Three New Catalogues of Americana

- by Michael Stillman



An 1860 broadside would have to be an election, slavery, or rebellion related item, you might think. Not this one. It’s an advertisement for a patented “New and Superior Lamp, for Burning Lard.” Thank God for the invention of the electric light. Burns for sixteen hours on just half a pound of lard. Item 81 comes with directions for using the lamp, in case you should find one. $150.

How about an Abraham Lincoln signature for $100? Here’s a manuscript from the Worcester, Massachusetts, Overseers of the Poor, to their brethren in North Boylston. Seems that one Sanderson Whitaker was in “gaol” for debt, was poor, unable to support himself, destitute and in distress. How could someone with a name like “Sanderson Whitaker” be in such dire financial straits? The Overseers of Worcester were undoubtedly pleased to learn that Mr. Whitaker was actually a resident of North Boylston, so they could dump the responsibility for caring for him off on their neighbors. One of the Overseers signing the document was Abraham Lincoln. The year is 1820. Probably not the same Abraham Lincoln. Item 114. $100.

Collectors of items related to women’s rights will be interested in item 115. It’s Mrs. E.P.W. Packard’s 1868 The Prisoner’s Hidden Life, or Insane Asylums Unveiled. In those days, it was fairly easy for husbands to have their wives sent off to insane asylums, where they were treated more like criminals. Evidently Mrs. Packard retained enough of her marbles to write this expose for the Illinois legislature. $350.

How about some bad poetry? Poems on Various Subjects, by Miss Jane Roseboom, was described once by Wright Howes as “these verses are only equaled in atrocity by her sister singer of Michigan, Julia Moore.” Consider this one a coffee table book. Item 132. $250.

If you’re from Dwight, Illinois, you’ll want item 39, the History of Dwight from 1853 to 1894. One of the most notable events in the town’s history was the discovery by Dr. Keeley in 1880 of a means for curing alcoholics. Who lost this? $350. For residents of Sidney, Nebraska, there’s the obscure 1885 Home Seekers’ Guide. Judging by Sidney’s size, this publication was not a huge success. Item 12. $350.

And then there’s my favorite, the Rules and Regulations of the Green-Wood Cemetery. This one is described as coming in its “original stiff wrappers.” Item 59. $250.

You may reach David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books on the web at or by phone at 203-389-8111.