Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2009 Issue

American Politics from the William Reese Company

Reese265

American Politics from the William Reese Company.


By Michael Stillman

Well-timed for the recent, momentous election is the latest catalogue from the William Reese Company: American Politics. This 265th catalogue from the New Haven bookseller is focused on Reese's specialty of Americana, with her politics and government at the center of attention. Our elections have been a contentious lot ever since George Washington decided to stop running for president. Those who think elections are nasty today might be surprised at the vitriol which flowed from the pens of partisans in the 19th century. Somehow we muddled by. This catalogue looks at some of those contests, along with many achievements by those who eventually survived this difficult process to make it into office. Here are a few of the items Reese has concerning American political history.

Shown on the cover is part of a political cartoon from the 1856 election. It makes fun of Democratic presidential nominee James Buchanan and the various party figures who supported him. The Democrats' message, as stated by former Senator Thomas Hart Benton (in reversal of the actual Democratic slogan) is: "Men not principles." A stiff, prone James Buchanan is depicted as a "platform" of the party, whose supporters include outgoing President Franklin Pierce and the anti-slavery proponent and former President Martin Van Buren, now content to support the party for the sake of spoils. Sitting on presidential nominee Buchanan is a southern slave owner who says he cares not about the platform's supporters as long as it supports him and his "n....." The broadside mocks the ever compromising Buchanan and the Democrats, who won the election, and turned out to perform just as the cartoonist expected. Item 24. Priced at $2,000.

The presidential campaign of 1884 is not remembered as one of the most significant, but it qualifies as one of the dirtiest. This one pitted Democrat Grover Cleveland, the winner and president who messed up the presidential numbering sequence by serving nonconsecutive terms, against Maine's James G. Blaine. Blaine attacked Cleveland for fathering a child out of wedlock, while Cleveland attacked Blaine as a "liar." Both claims were true if not diplomatic. Item 39 is a sammelband of some 130 documents from the campaign, most supporting the "continental liar" Blaine over "Pa" Cleveland. Many attempt to portray Blaine as a friend of labor, as he favored higher tariffs to support American wages, while Cleveland favored lower tariffs to stimulate American sales abroad and lower prices for the consumer. $2,250.

Item 74 is the most important work of American constitutional history: The Federalist, 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, published in 1788. They were written to promote adoption of the Constitution by the states, but remain today as a resource to determining the intent of its founders. $225,000.

Item 79 is a much later edition of The Federalist, published in 1831, which would seemingly make it an unimportant copy. However, this is a very special one. It was the personal copy of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, whose early interpretations of the Constitution gave it much of the meaning it has today. His decisions led to a powerful federal government, and a strong Supreme Court. Marshall's copy contains his signature on the title page. $60,000.

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>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions