Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2008 Issue

Americana from Oak Knoll Books

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Americana is the subject of Oak Knoll's sixth special catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Oak Knoll Books has issued the sixth installment in their series of special catalogues, aptly named Oak Knoll Special Catalogue 6. It is also quite logically headed Americana. This catalogue includes various types of works in the field, some being within their typical area of "books about books" as well as about America, others being reprints of early items of Americana, and many being early copies of antiquarian American works. Those who collect Americana may not typically look to Oak Knoll as a source for books, but here is a chance to expand your resources. These are a few of the items we found in Oak Knoll's "special" catalogue.

Item 7 is a look at colonial America from the eyes of a Frenchman, Georges Marie Butel-Dumont: Histoire et Commerce des Colonies Angloises, dans l'Amerique Septentrionale... published in 1755. This is an interesting date as it came out just after the outbreak of the French and Indian War, which would a few years later separate France from its one-time colonies in Canada and Louisiana. Surprisingly, this French-language book was published in London. Butel-Dumont believed that Britain's American colonies were a major source of its wealth, and he attributed the economic success of those colonies to the relative freedom their people enjoyed compared to those of most nations (of course, once the French and Indian War was over, the colonists soon determined that they were not as free as they wished to be). Offered is a second printing of the first edition. Priced at $400.

Item 6 is a later French work about what had now become the United States: New Travels in the United States of America, Performed in 1788, by Jean Pierre Brissot de Warville. This is a 1793 first Irish edition of a work about a country he for the most part admired. The one shortcoming this advocate of human freedom found was the institution of slavery, but he was an optimist, believing in time it would be eliminated. Brissot was a friend of Jefferson, whom he consulted on some of his writings about America. Brissot went on to be a leader of the French Revolution, and was considered a hero at the storming of the Bastille. Sadly, the excesses of that Revolution caught up with him, and the year in which this Irish edition was published was also the year the French radicals led Brissot to the guillotine. $400.

Item 34 was an early, though flawed attempt to explain the mounds of the North American Midwest. William Pigeon was an Indian trader and amateur archeologist who came up with explanations based in part on legends learned from the Indians living in the area in the mid-19th century. His book, published in 1853, is Traditions of De-Coo-Dah and Antiquarian Researches: Comprising Extensive Explorations, Surveys, Excavations of the Wonderful and Mysterious Earthen Remains of the Mound-Builders in America. Pigeon was convinced there had once been a much larger and more advanced civilization in America, one whose knowledge and technology rivaled that of ancient Egypt or Greece. He described De-Coo-Dah, whom he interviewed, as the last prophet of the Elk Nation, but the old prophet may have been knowledgeable in legend and lore more than historical fact. Pigeon theorized a great war in which the more advanced civilizations were wiped out and replaced by the Indians he found. $300.

Where can you learn more about pre-19th century medical practice in New Jersey? Believe it or not, there is such a book: History of Medicine in New Jersey And of its Medical Men, From the Settlement of the Province to A.D. 1800. George Wickes provides historical information about disease and the medical practice in the state in part one, and then follows that up with a section containing biographical sketches of New Jersey physicians. Item 40. $250.

Oak Knoll Books may be reached at 302-328-7232. Their website is www.oakknoll.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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