Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2008 Issue

The Lincoln, Washington and the Presidents

Geo.w

The man himself


By Bruce McKinney

The February issue of the AE Comet, a catalogue of material selected from our members' online inventories, this month focuses on Washington, Lincoln and the Presidents. It's an apt subject given the Presidents Birthday holiday and the incandescent presidential primaries that are sweeping America faster than Keith Olbermann and Brian Williams can say "reporting live from Nashville." AE's listing members have contributed their thoughts, ideas and suggestions to create a catalogue of material that expresses both the readability and collect-ability of a subject that scales the Himalayas of American collecting and also reaches into the smallest towns and most distant places. Presidents have often emerged from obscure backgrounds and places, have appeared in newspaper articles, pamphlets and books long before [and after] they achieved collect-ability. Their influence is such that they became the subject of tens of thousands of printed items that include them or make reference to subjects now forever entwined with their Presidencies and the periods they led the nation.

Growing up in the Hudson Valley of New York State I experienced this first hand, this weaving of the human tapestry in which the President is an indelible single thread creating lasting connections across everyday life. Lyndon Johnson visited Ellenville, New York in August, 1966 to support Congressman Joseph Resnick. The underlying issue was Resnick's support of the Vietnam War and the visit President Johnson's gesture of gratitude to him. The dedication program for the Hospital dedicated in Ellenville that day is interesting ephemera, the visit a footnote to a tumultuous era.

Dan Weinberg, the Lincoln specialist in Chicago recently expressed it this way - "We study these individuals and their histories to both know them and better know ourselves. As we deeply study an historical person or era, we inculcate what we learn -- the joys, the sorrows, the achievements, the regrets – adding those years of experience to our own."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived in Hyde Park in nearby Dutchess County. Martin Van Buren lived in Kinderhook. Alton Parker, the Democrat's candidate for President in 1904, lived in Ulster. George Clinton, Vice President under both Jefferson and Madison was born in what is now Orange County and is buried at Kingston in Ulster County. Levi Parsons Morton, Vice President under Benjamin Harrison was a Dutchess County man. Even Abraham Lincoln had a Hudson Valley connection. He visited Poughkeepsie on April 25th, 1865 when his funeral train made a brief stop.

While for some the connection is place, for others it's a period, era or movement. Black history is a continuous thread that runs unbroken, if inconsistently, from first President George Washington to today's candidate Barack Obama. For others it's the women's movement, the campaign for the right to vote, the views of the candidates and Presidents, and all the many ancillary activities that involved and affected women down through the decades. The changing role of women in presidential politics could fill many public libraries. For collectors, shelves devoted to a single aspect of this movement can engage personal interest for a lifetime.

For others the hook is campaign paraphernalia. It turns out, that from the beginning, supporters have sought to wear a ribbon or pin that identifies them with a party, a movement and often particular candidates. Today this material emerges through dealers, at auction and on eBay as a substantially undocumented flow that is difficult to describe and hard to identify. Laid into an 1860 campaign biography, a ribbon for Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate, becomes an iconic symbol of a great man and reminder that, through it all, great men and great ideas survive and prosper even in and sometimes because of, the desperation of the times. Neither book nor object is so powerful on their own as they are together. Evidence of real life mixed with the words of real history is for many the stuff of real passion.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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