Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2012 Issue

Books from the Seattle Library of Robert Denny Watt

Cover image of Denny party landing in Seattle, and, oh my gosh, it's raining!

Restoration Books of Seattle has issued a catalogue of material from the library of descendants of one of that city's earliest citizens: The Pioneer Library of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Denny Watt. Mr. Watt was the great-grandson of Arthur A. Denny, leader of the Denny Party, which traveled to Oregon in 1851, but then kept on going to Puget Sound. They are generally considered to be the founders of Seattle. Arthur Denny became both a government leader and a very successful businessman in his newly established hometown. His great-grandson also would be successful in local business. Robert Denny Watt, who was born in 1912, inherited books from the family collection from his mother and aunt. That collection is heavily concentrated in material related to Seattle, Washington State, and the Pacific Northwest. However, there are also numerous books on a wide variety of subjects totally unrelated to that land. They range from dictionaries and spelling books, to titles about slavery, Lincoln, religion, English Parliament, poetry, French rivers, whatever else might have interested someone in the family at one time or another. Here, now, are a few items from the collection of Robert Denny Watt, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 95.

Since we have mentioned the role in Seattle history of Arthur Denny, we might as well start with an account he wrote: Pioneer Days on Puget Sound. It was published 1888, many years after his arrival. Denny tells of their trip along the Oregon Trail from Illinois. Despite some of the hard luck stories we often hear about these pioneers, the Denny family's trip was, for the most part, smooth and uneventful. Only once did Indians attack, but they were at a distance and their aim not very good. Once the immigrants found cover, their attackers decided to move on. Like most others, Denny planned to settle in Oregon, but a stranger told him about Puget Sound, and Denny was intrigued. Along with family and friends, they took a boat that was headed for gold country, but got off at the Sound, set up a camp, and later moved to the site that would become Seattle. By the time Denny wrote this book, his encampment had become a substantial city. Item 51. Priced at $1,000.

Here is a book by a fascinating character from Oregon Trail and much later days, complete with an interesting Denny family inscription. The title is The Ox Team or the Old Oregon Trail. 1853-1906. The gift inscription is from C.S. Denny to Lenora Denny, cousins rather than direct descendants of Arthur Denny. In it, C.S. Denny says that author Ezra Meeker had made the trip to Oregon around the same time (two years later) as Arthur Denny and that he knew the Dennys of Seattle. This seems likely as Meeker also wrote a book about early days on Puget Sound. Meeker was a hardy man. He made the trip in 1853 by oxcart, and in 1906, as part of a movement to encourage preservation of the old trail, he made the journey by oxcart again. He repeated the feat in 1910, at the age of 80. Meeker would also make the trip by train, automobile, and finally by airplane. He lived to be 98. Item 122. $500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
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    Starting 10AM CST
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 80: Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha), Madrid: Por Juan de la Cuesta, 1608. $80,000 to $120,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 239: J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, First London Paperback Edition, London, 1997. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 221: Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, New York, 1985. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 281: Napoleon Bonaparte, Sloane, William Milligan, Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, New York, 1896. $25,000 to $35,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 147: Christoph Jacob Trew, Plantae Selectae quarum Imagines ad Exemplaria Naturalia, Nuremberg, 1750-73. $30,000 to $50,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 125: Guido de Monte Rochen, Manipulus Curatorum, London, 1509. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 197: William Faulkner, Turn About, Ottawa, 1939. $8,000 to $10,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 159: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, London, 1844. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 119: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Works, London, 1675. $6,000 to $8,000.
    Swann, Apr. 11: Lot 45: Book of Hours in Latin, Use of Rome, illuminated with miniatures, Lyon, circa 1475-1500. $40,000 to $60,000.
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    Modern First Editions
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    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
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    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
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