Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2009 Issue

New Acquisitions in Americana from the William Reese Company

Reese272

New acquisitions at the William Reese Company.


By Michael Stillman

The William Reese Company has issued its 272nd catalogue, New Acquisitions in Americana. These are all works pertaining to North America that Reese has not offered in any previous catalogues. They are all significant works, some qualifying as very important to American history. While Reese publishes catalogues on other types of books, Americana is their specialty, and they are preeminent booksellers in the field. Here are a few of the new titles being offered.

Item 55 is a copy of the fourth and best edition of Benjamin Franklin's Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America... To describe Franklin as multitalented would be an understatement. He is most noted as one of America's most influential diplomats, essential to bringing France in on the Americans' side during the Revolution. His other notable careers included printer, almanac publisher, and perhaps most important, scientist. His research with electricity has led to his recognition as America's leading scientist of the 18th century. This fourth edition of his experiments with electricity was the first containing his complete notes and correspondence on the subject. Priced at $13,500.

Here is a story that would have dominated cable news had it happened today. Alexander Hamilton, America's first Secretary of the Treasury, had been caught making payments to one James Reynolds. The expose implied that he was personally speculating with government funds, forcing Hamilton to reveal the truth. It wasn't pretty. Item 63 is his response to the charges: Observations on Certain Documents...in which the Charge of Speculation Against Alexander Hamilton...is Fully Refuted. The fact was that Hamilton was having an affair with Reynolds' wife, and had paid him off to keep quiet. The revelation refuted the charges of corruption, but the embarrassing details effectively destroyed his political career. The first edition of this item, published by Hamilton himself, was mostly bought up and destroyed by his family. This copy is from the 1800 second edition, published by his enemies to keep the scandal in the public eye during the election of 1800. $1,250.

Item 35 is a book that was hardly worth the effort. It is A Digest of the Military and Naval Laws of the Confederate States... compiled by W.W. Lester and William J. Bromwell. Published in 1864, it sets forth details on military regulations, salaries, rations, employment of Blacks, and so on. However, the publication date hints at the futility of the enterprise, as it would be just a matter of months before the Confederate government would be no more. $1,000.

Item 75 is a rare and unusual work, The American Woods, Exhibited by Actual Specimens and with Copious Explanatory Text, by Romeyn Beck Hough. Reese calls this rarity a "labor of love." It contains 14 volumes, the first 13 published between 1893-1913, the last volume in 1928 by his daughter after Hough's death. The volumes are arranged by region, and they contain samples of the various types of wood, sliced so thin as to be translucent. The relatively high price of the work ($5 per volume) and the long period over which it was published make complete sets of this unusual work very rare. $32,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
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  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…

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