Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2010 Issue

Autographs and Manuscripts from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins105

Autographs and manuscripts from James Cummins Bookseller.


By Michael Stillman

James Cummins Bookseller has issued a catalogue that is not a catalogue of books at all. Its title is Autographs and Manuscripts, featuring, naturally, the written (occasionally typewritten) word, not the printed one. That is not to say there aren't many writers, along with other leading figures represented here. However, what we get are more likely glimpses into their personal lives, in the form of letters and other one-of-a-kind documents. Here is where you may learn something about the famous person not as visible through their public writings and speeches. This is a look behind the scenes.

Item 114 is a remarkable letter from a young soldier in 1861 to his sister back home. The 18-year-old soldier was William McKinley, who three and one-half decades later would be elected President of the United States. In 1861, McKinley was stationed in Virginia, fighting for the Union Army. In response to the question whether Union soldiers were becoming tired of fighting and were anxious to return home, McKinley responds that he felt his services were needed when he first left home, and now they are needed even more. "...[C]onsequently I have no desire to return to my civil occupation, when my country is bleeding from a 'thrust' made by inborn Traitors. Much as I love home and its blessed associations, my native country, the Government that gave me birth, freedom and education, shall not be destroyed, if my services can assist to prevent it." Priced at $9,000.

Item 93 is an odd document from another brave soldier (or sailor) who served in another war, and also later became President. The typed statement reads, "I hereby assume all responsibility of mattress when rubber sheet is removed from my bed." It is signed "John F. Kennedy, Lt. USN," and dated July 1, 1944. The explanation for this bizarre document is that Kennedy was recuperating from injuries in Boston at the time, and was about to undergo back surgery at New England Baptist Hospital. The hospital had a policy that if you wanted the rubber undersheet removed from your bed (and evidently it did not add to a patient's comfort), you had to take responsibility for any damage that might result to the mattress. Fortunately, the Kennedy family was quite wealthy, so the future President was able to take this gamble for comfort's sake. $5,000.

Item 5 is a letter from the one and only P.T. Barnum to James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald. Barnum, of course, was the master showman, and at the time he was promoting the American tour of "The Swedish Nightingale," songstress Jenny Lind. The year was 1850, and the Herald apparently had some not so nice comments about Lind and Barnum. The showman didn't mind. He long ago realized that negative publicity simply brought in more paying customers. Barnum writes Bennett that he is not the least offended or annoyed, noting, "I am too old a soldier to flinch much at paper bullets." $3,500.

Item 41 is an interesting letter from the great western writer and cattleman J. Frank Dobie to a young reader. Dobie laments that television, movies, and Western books have overemphasized violence, rather than the decency and loyalty of the men who worked the herds. He writes, "The old trail driver who claimed that his life had been saved six times by his NOT having a six-shooter represented open range days better than any Billy the Kid." $300.

Item 109 is a letter from an obscure writer, not a famous name. His name was Allan Beattie, and he was 18-years-old when he traveled with his mother on the RMS Lusitania. The Lusitania was the British passenger ship torpedoed by the Germans in 1915, during World War I. Almost 1,200 of the slightly under 2,000 persons on board died. It led to international outrage against the Germans, playing a role in America's eventual entry into the war. Beattie writes of the initial confusion, of his giving the first life jacket he found to another, only to have to retreat below to find the lifejacket in his room. This one he gave away too, to his mother, who observed, "I am not nervous I don't think there is much danger do you?" Beattie says he thought it looked "about as bad as it could," and forced his mother to put on the lifejacket. Shortly thereafter, the boat went down, and his mother was lost. He slid down the entire length of the deck and was flung free, being one of the fortunate ones to be picked up by a lifeboat shortly thereafter. This 12-page letter by the survivor from Winnipeg was written shortly after the sinking. $15,000.

James Cummins Bookseller may be reached at 212-688-6441 or cummins@panix.com. Their website is www.jamescumminsbookseller.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> WETZEL, CHARLES M. American Fishing Books. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> BISSELL, ALFRED E., <i>In Pursuit of Salar.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> <i>The Settler and Sportsman in Anticosti.</i> $400 to $600
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> CARLETON, HENRY GUY, <i>Advice to Young Anglers.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> ROBINSON, ROLAND EVANS, <i>Forest and Stream Fables. By Awahsoose the Bear.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SAWADA, KEN, <i>The Art of the Classic Salmon Fly.</i> $300 to $500
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>The Evolution of Trout and Trout Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>Trout Fly-Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. Sold for $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. Sold for $65,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Louise Bourgeois, <i>He Disappeared Into Complete Silence,</i> portfolio with complete text & 9 engravings, 1947. Sold for $413,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Erich Maria Remarque, <i>All Quiet on the Western Front,</i> first American edition, Boston, 1929. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, gouache & watercolor illustration for Homer's <i>Odyssey,</i> 1924. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Kurt Vonnegut, archive of 12 letters, signed to his family, 6 illustrated, 1930s-40s. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>Lady Windermere's Fan,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, London, 1893. Sold for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>St. Moritz,</i> 1918. Sold for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> R.J. Waters, 3 panoramas of the San Francisco earthquake & fire, 1906. Sold for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Album with 200 cartes-de-visite, including images by Felice Beato, John Thompson & F.W. Sutton, Japan & China, 1863-69. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. Sold for $40,000.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s New York<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts Online<br>Ending December 17</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies…</i> The Second Impression. 1632. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> GEORGE CURZON, 1ST MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON. “Curzon Tiger Hunt.” [India: circa 1901]. 120 albumen photographs. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> (CASSADY, NEAL). Kerouac, Jack. <i>On the Road.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1957. Inscribed. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> VEGA, JOSEPH PENSO DE LA. <i>Confusion de Confusiones. Dialogos curiosos entre un Philosopho agudo, un Mercader discrete...</i> Amsterdam, 1688. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> RACKHAM, ARTHUR — [WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE]. "The Moon Like to a Silver Bow New-Bent in Heaven," original illustration for <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream.</i> $12,000 to $18,000
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

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