Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2006 Issue

More Rare and Unusual Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser93

Catalogue 93 of Rare Americana from David Lesser.


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books
has issued their 93rd catalogue of Rare Americana. It fits right in the Lesser mold, catalogues of mainly pamphlets and other unusual American works predominately from the 18th and 19th century. These are mostly concerned with the immediate issues of the day, rather than thorough detailed historical works. The shorter, pamphlet form allowed for quick comment on current events. Here you will find many political works, some concerning issues great, others small and forgotten. Religious leaders thunder over the doctrinal controversies of the day, many of little concern anymore. There are numerous legal arguments, accounts of trials, business propositions, especially concerning railroads, arguments pro and con over slavery and women's rights, even a few medical works, or perhaps quackery works might be more descriptive. Lesser's catalogues are informative and entertaining, and offer a wealth of material for your Americana collection. Here are just a few of these uncommon items.

America was more of an egalitarian society in its earlier days, a leftover rebellion against the nobility of its former colonial masters. Some of that spirit can be seen in organizations such as the one described in the Catalogue of the Anti-Secret Confederation. Such groups were common in America in the first half of the 19th century, there once having been an entire political party dedicated to opposing the Masons. The confederation described in this catalogue was formed of anti-secret societies at numerous colleges in the Northeast. They claim, "Secret Societies are calculated to destroy the harmony of College, to create distinctions not founded on merit..." Item 4, published in 1853. Priced at $375.

Henry Clay was one of the senate's greatest orators, whose attempts to bring various sides together earned him the sobriquet the "Great Compromiser." His talents were put to their greatest test after the Mexican War, when the North and South began rapidly to pull apart, and the Union started to unravel. Clay led the Senate to passage of the Compromise of 1850, actually a series of compromises that, at the time, seemed to save the Union. He died two years later, his Whig political party in disarray, but the Union apparently saved. By 1856, the compromises had virtually disintegrated while the Whigs, who had won the presidency as recently as 1848, ceased to exist. That left his political opponents, the Democrats, the new anti-immigrant American (Know-Nothing) Party, and the newly formed Northern party the Republicans to battle for the presidency. Were he still alive, who would the old Whig compromiser have supported? We will never know, though many, especially northern Whigs like Abraham Lincoln, moved to the Republicans. Item 23 is a Letter from the Hon. James B. Clay, published in 1856. James was Henry Clay's loyal son, so it is interesting to see how he confronted this choice. From the three, Clay immediately eliminates Republican John Fremont, saying the Republicans will "destroy the glorious Union under which I was born and lived." The other two, Know-Nothing Millard Fillmore and Democrat James Buchanan, are "a choice of evils," though a lesser evil than Fremont.

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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