Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

Early and Exotic Imprints from William Reese

Reese261

Early and Exotic Imprints from the William Reese Company.


By Michael Stillman

The most recent catalogue from the William Reese Company, number 261 of this three-decade long series, is entitled Early and Exotic Imprints. It is divided into three parts: first, the United States and Canada, next the Caribbean and Latin America, and finally, the smallest section covers the remainder of the world. With the last group heavy in imprints from Mauritius, Tasmania, and Greenland, you might get an unusual impression as to what were the world's most important printing centers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nevertheless, the collection of works from the Western Hemisphere is both extensive and quite interesting, or "exotic" as the title states. These are not items with which you are necessarily familiar, and you won't find them everyday. Here is a look at a few of these items of "exotica."

Item 5 explains one reason why New York needed a printer. It is a city form, published during the reign of Queen Anne. That dates it to sometime between 1702 and 1714, and it would have come from the press of New York's first printer, William Bradford, as he was the only game in town at the time. This is a blank license form, which entitles the as yet unnamed merchant "to sell wine, beer, brandy rum, syder, or any other sorts of strong liquors by retail." New Englanders may have had their tea parties and been debating theology and witches, but New Yorkers had other spirits on their mind. Priced at $850.

Who would have thought little New Hampshire would have been ready to take on the Royal Navy during the Revolution? Well, this is the "live free or die" state, and these ornery Yankees were not about to put up with anyone taking their freedom. In 1776, the newly self-declared independent state issued An Act for Encouraging the Fixing Out of Armed Vessels, to Defend the Sea Coast of America, and to Cruize on the Enemies of the United States Colonies, as also for Erecting a Court, to Try and Condemn All Ships...Goods, Wares and Merchandizes Belonging to Any Inhabitant or Inhabitants of Great Britain, Taken on the High Seas. New Hampshire may not have had a navy, but they were determined to make up for it by encouraging privateers to harass the British on the high seas on the state's behalf. Item 42. $1,500.

Many Englishmen were sent on extended "vacations" to Australia in the early 19th century, but very few Americans were sent off to be unwilling settlers of the land down under. However, Linus W. Miller was granted unwanted passage to the British penal colony in 1840. Miller was an American who joined the rebels in the ill-fated Canadian Revolution of 1837-38. He was just 22-years-old at the time, and he would spend most of his 20s in unpleasant surroundings for his participation in a lost cause. Reese notes that there are nine published accounts by exiles to Australia from the Canadian rebellion, but this is one of the best. Miller recounts incidents from the rebellion, his trial, and his time in Australia. Eventually, he was pardoned and returned to his home in upstate New York, where in 1846 he published Notes of an Exile to Van Dieman's Land... Item 13. $1,750.

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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