Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2018 Issue

Manuscripts from the William Reese Company



The William Reese Company has issued a selection of Manuscripts. These are manuscripts that either come from America or pertain to America. This includes not just the United States, but Canada, Central America, and the Caribbean. These documents have been written by people ranging from George Washington to a lowly soldier in the Civil War. Each is interesting and important in its own way. Here are a few of them.


We begin with the beginning of the Civil War. After the first southern states seceded, South Carolina applied pressure on the Union to evacuate Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. United States forces refused. They were at a major disadvantage with men and supplies dwindling and resupply difficult in hostile territory. After a notice of intention to resupply the fort, followed by an ultimatum to vacate from the Governor of South Carolina, Confederate forces began bombardment in the early morning of April 12, 1861. Union forces held on as long as they could, but by the following day, April 13, they were forced to surrender the fort. They left with no loss of life on either side. Item 4 is a letter written by Edward S. Aldrich, a surgeon, to his sister-in-law on April 13. Aldrich had previously been a U.S. Army surgeon, but at this point, he was on his way to Charleston to volunteer to serve Confederate troops. He was riding on a passenger ship when the bombardments began. His ship was held up in the harbor by the fighting, from which he witnessed the event. As soon as it concluded, he whipped off this letter describing what he saw. Priced at $12,500.


We will end this war quickly. Fast forward to April 3, 1865, Lee's surrender at Appomattox just six days away. Grant had laid siege on Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, in the waning days of the war. Finally, President Jefferson Davis recognized the inevitability of its fall. He took the last train, or more precisely, followed the last open railroad tracks out of the city. As the Confederate forces abandoned the city, General Grant wrote down this order in pencil in the early morning hours of April 3 to be telegraphed to General Weitzel. In it, Gen. Grant instructs him seize control of the city. He also tells Weitzel that once he does, not to let anyone leave Richmond as he planned to cut off the Confederate retreat. By 8:15 that morning, Weitzel was able to respond with a "mission accomplished" message. Item 18. $140,000.


Item 48 is a letter from George Washington, filled with sorrow for a friend, one he would too soon have to endure himself. It was written on April 20, 1773, two years before Washington took charge of the Continental Army. It was written to a close friend, Burwell Bassett, who was married to Martha Washington's sister. In it, Washington offers his condolences. Bassett's daughter had just died. Washington also notes that his stepson, John Parke Custis, had become engaged. Only two months later, Washington would write Bassett again, this time having to inform the latter that his own stepdaughter, Martha "Patsy" Custis, had died at age 17. $37,500.


He is not as beloved as Washington, but Martin Van Buren was President too. Item 44 is a 14-page manuscript draft section of Van Buren's autobiography. It pertains to his impressions of John Quincy Adams, also a President. Van Buren and Adams were political opponents. Van Buren was an ardent supporter of Andrew Jackson, serving as Jackson's vice-president before being elected to the presidency himself. Jackson believed Adams had stolen the presidency from him in the election of 1824 through his alleged "corrupt bargain" with Henry Clay. Jackson was bitter. However, despite being strong political opponents, Van Buren attempts to be fair and writes respectfully of Adams. Ultimately, Van Buren considered his adversary to be an honest, incorruptible, patriotic man. It may have helped that this was probably written around 1854, several years after Adams died and Van Buren was long out of office. Additionally, while not so much in their presidential years, both became strong opponents of slavery in their post-presidential days, Adams as a congressman and Van Buren as a minor party presidential candidate in 1848. $9,000.


This may look like an odd item for Americana. It is a 28-page document in Japanese on rice paper. It was written by Japanese scribes. It is the content that connects it to America. What it consists of is five letters translated from English to Japanese. The document comes from 1853, with two of the letters coming from (outgoing) President Millard Fillmore, three from Commodore Perry. They pertain to America's demand that Japan open itself to trade. The Japanese wanted to remain isolated, but America was prepared to use "gunboat diplomacy" to force that nation to open its doors. The letters were presented to Prince Ido and Prince Toda to be delivered to the Emperor. Scribes produced copies to be given to Japan's upper council, but first, naturally enough, they needed to be translated to Japanese. Item 16. $15,000.


The William Reese Company may be reached at 203-789-8081 or amorder@reeseco.com. Their website is www.williamreesecompany.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.

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