Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2007 Issue

David Lesser Antiquarian Books Issues Their 100th Catalogue

Lesser100

The 100th catalogue from David Lesser Antiquarian Books


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books
has issued its 100th catalogue of Rare Americana. The first was issued 18 years ago. Lesser notes of number 100, "...it's a bit bigger and, I hope, better than usual." However, he points out, "It's a lot like its predecessors..." and that, too, is true. This is fine. Lesser's catalogues are among the best in Americana you will find. He rarely handles the really expensive pieces, but generally low to mid range items, within the budget of many collectors. His books and manuscripts are always fascinating, mostly quite rare and hard to find, and provide a window on America in its early years that only something actually a part of that time can provide. For example...

In the days before medical licensing standards and AMA references, a physician was on his own to defend himself from attacks on his competence. In 1840, poor Dr. Ahlenfeld of Hampshire, Virginia, was evidently the subject of such an attack. To defend his practice he printed a broadside, with the following head: To the public. I can refrain no longer from noticing the unremitting hostility, which I have had to encounter ever since my removal to Hampshire, by a combination of invidious and malicious individuals, who are harassing me in every way, and insidiously trying to injure my practice as a physician, by their nefarious calumniations, in endeavoring, both directly and indirectly, to make the people of this community, and out of this neighborhood believe that I am but a common quack... Ahlenfeld was a German immigrant, perhaps part of his problem, with degrees from Berlin and the University of Maryland. He prints recommendations from a Maryland physician and professor and claims the attacks "are actuated by disgraceful and selfish motives." Today, physicians have to fend off malpractice suits. In 1840, they had to defend nefarious calumniations. It isn't easy being a doctor. Item 5. Priced at $600.

Lesser has several song sheets available. Item 31 includes eight from the 1870s from San Francisco publisher Bell and Company. Among the songs are 'Make Room For Your Uncle,' 'New Year's Song, 1876,' 'First She Would and Then She Wouldn't, or, O You Naughty, Naughty Man,' and the ever popular 'Since Mary Ann Learned How To Dance The Tra-La-La-Loo.' $175. Item 46 is a collection of 59 ballads from the 1850s-1880s by H. De Marsan, including 'Captain De Wellington's Boots,' 'The Landlord's Pet,' 'The New Skeddadle Song,' and 'Smiggey McGuirrel.' Favorites all. $850.

Item 81 is an unusual collection of Lincoln items. It contains thirty orders from Lincoln following his review of military courts martial. Charges include treasonous activities by civilians, spying by Confederates, desertion and the like by Union soldiers, as well as more serious crimes such as rape and murder. Lincoln overturned many verdicts and commuted most death sentences unless the crimes were most serious. Lesser notes that these orders provide a great insight into Lincoln's careful performance of his duties of office. $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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