Rare Book Monthly
Articles - November - 2003 Issue
America, America (and two more Americas)<br>Four new Americana Catalogues
The Reese catalogue is presented in chronological order, with early entries pertaining to the French period. Then, in 1763, comes the Treaty of Paris, which ended the French and Indian War and France’s role as a power in North America. England acquired America east of the Mississippi, Spain got Louisiana and the west, while Canada moved from French to British sovereignty. Item 18 is a copy of this treaty in English ($5,000) while item 19 is a copy in Spanish ($3,500). And, for those wondering how the U.S. could purchase Louisiana from France in 1803 after she ceded authority to Spain in 1763, a later treaty returned the territory to France for a brief period prior to the Louisiana Purchase.
Item 30 is the Pamplona edition (in Spanish) of Pinckney’s Treaty of 1795. This treaty between Spain and the U.S. settled boundary issues between the two, notably in Florida and along the Mississippi, and of particular importance, granted Americans free navigation of the Mississippi. $5,000.
Item 42 is a first printing of the treaty of the Louisiana Purchase. Included is the treaty and a message from the President, Thomas Jefferson, urging Congress to act “without delay.” That they did and Louisiana became U.S. territory. $30,000.
The Louisiana Purchase led to one of the more bizarre episodes in U.S. history, the Burr Conspiracy. Aaron Burr, former vice-president and almost president, his reputation now tarnished by his famed duel with Alexander Hamilton, attempted to create a new country in the western lands and Mexico. He would, of course, have been its ruler. Item 55 is Joseph Daviess’ A View of the President’s Conduct, Concerning the Conspiracy of 1806. Daviess pushed the President to prosecute Burr but was initially rebuffed, and then dismissed from his role as federal district attorney for Kentucky. This pamphlet is Daviess’ response and it’s a strong condemnation of Jefferson’s conduct. $30,000. Item 64 offers a report on Burr’s sensational trial for the conspiracy, in which he was acquitted. $2,750.
Reports of several early expeditions into the new territory are offered in this catalogue. Francois Perrin du Lac traveled up the Missouri into what is now South Dakota in 1802. A first edition of his work in French from 1805 is available as item 51 for $9,500, or a first English edition from 1807 as item 61 for $850. Perrin du Lac’s report is one of the few that precedes Lewis and Clark. Item 62 is Zebulon Pike’s earlier and less well-known An Account of a Voyage up the Mississippi River… Pike is best remembered for the Colorado peak that bears his name. That would come later. $30,000.
And then there is the 2,000-pound gorilla of western collecting. It’s here. Item 90 is the famed History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark…, in two volumes, printed in Philadelphia in 1814. The Lewis and Clark report is not extremely rare, but is so desired by Americana collectors that it is still one of the most expensive American books around. This one is an “excellent copy” and is priced at $175,000. If that’s a bit dear, a first British printing is available as item 91 for a more modest $35,000.
William Reese Co. can be located on the internet at www.reeseco.com or by phone at 203-789-8081.