Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2009 Issue

A Look at America's Past from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser107

The latest in Rare Americana from David Lesser.


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue of Rare Americana from David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books is number 107 in their series. As we have come to expect, this is a collection of the obscure and unusual from America's past. Mostly pamphlets, these publications are primarily late 18th and 19th century in origin. They cover politics, theology, business, medicine, war, slavery, travel, crime... all of the issues of the day. So, once again we will go back in time and take a look at America in an earlier era, when life was simpler, but every bit as contentious as it is today.

Item 43 is the account of a long ago trial, so biased and unfair that the convicted defendants were officially exonerated almost two centuries later. Dominic Daley and James Halligan were the Irish Sacco and Vanzetti of a century earlier. In 1806, residents of Massachusetts were fearful of recent Irish Catholic immigrants. They assumed the worst of these newcomers. As a result, when Daley and Halligan were arrested for the murder of one Marcus Lyon, few questioned their guilt. Little evidence was presented of their blame, but it mattered not. Their counsel cautioned the jury not to convict them based on "the inveterate hostility against the people of that wretched country, from which the Prisoners have emigrated, for which the people of New-England are peculiarly distinguished." The jury ignored his words, convicted Daley and Halligan, and they were executed in a public hanging attended by thousands. In 1984, Governor Michael Dukakis officially proclaimed their innocence, 176 years too late to help the pair. This 1806 account is entitled Report of the Trial of Dominic Daley and James Halligan, for the Murder of Marcus Lyon... Priced at $450.

Item 87 is an interesting connection between the Revolutionary and Civil War eras in the United States. The early presidency was dominated by Virginians, and yet it would be southerners who would attempt to split the Union apart four score later. The split first started to appear over the issue of tariffs, which protected manufacturing primarily in the North, while increasing costs to customers in the South. It would lead some southerners, headed by John C. Calhoun, to declare that states had the right to ignore laws of the federal government, even secede if they wished. Most of the founders were gone by this time, but James Madison, the last survivor of the Virginia presidents, and the primary author of the Constitution, was still around. Offered is his Letters on the Constitutionality of the Power of Congress to Impose a Tariff for the Protection of Manufactures. In this 1828 publication, Madison argues against the southerners and for the power of the federal government to regulate trade. $500.

Even before the election of Lincoln as president in 1860, there was little hope the Union could be held together without force. Evidence of the monumental size of the divide can be seen in this Defence of the National Democracy against the Attack of Judge Douglas - Constitutional Rights of the States. This was a speech given on the senate floor on May 22, 1860, by Senator Judah Benjamin of Louisiana. Judge Douglas was Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, the eventual presidential nominee of the regular Democrats that fall. Douglas had already compromised too far for most northerners with his "popular sovereignty," a doctrine that would have allowed residents of new territories to choose for themselves whether to allow slavery. Most in the North opposed the expansion of slavery to anywhere outside of the South. However, this was not sufficient for southern leaders like Benjamin, who demanded that slavery be allowed in all territories, even if their residents opposed it, along with enforcement of fugitive slave laws in the North. With demands such as these, a split in the Union was inevitable. Item 19. $600.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750

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