Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2018 Issue

Early Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

7954c631-fac7-4281-8630-cc7b405d5bc6

The 163rd catalogue from David M. Lesser Antiquarian Books.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has published their Catalogue 163 of Rare Americana. A Catalogue of Significant and Unusual Imprints Relating to America. Most are from the 18th and 19th century, with many pamphlets, manuscript documents, and more ephemeral items included. We also find several British items, perhaps stretching the term "Americana" a bit, but they are primarily from the 18th century, when America was either a British colony or had just severed the chains, or pertain to the issue that was the bane of America's first century of existence - slavery. Here are some selections from Lesser's 163rd catalogue of Americana.

 

We begin with a very early printing of the Gettysburg Address, published just a day after it was delivered. You would expect to spend a fortune for this monumental piece of American history, but it costs only a few hundred bucks. Why? Well, it turns out the New York Evening Post missed the history that was made that day. We should not be too harsh on them. Most others missed it at first too. Item 60 is a four-page folded elephant folio printing of the Gettysburg Address from November 20, 1863. Unfortunately, the Post picked the wrong Gettysburg Address to highlight. Lincoln's short speech that afternoon was little noticed by the public until several days later. The main address was given by Edward Everett, a long-winded speech that ran on for almost two hours. Everett was known as one of the greatest orators of his day, and he managed to touch on the entire history of humanity in his speech. Lincoln got right to the point. Item 60 is a condensed version of Edward Everett's Oration of the Previous Day at the Dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Priced at $375.

 

As long as we are on great orators, here is the first published speech by perhaps the greatest of them all, certainly for his era. Daniel Webster was just 18 years old at the time, but he had already gained a reputation as a speaker in college. The result was the citizens of Hanover, New Hampshire, asked him to give a speech celebrating the Fourth of July in 1800. Here is the printing of An Oration, Pronounced at Hanover, New Hampshire, the 4th Day of July, 1800; Being the Twenty-fourth Anniversary of American Independence. By Daniel Webster, Member of the Junior Class, Dartmouth University. It is filled with the flourishes popular in the day. "Hail the day that gave us Freedom, and hail the rising glories of our country!... From the lisping inhabitant of the cradle to the aged warrior whose gray hairs are fast sinking in the western horizon of life, every voice is, this day, tuned to the accents of LIBERTY! WASHINGTON! MY COUNTRY!... That which has happened but once in six thousand years cannot be expected to happen often." Webster stirred audiences with such words for half a century. Item 155. $4,500.

 

Next we have a Currier & Ives print, though perhaps not a typical one. It is caption titled, Genl. Tom Thumb & Wife, Com. Nutt & Minnie Warren. It is centered by an image of the wedding of Tom and Livinia Thumb. Naturally, those were not their real names, any more then Thumb was a general or Nutt a commodore. Com. Nutt and Minnie Warren, Livinia's sister, served at the wedding of the Thumbs, which was put on by their boss, P. T. Barnum. They all worked for years in his shows, doing quite well financially. This wedding must have been the only time the Thumbs towered over their guests, as Nutt and Warren were both shorter than the principals. Tom, at 2" 11", was the tallest (he later grew a little more). Minnie was but 2' 3". The wedding picture is surrounded by vignettes of images of the four. The caption further tells us they are, "Four wondrously formed & strangely beautiful ladies & gentlemen in miniatures, natures smallest editions of her choicest works. A married couple, a bachelor & belle, all four weighing but 100 pounds. They are all in perfect developement, educated & intelligent, and fitted, both intellectually and physically for all the duties & requirements of life... No exhibition more marvelously beautiful has ever been seen on earth." Gawking was acceptable in the day, and Barnum was a master of hyperbole. Item 36. $950.

 

Next we have four more images suitable for gawking. Item 39 consists of four carte-de-visite engravings of Jefferson Davis being captured by Union forces in 1865. Each of them depict Davis in a woman's dress, a comic but humiliating depiction. It was not entirely fair. Mrs. Davis had given him a few items of clothing to cover himself from the cold, but Davis did not attempt to disguise himself as a woman in his unsuccessful attempt to escape. Nevertheless, rumors portrayed the situation thus, as ridiculing Davis was understandably a popular idea in the North. $600.

 

Furthering that idea is item 40. It is a songbook, Jeff in Petticoats. A Song for the Times. Words by George Cooper. Music by Henry Tucker, published in 1865. This one ridicules Davis in words and music, rather than pictures. Actually, it does that too, as the cover depicts Davis, wearing his wife's dress, attempting to flee a Union soldier, his gun drawn. $350.

 

Here is a type of letter you will not find available very often. It is the letter Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon Chase wrote to one of the court's Associate Justices on his retirement. That Justice was Robert Grier, who served on the court from 1846-1870. Chase's letter is filled with compliments and good wishes, a sign of the collegiality which has existed on the court, even to this day, something sorely lacking these days in the other two branches of government. The reality is that Chase and Grier were on opposite sides of the most critical issue of their time. Chase was an ardent abolitionist who served in Lincoln's cabinet and was appointed by him to be Chief Justice. Grier was part of the majority in the notorious Dred Scott decision, which ruled that no black people, even those free, could be citizens of the United States. They were no more than mere property of whites. Still, Chase is generous, complimentary, and respectful in his letter of January 31, 1870. Grier resigned because of ill health, with Chase writing, "We deeply lament that infirmities incident to advancing age constrain you to retire from the post you have so long and honorably filled." Chase says that the court will still seek his counsel and companionship, and "May you live many years to give us both." He did not, succumbing eight months later. Item 25. $4,500.

 

Here is a lawsuit that wasn't worth the cost of filing, and that is a good thing. It consists of documents filed in a suit in Mississippi concerning the ownership of slaves. It was brought by Samuel Heard and Theodore Paddleford against Sarah Ann Heard, widow of Thomas Heard. The paperwork lists 14 of Thomas Heard's slaves whose ownership was contested, all having only a first name, including one with "no name known" by the plaintiffs. Seven were the children of one of the named slaves, "Cheney, a black woman, aged about 38 years." What makes this suit essentially a wasted effort was its timing. It was filed in 1863, the year Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. They would all soon be free, their once great value as slaves disappearing overnight. Item 32. $850.

 

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.com. Their website is www.lesserbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600
  • <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>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions