Various New Items from John Waite Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
John Waite Rare Books of Vermont has issued their Catalogue Fourteen, a collection of 72 varied items suitable for equally varied collectors. There are literary first (and later) editions, autographed works, photographs and manuscripts, art, documents from both sides of the Civil War, poetry, maps, travel, and so on. We cannot say exactly which collectors will find something to buy, but just about any are likely to find something worth a look. Here are a few examples.
We will start with something targeted to the antiquarians. Anything older than Gutenberg qualifies as antiquarian no questions asked. Item 25 is a vellum manuscript issued by one Conradus of Germany in 1339. In it, he pledges his lands will annually provide one pig, two geese, and four chickens for the feast of the blessed Jacob. Conradus attests that his daughters, Elizabeth and Petronille, have consented to this gift. One suspects the current owner of these lands would be surprised to learn of his obligation. Priced at $950.
Item 55 is a different type of contract, one for the labor of Joel Bishop of North Haven, Connecticut. The date was December 15, 1796, the term "one Year or 310 working days" (there were more working days in a year back then), and the employer Miller and Whitney of Georgia and Connecticut. Whitney is the better known of the partners, he being Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. His machine revitalized agriculture and the economy of the South, enabling a worker to produce 50 pounds of cleaned cotton a day, where only one pound was possible before. Bishop was hired to produce cotton gins, and for his labor, he was to be paid $200 for the year, five dollars per quarter with the balance at the end of the contract. The firm agreed to provide "suitable Food and Lodging," while Bishop had to pay for his own "Grogg and Washing," and provide his own tools. The contract is signed by the firm's superintendent and Benjamin Whitney, Eli's brother. $1,500.
For those who collect American financial genius Alexander Hamilton, there is the July 21, 1804 issue of The Port Folio, published in Philadelphia by "Oliver Oldschool," pseudonym for Joseph Dennie. This was written by a supporter of Hamilton after his death in a duel with Vice-President Aaron Burr (Burr had better aim than Vice-President Cheney). With columns bordered in black for mourning, the publication prints correspondence between Hamilton, Burr and their handlers leading up to the duel, Hamilton's will, a full description of his funeral and the oration by Gouverneur Morris, and his last statement wherein he was quoted as claiming he entered the duel "with a fixed resolution to do him no harm." Hamilton's shot missed by a mile, consistent with his claim that he had no intention of striking Burr, though Burr may not have so interpreted his fire. Whatever the intention, Hamilton was mortally wounded, as was Burr's reputation. Item 33. $700.