Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2009 Issue

More Inexpensive Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lessercheapo8

Part 8 of David Lesser's Inexpensive Americana.


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their latest budget collection: Inexpensive Americana Part VIII. In keeping with the tough times, Lesser has issued a series of lists of printed Americana with everything priced at $250 or less. These may not be the best of times for selling books, but it is an excellent opportunity to buy. Lesser's specialty is pamphlets and ephemeral printings from the late 18th and 19th centuries, though there are always a few items that exceed these borders of type and time. Here are some items available this month for those with limited budgets and those who just prefer not spending a lot of money.

Pro-temperance forces fought to prohibit the consumption of alcohol for a century before achieving their ill-fated success. In 1838, Massachusetts passed a novel attempt to bring about prohibition. It was called the "Fifteen Gallon Law," and it prohibited innkeepers and tavern owners from selling liquor in quantities less than 15 gallons. Unless you were very good at holding your liquor, this was far too much for anyone to consume at one setting, in effect preventing customers from buying any of the stuff. Item 64 is Investigation into the Fifteen Gallon Law of Massachusetts... by Franklin Dexter and Benjamin Franklin Hallett. These two lawyers sought repeal of the law they labeled, "an experiment upon popular forbearance, to test how far fanaticism and bigotry can go in getting the sanctions of law in this State to enforce particular creeds..." Massachusetts' tavern owners and drinking public won the day. The experiment in "fanaticism" was repealed the following year. $150.

Item 4 is a very early English printing of the song we know today as "Oh! Susannah." This is an 1850 broadside, containing Stephen Foster's song just two years after he penned it. The original words are not entirely as we know today. Foster wrote for minstrel shows, and the original lyrics employed exaggerated dialect and racially insensitive, to put it mildly, words. Foster would later tone down his lyrics, as, despite the southern themes of his music, he was a northerner sympathetic to the slaves. The broadsheet is headed Swaggering Farmers and Susannah Don't You Cry. The other, forgotten song makes fun of farmers who try to live beyond their means. $175.

Some parts of the South may have been ready to move on after the Civil War, but not South Carolina, the instigator. Item 174 is Reports and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, Passed at the Annual Session of 1865. This post-war assembly seemed intent on passing codes that would have the practical effect of returning the freed slaves to bondage. A "Master-Apprentice" system was established which required blacks to sign annual master-servant contracts which demanded they work from sunrise to sundown, not leave the plantation, or invite guests to it. Penalties were applied to those who were paupers or vagrants. Effectively, the freed slaves were to be forced to live under conditions virtually the same as slavery. $250.

Item 209 is the Address of S. Teackle Wallis...at the Unveiling of the Statue of Chief Justice Taney. December 10th, 1872. Wallis would have appreciated Taney, author of the notorious Dred Scott Decision that declared blacks as less than humans, as he was a Maryland legislator with southern sympathies imprisoned by Lincoln during the war. With great hyperbole, Wallis "...commemorates a life, than which few greater, and none loftier or purer, shall dignify the annals of our country." Then, apparently oblivious to the irony, Wallis describes "...the free institutions of which Taney was the worshipper and champion..." $125.

A great comeback is always worth the price, particularly if it is only $50. Item 17 is Henry Ward Beecher's Fraternity Edition...Mr. Beecher's...Reply to Certain Criticisms Made Upon Him for So Doing; Including His Opinion of Total Depravity. Total Depravity is a doctrine that says man is unable to reach beyond his own self-interest, incapable of loving God without His grace. Or something like that. I'm not a theologian. Evidently, Beecher was accused of holding to this doctrine, which he denied. Writes Beecher, "We heartily hate the phrase, and never feel inclined to use it, except when reading the ethics of The New York Observer, or the religious editorials of The Puritan Recorder." Touché. $50.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.com. Their website is www.lesserbooks.com.

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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