Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2003 Issue

American Historical Novels:<br>Scribner&#146;s Catalogue 115 Revisited


Scribner's felt good about this catalogue and rightfully so.

The Hawthorne finds four matches ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 for copies that are not identical.? In looking at these choices it is useful to select the sort by "newest" to see who has been out there the longest. ?It turns out to be the highest priced copy suggesting that price may be holding that copy back.? The Legend of Black Rangers doesn't show up at all.

The Fifth highest is D. P. Thompson’s The Green Mountain Boys published in 1839 in two volumes.? Scribner says of this book, “Of the greatest rarity in any condition” and prices them at $165.? They must have known that a tough copy would be available in New England when I looked recently.? The condition of this set would not disappoint Scribner's opinion.? It’s now sitting next to me in a custom box that serves the purpose of the mask for the man in the iron mask.? At $335 net I have a fragile gem.

Sixth, Seventh and eighth are books at $150:? William A Carruthers' The Knights of the Horse-shoe, 1845; William Gilmore Simms" The Yemassee, 1835; and James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, 1826.

Mr. Carruthers"book is not available on ABE in the first edition though there are three copies found in a title search of "The Knights of the Golden Horse-shoe" for a 1970's reprint.? Mr. Simms" The Yamassee was available in a single copy of the first printing and I bought it for $255 delivered.? The seller indicated he had had the book for a while and had been asking $350.? The Philadelphia first edition of Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans is not available but a second edition is and it is $3,500.? Wow.? I live in fear that a first will show up.? It’s also quite possible this second edition is over-priced.

Ninth, tenth and eleventh belong to first editions priced at $125: Robert Montgomery Bird’s Nick of the Woods, 1837; Charles Brockden Brown's Arthur Mervyn, 1799; and Edward Everett Hale’s The Man without a Country, 1865.

There are three copies of Nick of the Woods ranging from $300 for a single volume of the two volume set to $1,650 for a copy with a “neat” repair. There are also three copies of Arthur Mervyn, an account of Philadelphia during the yellow fever plague of 1793 priced $500 to $1,800 and six copies of The Man without a Country priced between $950 and $1,500.

There are 217 other books in this catalogue, many of which are inexpensive. In fact ninety –eight of them are $10 or less in the original catalogue.

Within a day of starting work on this project I began to systematically look on line for most of the items. When an available copy appeared to be similar to the Scribner copy I then looked at the price difference. When this difference was small enough I tended to inquire further about the copy and the availability of a better price. In the course of a solid week I purchased about 40 of the 228 titles for about $3,000. A few of these books were among the great rarities in the Scribner catalogue and others were absolutely common but looked interesting to read. Most are of course in between. Click HERE To Access the American Historical Novels Collection No.1

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions