Literature, Science, Americana, Fine Books, Etc. from Thomas Goldwasser Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
Thomas A. Goldwasser Rare Books is offering something on just about everything in their latest offering, Catalogue 22. It is divided into three main sections: Literature Before 1850, Literature After 1850, and Fine Printing. However, the term "literature" is rather broadly defined, as it includes such topics as science, travel, Americana, and even a few signed documents from U.S. presidents. In other words, you may find the unexpected in this wide and varied selection. These are a few of the items we found inside.
Item 26 is the third (and "best") octavo edition of Thomas McKenney and James Halls's History of the Indian Tribes of North America, published in 1855. McKenney had headed up the Office of Indian Affairs, but after the election of Andrew Jackson as president in 1828, he was dismissed from his post. He realized that Indian culture in the West was rapidly disappearing as white settlements inundated the land. The result was he set out to preserve what was there before it was too late. McKenney brought in writer James Hall, and painter Charles Bird King to describe and depict native life. King's colored portraits of various Indian chiefs are the highlight of these books. The originals were later destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian, but are preserved in the pages of this book. Priced at $35,000.
Item 3 is a 1791 first edition of James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson. This account of the humorous lexicographer's life contains the bookplate of William Strong, and comes with a letter to his father, Rev. Archdeacon Strong. The senior Strong was a contemporary of Boswell. The copy also includes a copy of the May 5, 1791, London Chronicle, which contained an advertisement for Boswell's book. $25,000.
Item 23 is George Mason's update on Johnson's work: A Supplement to Johnson's English Dictionary: of which the Palpable Errors are Attempted to be Rectified, and its Material Omissions Supplied. As Mason not too delicately notes in his preface, "Johnson's [dictionary] abounds with inaccuracies, as much as any English book whatsoever - written by a scholar." One imagines the irascible Johnson might not have appreciated Mason's comments, but by then he was far too dead to object. $950.
Item 137 is the not very successful first effort of a writer who would not be recognized until several years later. In 1950, Jack Kerouac published The Town and the City. The stated author of this first work is "John Kerouac." It uses fictionalized names for real people in his early "beat" life, but the writing style is more conventional than his follow-up, On The Road. The latter was ready in 1951, but no publisher could be found for his second work until 1957. This first edition of The Town and the City is inscribed by Kerouac to "Arni," the photographer who took his picture for the dust jacket. $9,000.
Item 179 is a circa 1927 letter from Gertrude Stein to Georgette Magritte, wife of artist Rene Magritte. Stein comments, "...we are pleased with the photos and either you have grown tall or the horses have grown small." Magritte was 27 years old at the time so it was odd that she would still be growing, but it made for a great line. Stein otherwise writes of mutual acquaintances. $3,750.
Item 11 is a copy of the Speeches on the Passage of the Bill for the Removal of Indians delivered in Congress in 1830. One of those who spoke, and bitterly denounced the treatment of America's natives, was Edward Everett, then a Massachusetts congressman. Everett would go on to serve as governor, senator, and secretary of state. He also delivered the lead lecture at Gettysburg the day Lincoln delivered his brief, but better remembered speech. This copy is inscribed by Everett to Lemuel Shattuck, a leader in reforming health care in Massachusetts (and a bookseller). $750.
Thomas A Goldwasser Rare Books may be reached at 415-292-4698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is found at www.goldwasserbooks.com.