Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2003 Issue

The Catskill Mountains and the Region Around By the Rev. Charles Rockwell

Catskill1

A bargain at $39.

A review and perspective
By Bruce McKinney


Just when I decide I don’t know as much as I think I find I know even less. For this epiphany I can thank the Rev. Charles Rockwell, Dutch Dominie of the Catskills, and author of “The Catskill Mountains and the Region Around” that was published in 1867 and revised in 1869 in New York by Taintor Brothers & Co., 229 Broadway. I grew up a scant 35 miles south of Catskill in the Hudson River valley in New Paltz and had, from about the age of 8, a deep and abiding interest in history. That this book eluded me until now is not easily explained.

The Rev. Rockwell’s 351-page book is a very complete collection of both his and others’ accounts of the history and myths of the Catskill Mountain region. There is much and many.

In this book Catskill is the gateway to the Catskill Mountains. This is not a proposition that receives much consideration in southern Ulster County where I come from but, in reading his account his view becomes understandable. In the 19th century access to the Catskills was often made by boat conveying passengers and cargo up the Hudson River. This is long before cars and even longer before good roads. Access by boat made sense.

Near Catskill was the famous Mountain House, the subject of many famous paintings and engravings. In an era captured in many of the paintings of Thomas Cole and others, mystical beauty was a recurring theme and the Catskills one of its epicenters. This book effectively brings the heyday of the Catskills back to view.

Before there were airplanes, Palm Beach and later Palm Springs there was Catskill. New Yorkers and those arriving from other parts could make the final leg of their journey up the Hudson on a virtual tour of American history. The Hudson was yet pristine and in season, filled with Shad whose last wish and goal was to spawn in the streams that fed the Hudson. Past the rocky Pallisades to West Point where Benedict Arnold entered the history books, past Newburgh where Washington quartered his troops and on past Poughkeepsie to Kingston, the first capital of New York State. Continuing north by boat the Mountain House loomed into view high up on the west bank.

Rare Book Monthly

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    <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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
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    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
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    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
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