Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2004 Issue

All Politics Is Local: Books of Millie O'Neill and Speaker of the House Thomas P. O&#39Neill Jr.


What we can surmise indirectly is that although Treasures was a “Coffee-table” book, it was not resident on an O'Neill coffee table.

By Renée Magriel Roberts

When we arrived in Harwich Port in 1975 it was hard to ignore what I can only think of as a large presence at Ike’s breakfast place on Main Street. Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. and his family had a home here, within walking distance to Bank Street Beach. By ’75 Tip had been in politics for over 40 years. He was hard to miss in the village, which was — and still is — a pretty sleepy little place. He was affable and approachable and ate his breakfast in one of the leatherette booths or on a stool at a formica countertop, right in front of the short-order cook. Representative O’Neill didn’t have airs; he was a real person in spite of his celebrity, quick with a handshake and a smile.

In 1977, Tip O’Neill capped his already successful political career with a truly remarkable 10-year leadership role as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the longest continuous service in this post in the Nation’s history. Informed by the Great Depression, Tip consistently supported programs for the disadvantaged and let light and air into the secrecy that had enveloped the workings of Congress. Here on the Cape he was responsible for creating and preserving one of the jewels of the National Park System, the Cape Cod National Seashore. As Democrats, and social activists, we revered him, as we revered John F. Kennedy, whose seat in the House Tip had won back in 1952.

In 1984 Boston College named its library after him and received his political papers upon his death in 1994. Last fall, his wife Millie passed away; their estate was settled this year. The O’Neill’s home in Harwich Port was sold; antiques and collectibles were picked up by the local auction house. Items not valuable enough to auction were tagged for a yard sale. The O’Neill children identified and distributed treasures. Tip and Millie’s everyday books were packed into boxes, some destined for the tag sale and others for the Treasure Chest, a free store at our local dump.

We now arrive at the tale of two dogs — Geraldine, a mutt who looks like the dictionary definition of bird dog, with a bossy, runt-like personality, opinionated, and obsessive about working, and Chessie, the pedigreed reddish brown and white Portuguese Water Dog. The former is one of three siblings, foisted on us by a relative; the latter dog belongs to Kip and Stephanie O’Neill, the Speaker’s son and daughter-in-law. We happen to live near the only field in town where you can let your dog exercise (do not ask for the location), and as oftentimes happens, the dogs make friends long before the people do. It is — well — a democratic kind of place where any dog can run, as long as they don’t beat up on other dogs or humans.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Faulkner, William. <i>The Sound and the Fury.</i> New York: Jonathan Cape, [1929]. First edition in dust jacket. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Trautz-Bauzonnet bindery. Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,000 to $3,000
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,500 to $3,500
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Shakespeare’s Sonnets, In Two Parts,</i> limited Saint Dunstan edition, Oxford University Press, 1901. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. $18,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>The Man with the Golden Gun,</i> first edition, first state with the dust jacket, London, 1965. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>The Voyage Out,</i> first American edition of the author’s first book, in rare dust jacket, NY, 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gabriel García Márquez, <i>Cien años de soledad,</i> Buenos Aires, 1967. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Mary Mapes Dodge, <i>Along the Way,</i> first edition, author’s copy, annotated in her hand, NY, 1879. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> <i>The Dial: A Monthly Magazine for Literature, Philosophy and Religion,</i> first edition, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy, Cincinnati, 1860. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gaston Leroux, <i>The Phantom of the Opera,</i> first American edition, first printing, New York, 1911. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Walt Whitman, <i>Leaves of Grass,</i> signed, Camden, 1876. $4,000 to $6,000.

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