Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2012 Issue

Rare Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Rare Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books recently issued their catalogue No. 125 Rare Americana. Lesser focuses primarily on shorter form material related to America, from a little before the Revolution, to a little after the Civil War. There are occasional longer pieces, a few earlier or later than this date range, and an occasional British publication, but the concentration is as described above. We will now take a look at a few of the pieces offered in this latest selection of almost 200 items.

We will start with an account of a most heinous crime: An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony on the Charge of Illegal Voting at the Presidential Election in Nov., 1872... Ms. Anthony went to the polls in 1872 and argued before the election inspectors that the recently passed 14th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed women the right to vote. That amendment provided all citizens equal protection under the law, and access to all of the privileges and immunities of citizenship. Of course, the 14th Amendment had been passed to provide equal protection to the former slaves and other black citizens after the Civil War, not women. Still, the wording did not limit to whom equal protection was to apply. The election inspectors agreed with her argument and allowed Ms. Anthony to vote. The Feds were not amused, and put Ms. Anthony on trial. A U.S. Supreme Court Justice presided, and ordered the jury to find the defendant guilty. The Judge ordered her to pay a $100 fine. Ms. Anthony refused to pay the fine, and embarrassed by the case, the government never made a serious attempt to collect it. This account, published in 1874, includes trial testimony, arguments of counsel, and the verdict. Item 9. Priced at $2,750.

It is never pleasant when you find flaws in your heroes, even more so when they are deep flaws in an American hero. Item 53 is The Trial of Reuben Crandall, M.D. Charged with Publishing Seditious Libels, by Circulating the Publications of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Crandall was a physician and at most a minor abolitionist, not someone intimately involved with the movement. Nonetheless, he possessed some abolitionist literature at the time of race riots in Washington, D.C., and in 1836, a local prosecutor put him on trial. The prosecutor who wished to imprison Crandall for free speech was none other than the man who coined the description of America as the “land of the free,” the author of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key. Why Key, now a federal prosecutor, was so vehement in his prosecution is unclear. Key was one of those of inconsistent positions, someone who thought slavery sinful, but nonetheless owned slaves himself. He was a promoter of the idea of sending freed slaves back to Africa (though most were born in America). Key saw abolitionists as the great evil, rather than the slaves themselves, though he appealed to the white jury's prejudices in attacking abolitionists, “whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the Negro.” The jury rejected Key's arguments and followed those of the defense that warned everyone's rights were at stake, and voted to keep America the land of the free. Crandall was acquitted. Sadly, Dr. Crandall contracted tuberculosis while awaiting trial in jail and died three years later. $3,500.

As long as we are going to examine our heroes for their flaws, let's look at an attack on our greatest one, George Washington. There aren't too many things about which one can fault his character, but even he had an occasional shortcoming. Item 131 is a Letter from Thomas Paine to George Washington, published in 1797. Paine was a great hero to America for his attack on British rule at the time of the Revolution. He was a great advocate for democracy and freedom, but his views on religion turned most Americans against him in later years. He was not enamored with the religion of his day, and many considered him an atheist. His support for more radical revolution abroad also did not endear him to many in America's leadership class. Paine supported the radical French Revolution and was even elected to that nation's assembly. However, as it became more radical, Paine advocated for the exile of the King, rather than his execution, and like so many other of the revolution's early, more moderate supporters, found himself imprisoned as it spun out of control. Paine narrowly avoided execution. In his letter, Paine stridently attacked Washington, accusing him of everything in the book, from betrayal to hypocrisy, egomania, and as a man who either abandoned his principles or never had any. The cause of Paine's anger was his belief that Washington did little to attempt to save him from prison and execution despite the influence Washington might have carried with the French government. $750.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions