Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2010 Issue

The Unusual from Garrett Scott, Bookseller

Scott29

The deadly Mrs. Walters on the cover of Garrett Scott's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Garrett Scott, Bookseller, has released Catalogue Twenty-nine, A Miscellany. The Ann Arbor based Scott specializes in the unusual. His books, pamphlets, and ephemera almost always meet one of the two standard meanings for "unusual," either uncommon or strange. You will not find much from Whitman or Longfellow in a Scott catalogue. However, if your tastes run to Richard Griffin, the early 20th century New York "poet" whose works may not be as well acclaimed as those of the previously mentioned gentlemen, but are infinitely more entertaining, this is your place. There are three books here from Griffin. Now for some of the material offered.

Richard Griffin certainly must qualify as one of the best of the worst when it comes to poetry. Griffin was not the standard "bad poet," such as England's legendary William McGonagall who wrote about serious topics of the day in the apparent belief that as long as the words rhymed, nothing else mattered. Griffin makes the transition from mere bad to very strange. As such, it's hard to discern whether he was pulling our leg or was a raving lunatic. Perhaps the best answer is that he was both. The total absurdity of some of his poems, and the strange but amusing photographs he took of himself, makes one think there was a joke here, or perhaps he was part of the dada movement of his day. On the other hand, such intentional absurdity is usually self-promotional, and Griffy never succeeded in promoting himself very well. His books were not bestsellers; he never achieved any recognition. His poems were self-published as no one else would touch them and his life is veiled in obscurity. He was apparently born in 1857, published and probably wrote his poetry from around age 60 and up (it is unclear what he did before then), put out his last book in 1931 (he would have been 74 then), and disappeared from history. Where or when he died is unknown (Griffin's pictures can be seen on the next two pages of this review).

Item 40 is Griffin's The Lobster's Gizzard and Other Poems, published by the author in 1916. Along with the title piece, it contains such entries as Water on the Brain, The Woman Without Any Ears, The Round-Shouldered Licker, and The Latter Day Saint, an ode to multiple marriage:

"The first girl I married, sweet Lulu,
Oh my! Such a dumpling, one corker,
High stepper, stuck up like a Zulu,
But also a nice little porker."

The title piece, Scott explains, is a tale of a man encouraged by a wizard to consume the gizzard of a magical lobster. One thing we learn from this poem is that there are several words that rhyme with gizzard - wizard, lizard, blizzard. Griffin uses them liberally. $150.

The charming young lady on the cover of this catalogue is Ann Walters, the lead character in the Confession of Ann Walters, the Murderess! Walters was a most evil woman, a tavern keeper on the Delaware-Maryland border. She did away with her husband and a baby, and then began running a gang of killer-thieves who did the same to some of the travelers who stopped at her tavern. It was all a very sensational tale, which lacked for but one thing - the truth. There was no Ann Walters, but why let truth stand in the way of a good story? Item 100. $450.

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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