May Catalogue Reviews
By Bruce McKinney
This month we review the catalogues of three well established dealers: Howard Mott of Sheffield, Massachusetts, David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books of Woodbridge, Connecticut and Hordern House of New South Wales, Australia.
Recent catalogues from Howard S. Mott Inc.
I recently received and read four catalogues from this long established Sheffield, Massachusetts antiquarian book dealer. Mr. Donald N. Mott, the proprietor, is a skilled bibliographer and also the son of Howard S. Mott, who was a highly important dealer in New York during its golden age of bookselling and collecting.
I started by reading Catalogue 241. It is Rare Books and Publishers’ Trade Bindings 18th – 20th Century. It is 185 items, in a 60 page presentation, that suggest Mr. Mott’s perspective is broad. This catalogue includes ephemera, books across three centuries, fiction, signed copies, copies with provenance and non-fiction. The descriptions are meticulous and extensive. While booksellers’ catalogues often rely on a few basic references, these entries are a textbook course in bibliographical completeness. For collectors and librarians who use bookseller’s descriptions as a first step to understand a book before purchasing, you start two rungs up the ladder with his presentations.
Catalogue 240 is Rare Books, Broadsides, Pamphlets and Manuscripts. It is an interesting mixture of complex material and prices from about $100 to the price of a one carat engagement ring. There is simply no predictability to the material. This is for the most part not what you are expecting and that is a good thing. Mr. Mott ranges the countryside, bypassing the interstates and collectors will find this type of material very interesting.
Here are a few examples. 240:105 is an 1807 Broadside [9.75 x 7.75”] of New York Jurors, which includes James Swords, Bookseller, Alexander Ming, Printer and Anthony Boyer, Morocco Leather Manufacturer. It’s a vignette of life in New York during the presidency of Jefferson. Lewis and Clarke are charting the west. Order is coming out of chaos. A jury sits to hear testimony.
Then there is 240:82, An Account of the Yellow Fever, which occurred in the City of New-York, in the Year 1822.... written by James A. M. Hardie and printed by Samuel Marks. Life was much less certain then and somehow not so different after all.
Then in catalogue 238, on page 29 (these lots are not numbered) is John James DuFour’s The American Vine-Dresser’s Guide,..printed in Cincinnati in 1826. This is a very early American book on wine. Then, while drinking champagne, visit Mr. Mott’s website for a complete reading of his recent catalogues. They are a main course, not an appetizer.
They are located at 170 South Main Street, Sheffield, Massachusetts 01257. Tel: (413) 229-2019.