Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2017 Issue

American Personal Narratives from Langdon Manor Books

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Extraordinary history of the every day.

Langdon Manor Books has issued their Catalog 3 American Personal Narratives. They describe their collection as "The Extraordinary History of the Every Day," and that is precisely what makes these photo albums, diaries and the like so fascinating. These are not life stories of great people but of "ordinary" people, people like the rest of us, extraordinary in their own way. You will be able to relate to these people in ways you can't to George Washington and Winston Churchill. They are not unlike us. Here are a few selections from a catalogue of material I find some of the most interesting that comes across my desk.

 

Before we get to the extraordinary, I have to start with this one because it is as ordinary as it can be. Item 2 is the daily diary from L. Wood Johnson from 1941-1953. I kid you not on this one – Johnson was a farmer from Farmersville, Texas. He has filled all but 36 pages of a 500-page book with thousands of notes about his farm, where he grew corn, cotton, peas, oats, clover, grapes, apples, potatoes, onions, and more. Johnson also raised sheep, milk cows, turkeys and hogs. He had 128 acres, all but 15 of which he farmed. The diary describes his work, what he planted, trips to market, building improvements, livestock births and deaths, and the weather. Lest you think everything about Johnson was ordinary, he did develop his own strain of corn, Wood Johnson Yellow Dent corn, and was named a master farmer by the McKinney Weekly Democrat-Gazette. And as for Farmersville being a dull place, it was then known as "the onion capital of North Texas." Johnson was an older man at the time of this writing, dying three years after the last entry at the age of 87. Priced at $500.

 

Next up we have a World War I diary, mostly from France in 1918. The soldier who kept it was Eldrid Thomas Hunter of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Hunter was likely another "ordinary" man, but what he lived through, and somehow survived, was anything but. He describes the constant artillery fire and grenades as the enemies faced off, each from their trenches. Death was all around, and danger was unending. On August 14 he wrote, "...our post was shelled by artillery which destroyed it, and we narrowly escaped with our lives, only by seeking shelter in a dugout, it was an exciting night, we all expected a fight, hand to hand, but the Boche (derogatory term for a German soldier) failed to show up..." On September 26 he writes, "You have to go thru such a living hell to appreciate what an awful thing war is. To see your companions shot down on every side and to witness such butchery and then try to tell it as you saw it and felt is as I say impossible." Item 22. $850.

 

The young in America were also asked to join the cause during World War I, though their experiences were not nearly so terrifying as Hunter's. Instead, they were asked to join the United States School Garden Army. Schoolchildren aged 9-16 were encouraged to participate in gardening, providing food for their communities at a time when there were food scarcities due to the war. It was portrayed as patriotic, reportedly reaching membership of 6 million. However, it did not last long. Begun in 1917, the army was disbanded by 1919 after the end of the war. Item 1 is a scrapbook and photo album from the School Garden Army at the Mary Hemenway School in Boston. The children are shown sowing and reaping, along with tilling and other farming activities. Other pictures show them at exhibitions. Along with the photographs the scrap book includes various USSGA publications, a flyer by President Wilson, and typescript planting songs. $2,000.

 

War was not hell in Vietnam if all you have to go by is this photo album of U.S. soldiers in 1970. The photographs show soldiers clowning around. The lack of captions makes it hard to identify the pranksters, but among the pictures we see a couple of soldiers with an American flag with a peace symbol replacing the stars while they hold their hands up in peace symbols. There are also shots of local bands on stage with soldiers joining in and dancing women. Langdon Manor warns us that some of the dancers are nude and some shots were taken from a bit too close to the stage. More seriously, one of the pictures shows choppers landing along with internal views of the barracks. Item 21. $750.

 

Item 27 is a photo album of the U. S. Indian Service's traveling library and motion picture bus from 1937-1941. Thirty-two are black and white while 175 have been hand-colored. Pierre Alford, a Shawnee, operated the bus with his wife Dorothy. It appears it was Dorothy who took the pictures and did the coloring. They served various Native American communities around the American Southwest, primarily Arizona. Many of the photographs were taken at schools, either in front, in classrooms, or of children inside the bus. Some are from a fourth of July celebration, a girls' camp, or by people's homes. Other images display natural scenery such as mountains and cacti. Detailed captions are provided for most. There are also several shots of family friend Virgil Brown, including a party after his wedding. He served with the Bushmasters in World War II and he later appeared in newspaper photographs with a few of his fellows and General Douglas MacArthur. That is Brown you see on the cover standing next to his (presumably) new Plymouth. $8,000.

 

This next set of photographs captured one of the sadder moments in recent history. It consists of five photo album leaves containing ten original photographs and three commercial ones. They are of the spaceship Challenger disaster in 1986. They were taken by Dale and Frances Weick. They had received an Air Force pass to view the lift off from just 3 ½ miles away. They took pictures longer into the flight as they hoped to photograph the rocket stages separating. A note on one of the leaves reads, "Frances kept saying 'It was so beautiful & then it was gone.'" Item 31. $450.

 

Langdon Manor Books may be reached at 713-443-4697 or LangdonManorBooks@gmail.com. Their website is found at langdonmanorbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>The Tragedie of Julius Caesar.</i> London, 1623. 1st appearance in print, Complete from the First Folio. Sold for $175,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Zane Grey, Inscribed photograph album depicting Grey and party at Catalina, fishing, and in Arizona. $700 to $1,000
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Eric Taverner, Salmon Fishing...London: Seeley, Service & Co., 1931. $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> The Gentleman Angler. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Ken Robinson, Flyfishers' Progress. [London: The Flyfishers' Club, 2000. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> G. H. Lacy, North Punjab Fishing Club Angler's Handbook. Calcutta: Newman & Co., 1890. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> J. Harrington Keene, Fly-Fishing and Fly-Making for Trout, etc. New York, 1887. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Arthur Macrate, The History of The Tuna Club, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1948. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Joseph D. Bates Jr. Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, 1966. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Paul Schmookler and Ingrid V. Sils. Rare and Unusual Fly Tying Materials: A Natural History. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Herbert Hoover, Fishing For Fun - And To Wash Your Soul. New York: Random House, 1963. $400 to $600
  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 372: Martin Luther King Jr. March for Freedom Now! Placard. Chicago, 1960. 28 x 22”. $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 567: Warhol, Andy. Tate Gallery Exhibition Booklet, Signed on the Cover by Warhol. Tate Gallery, 1971. $700 to $900
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 72: Mitchell, Margaret. <i>Gone With the Wind.</i> New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936. First edition, first issue. $4,000 to $5,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 468: Photo Archive Documenting the 1930s—50s Chicago Jazz and Night Club Scene. A significant collection. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 143: Dr. Seuss. <i>Oh Say Can You Say.</i> 1979, First Edition, Signed. $200 to $300
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 285: [Maps] Thomas G. Bradford. <i>A Comprehensive Atlas, Geographical, Historical & Commercial.</i> Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1835. First Edition. $1,600 to $1,800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 69: Herman Melville. <i>Moby Dick, or The Whale</i>. New York: Random House, 1930. First Kent Trade Edition. $400 to $600
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 295: John James Audoban. Group of 148 Lithographs from the Birds of America. Philadelphia: J.T. Bowen, ca. 1840s. $600 to $800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 54: Langston Hughes. <i>One-Way Ticket.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949. First edition. $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 7: Ray Bradbury. <i>The Martian Chronicles.</i> With a Wine Label Signed by Bradbury. Garden City: Doubleday, 1950. First edition $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 121. Frank L Baum. <i>The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.</i> Chicago: George M. Hill Co., 1899, 1900. First Edition. $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 369. [Declaration of Independence] Peter Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence. One page; 29 x 26”. From the "American Archives" 1837-1853 series of books. $15,000 to $20,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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