Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2009 Issue

Rare American Pamphlets from David M. Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser110

Interesting Americana from David M. Lesser.


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their 110th catalogue of Rare Americana. Lesser specializes in pamphlets mainly from late Colonial times to the Reconstruction, though there are always a few items outside of these boundaries. The publications are focused on political, religious, and other topics of the day and offer great insight into what was happening in America back then. At times, the controversies seem so similar to those we experience today one wonders whether we ever do learn from history. Here are a few of the items David Lesser offers for your consideration this time around.

Item 53 is one of several American Seaman's Protection orders, this one issued from New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1844. It is made out to Walter P. Johnson, described as, "...6 feet 0 3/4 inches, complexion, black, hair, woolly, eyes, black, born at Baltimore..." These orders were originally intended for the protection of American seamen against impressment in the British Navy. However, such impressments stopped after the War of 1812. At this point, they were needed by black sailors entering southern ports as otherwise they might be subject to arrest or possibly be sold into slavery if they could not establish their citizenship. Priced at $450.

The above hints at the horrible inconsistency of those who argued most ardently for equal rights for the poorer members of American society. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was the Jeffersonians who fought for the little guy against the Federalists, who represented more the interests of wealthy northerners. However, the Jeffersonians had their Achilles heal - slavery. They were primarily from the South and were often slave owners themselves. This inconsistency was not let pass by William Plumer in An Address to the Electors of New-Hampshire during the election of 1804. In arguing against Jefferson's reelection, Plumer points out, "Virginians boast of their love of liberty, and of their passionate attachment to the equal rights of men, yet receive their daily support from the labour of PEOPLE condemned by their laws to PERPETUAL SLAVERY." Item 124. $275.

The end of the world was just around the corner in 1861 when M. Baxter published End of the World About 1864-1869. It is a compilation of prophecies of "dreadful wars, famines, pestilence and earthquakes." He predicts the "subjugation of England about 1864-5 by Napoleon the Antichrist," who would form a seven years' covenant with the Jews. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that this, like all other past end of the world prophecies, proved false. I believe the currently most popular untested one running around is based on the Inca or some other ancient South American calendar for around 2012. Be prepared. Item 13. $175.

We've seen some odd promotional materials in the past, but this one for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad seems downright macabre. It is headed Charts Showing in Detail the Pulse, Temperature & Respiration of the President Morning, Noon and Evening, from July 3d to Sept. 8th. With Space Left Blank to Continue the Lines from Day to Day. Compiled and Prepared from Official Bulletins. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Though undated, this could only be from 1881. President Garfield was struck by an assassin's bullet on July 2, 1881, but he lingered for months. The Baltimore and Ohio evidently prepared this chart so one could track his progress, sort of like we track hurricanes on hurricane maps. Alas, the concerned tracking of the B&O's riders could not save the mortally wounded President who succumbed on September 19. Item 57. $250.

We all know about the house that Jack built, but how about The Plug that Jack Chews? Evidently it must have been one the brands put out by the Drummond Tobacco Company of St. Louis, which published this nursery rhyme in 1890. You need to get the children started early. Item 38. $375.

Would you like a really bad investment? Item 29 is a $1,000 bond issued by the city of New Orleans on March 20, 1862. The bond promises to pay interest in genuine Confederate dollars, which would be worthless soon enough. However, it's unlikely the bearer even got this dubious currency as New Orleans fell to Union forces the following month. The only hope for the bearer was to hold on for another century and a half and then sell it as a collectible. $500.

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

You will find many of David M. Lesser's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Titus Livius, <i>Las Quatorze Decadas,</i> Zaragoza, 1520. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Printed <i>Book of Hours</i> with 20 full-page illustrations, Paris, 1509. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Jean La Fontaine, <i>Fables Choisies, mises en Vers,</i> first editions, Paris, 1668. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Giovanni Boccaccio, <i>De las mujeres illustres en romance,</i> Zaragoza, 1494. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Giovanni Boccaccio, third edition of the first published work of female biography, Louvain, 1487. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Andreas Vesalius, <i>Icones Anatomicae,</i> Munich, Bremer Press, 1934. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 16:</b> Joseph Boneta y Laplana, <i>Gritos del Purgatorio, y Medios para acallarlos,</i> Manila, 1711. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b> The Library of Pierre Bergé<br>Auction Pierre Bergé & Associés<br>in association with Sotheby’s<br>Paris-Hôtel Drout<br>December 14, 2018<br><br>New York Exhibition<br>Oct. 16 to Oct. 20</b>
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> BARTHOLOMEUS ANGLICUS. <i>Le Proprietaire des choses.</i> Lyon, [circa 1484]. 150 000 / 200 000 €
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> MONTAIGNE, Michel de. <i>Essais.</i> Bordeaux, 1580. 400 000 / 500 000 €
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> PROUST, Marcel. <i>Du côté de chez Swann.</i> Paris, 1914 [1913]. 600 000 / 800 000 €
    <b>The Library of Pierre Bergé, NY exhibition 10/16 to 10/20:</b> MONSTRELET, Enguerrand de. <i>Le Premier [-Tiers] Volume des Cronicques.</i> Paris, circa 1503.<br>300 000 / 400 000 €
  • <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>

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