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>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
  • <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

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