Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2006 Issue

Early American Broadsides from William Reese

Reese248

American Broadsides and Broadsheets from William Reese Co.


By Michael Stillman

The 248th catalogue from New Haven bookseller William Reese Company offers a collection of American Broadsides and Broadsheets (and a few British ones to boot). These single sheet printings, often intended to be tacked up as posters, are among the most interesting of printed collectibles. Often they contain more immediate news than could be printed in book form, they may cover issues not complicated enough to warrant a book, and frequently are very rare, either because few copies were printed, or few of these ephemeral papers were saved. Then there's one other great advantage to broadsides when it comes to collecting. Since many were meant to be posted, they are very suitable for display, much more so than books that may only reveal a spine, stacked in a bookshelf with dozens of others. For collectors with an interest in early America, Reese's collection of broadsides offers some outstanding opportunities for display and collection. For example...

Item 67 is one of the occasional British broadsheets in this catalogue, but it is so intriguing we just couldn't overlook it. This one carries an important personal message from one Mrs. L. Gibbons, likely of Bath, England, in the year 1813. It is headed simply Advertisement Extraordinary! That it is. Evidently Mrs. Gibbons was in the business of measuring women's waists and such so she could sell them corsets, underwear and the like. However, some questions must have arisen regarding Mrs. Gibbons' gender. As the lady, if she was a lady, explains, "Whereas some ill-disposed Persons have scandalously reported that I, Mrs. L. Gibbons, have lately been discovered to be a Man! -- This is to certify you, Ladies and Gentlemen in particular, that the Whole is a vile Fabrication." Then she reassures (?) her customers "that I shall continue in my profession of making geographical, anatomical, and systematical Survey's of Ladies' Waists..." Hm... Respectable businesswoman or vile pervert? Maybe someone should have asked Mr. Gibbons. Priced at $250.

Here's another interesting personal message. This broadside was printed for George Featherstonhaugh, a noted geologist, but perhaps not an entirely pleasant person. It is headed, Rufus P. Eaton of Pipe Village, Lake Winnebago, Wis. A Scoundrel! A Knave! A Liar! And A Coward! Featherstonhaugh lists a litany of wrongs, from slandering his child to attempting to have him murdered. Was this all true? Reese, quoting from the Dictionary of American Biography about Featherstonhaugh notes, "American scientists were reluctant to give him credit for his geological writings, however, because Featherstonhaugh frequently engaged in ad hominem attacks on his opponents..." Reese also noted Daniel Webster called him "shallow, conceited, with quite a lurch towards mischief." We have not been able to find anything more about this dispute, nor anything about Mr. Eaton other than an 1885 death notice (this broadside is dated 1853), but considering Featherstonhaugh's reputation, I'd like to hear Eaton's side before accepting these claims as undisputed truth. Tem 52. $1,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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