Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2011 Issue

History, Literature, Manuscripts and More from James Cummins Bookseller

South Groton (Ayer) Massachusetts schoolchildren in 1863.

James Cummins Bookseller has published catalogue 109. This is a wonderful collection of mixed material, hard to pin down because of its variety. History and literature are to be readily found, as are many manuscript items - letters, personal accounts, speeches, and the like. Suffice it to say this is fascinating and significant material, definitely worth a look. Here are a few samples.

 

Item 92 contains the signature of a rural farmer, sometimes carpenter, a man who made little mark during his life and died an unknown. It is valuable, not because of Thomas Lincoln's achievements, but because of those of his son, Abraham. Signatures of Thomas Lincoln, who moved around from Virginia to Kentucky to Indiana and Illinois, are rare, as might be expected from an obscure early 19th century farmer. Lincoln was essentially uneducated, but as this document attests, could sign his name. It is a promissory note, and Lincoln has signed as a witness. It is dated 1801, almost eight years prior to the birth of his famous son. Abraham Lincoln was not close, at least emotionally, to his father, who was not warm towards his children, nor appreciative of young Abe's interest in book learning. Thomas was more interested in his son's contributions to the family in the fields. Abe was close to his mother, and after she died, his stepmother, both of whom appreciated his intellectual skills more than did his father. Item 92. Priced at $5,000.

 

What you see pictured on the cover of this catalogue is 62 framed ambrotype portraits of students at the South Groton (Massachusetts) Grammer School in 1863 (fortunately, this was a "grammer" school, not a spelling one). To that is added a large, center portrait of their teacher. Androtype was a film process popular in the 1850s and 1860s whereby a positive image is created on a glass plate, which is sealed in place, usually with a second sheet of glass. The photographer is listed only as "Ross," evidently H.P. Ross, a local photographer at that time. South Groton, also known then as Groton Junction, is today's community of Ayer. Item 139. $15,000.

 

Item 33 is a letter from noted inventor George Washington Carver to a student, Rebecca Caudhill, in response to three philosophical questions. Miss Caudhill has asked such difficult questions as, "Does truth exist only in the abstract," and, "What is necessary to have a knowledge of things." In part of his answer, Professor Carver, a man of deep faith, explains, "…each and all of the above perplexities will be made clear in proportion to the rapidity and the nearness with which we live in accordance with the wish of the "Great Creator"; thus losing the finite and taking on the infinite." And you thought all he did was make things out of peanuts! $1,000.

 

When asked for advice, Vice-President (and future President) Calvin Coolidge, "Silent Cal," was much less complicated. When 18-year-old D.M. Stoner asked for advice on how to live, Coolidge was able to concentrate what to do into a concise nutshell:  "All you need to do is WORK and SAVE YOUR MONEY. Just two things." Actually, the advice was slightly more complicated as Coolidge also recommended Stoner purchase some life insurance. Item 43. $1,250.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.

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