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 The experiment in "fanaticism" was repealed the following year.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>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>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Adams (Richard). <i>Watership Down,</i> FIRST EDITION, author inscription on front free end paper, folded map tipped in, original boards, dust-jacket. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bowles (John). <i>Several Prospects of the Most…la Ville de Londres, avec des Remarques Historiques fort Succinctes, qui les Regardant,</i> 20 double page engraved plates only, of 23, 1724. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Auden (W.H.). <i>Our Hunting Fathers,</i> FIRST SEPARATE EDITION, 1 of 22 copies, COPY B OF 5 PRINTED ON NORMANDIE, original patterned wrappers, Cambridge, for Frederic Prokosch, 1935. £800 to £1200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Barrie (J. M.) & Attwell (Mabel Lucie, illustrator). <i>Peter Pan & Wendy,</i> FIRST EDITION, 12 chromolithograph plates, publisher's blue cloth, original printed dust jacket, [c.1920]; and 3 others (4). £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bartolozzi (Francesco). Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce; Agriculture (Husbandry Aided by Arts and Commerce), glazed and framed. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> A collection of engraved caricatures, including Gillray ([James]) Tales of Wonder!, 1802; Rowlandson (Thomas) Sports, Smock Racing, 1811;Irish Jaunting Carr, 1814. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bennett (Charles H, illustrator). <i>Æsop’s Fables,</i> 1875; Buchanan (Robert). <i>Ballad Stories of the Affections,</i> [1866]; Douce (Francis), The Dance of Death, 1833. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Chinese Illustrations. A group of 6 Cantonese rice paper illustrations, depicting scenes of torture with different instruments, gouache, c.340 x 220mm, original wrapper boards preserved, [c. 1800]. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Dulac (Edmund). <i>The Queen of Romania, The Dreamer of Dreams,</i> 5 coloured plates, [1915]; and others illustrated by Edmund Dulac. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Fronth (Per). Xingu Chronicles, the portfolio, comprising 30 plates, photogravues in colours, each signed, dated and titled in pencil, each numbered 10/35, on wove paper, 790 x 600 x 60mm, 1997. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doctor Zhivago,</i> FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, original red publisher’s cloth, pictorial dust jacket, 4to, Collins & Harvill Press, 1958. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> 13 sepia photographs of visitors to the Thermes Nationaux d’Aix-les-Bains, c. 150 x 105mm, c.1890 (12). £300 to £400
  • <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>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>

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