A Collection for the Ages<br>From The 19th Century Shop
By Michael Stillman
The 19th Century Shop has issued its “Occasional List 96” of rare books and manuscripts. Don’t be fooled by their name. Some of their offerings are newer, and some are older, than that century. There are even a few relatively recent (second half of the 20th century) items that are already very collectible.
But, we’ll start with the 19th century, and one of the darker days of American history. It’s an original printing of the dreadful Dred Scott Decision in 1857. This was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which placed property rights over human rights in the case of slaves. It was one of the final straws that led Americans to the one time in their history they chose to resolve their differences through war rather than legal processes. $3,800.
A more positive Supreme Court collectible is a photograph of the court from the 1940s, signed by all nine of its members. Among those autographs are those of Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and Robert Jackson. $3,500. Oddly, a similar signed Supreme Court photo from the Earl Warren era is also available at this time. See the article on Catherine Barnes elsewhere in this month’s AE Monthly.
The lyrics to Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner first appeared in Analectic Magazine in 1814. Back then it was known as the Defence of Fort M’Henry. $7,500.
Theodore Roosevelt retold his story of the Spanish American War in 1899, a year before elected vice-president, in The Rough Riders. This is a first edition and is signed boldly by T.R. himself. $7,500.
Mark Twain was perennially displeased with the lack of sufficient copyright protection for his works. Evidently, once the copyrights expired, the publisher would continue to reap the rewards of exclusive rights, as by “custom,” no other publisher would reprint those works. However, the author would no longer receive royalties. This letter to the Speaker of the House commends Congress for 1909 legislation providing for renewal of copyrights. “In the end,” Twain dryly notes, “the author will be lifted to the rank of the publisher & the shoemaker; he will be the actual owner of his property…” Signed “S.L. Clemens.” $15,000.