Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2012 Issue

Rare Latin Americana from the William Reese Company

Reese296

Rare Latin Americana.

The 296th catalogue from the William Reese Company features Rare Latin Americana. It ranges from the early days of European contact to the end of the 19th century. Through the first three centuries of this period, most of this land was under Spanish control. Then, Spain had some problems with Napoleon and their grip on the far-flung empire began to loosen. Soon enough, the nations of South and Central America would be independent, though challenges would remain, as they do even now. Here are some of the items, many newly acquired, in this latest Reese catalogue.

Item 18 is one of the “foundation works” on the New World, La Historia del Mundo Nuovo... by Girolamo Benzoni. Published in 1565, it is the first work based on personal observation of the New World by a non-Spaniard. Not much is known about Benzoni. He came from Milan and spent 14 years in Spanish America. Why he chose to go there or what he did is unclear, though he clearly was involved in mercantile activities. The Spanish, who didn't much appreciate foreigners in their midst, probably made it hard for Benzoni to conduct business, and it led to his strong dislike for them. His work is highly critical of the Spanish, and if some of it may have been motivated by revenge, his criticism was well-founded. He denounces their brutal treatment of the Indians and the importation of African slaves. He provides much information about the natives at a time before they were totally changed by European influences. He also provides early accounts of native plants, including the use of tobacco, chocolate, and banana trees. Priced at $28,000.

Melchor Calderon provides a discussion of slavery of native Indians, its pros and cons, in his book Tratado de la importancia y utilidad que ay en dar por esclavos a los indios rebelados de Chile. Today, we wouldn't have much trouble identifying the winner of this debate, but this tract was written around 1601. It was addressed by Calderon to the Viceroy of Peru. On the pro side, he says that traditionally military victors are compensated by the the award of slaves, and some of these Indians were particularly violent. On the other side, he notes that it is hard to distinguish which Indians were fighting the Spanish and which were not, and that many have displayed their obedience to church and crown. Item 31. $22,500.

It would take 300 years, but early in the 19th century, events rapidly began to cause the Spanish rule of America to crumble. The primary cause was a Frenchman named Napoleon. In 1808, he invaded Spain and took control of the government. It left a power vacuum in America, which, as we know from the Louisiana Purchase, was not Napoleon's prime concern. In 1810, a revolution took place in Caracas, and the French/Spanish viceroy was overthrown. Item 174 is a broadside proclamation by Francisco Rivas y Galindo from April 20, 1810. He announces the revolution and calls on the other provinces of Venezuela to join them. Interestingly, these early days weren't quite so independence-minded as one might think. The call for revolution was made in the name of the exiled Spanish Cortes and the captive king Ferdinand VII as the legitimate ruler of Spain (Napoleon had placed his brother Joseph in charge of Spain). However, it would not be long before many of the revolutionaries would seek total independence, and even after Spain was freed of Napoleon, it never regained full control over Latin America. Independence would come throughout the land by the 1820s. $20,000.

Item 21 is a broadside of Simon Bolivar's resignation as President of Gran Columbia, the predecessor of what is today Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, and part of Peru. It is dated February 6, 1827, and is headed El Presidente de la Honorable Camara del Seando. There was much in the way of instability in the government at the time, and to relieve these pressures, Bolivar offered to resign. Bolivar notes that there are suspicions that he plans to become a dictator, so to alleviate these concerns, he, like George Washington, will voluntarily leave office. The Congress declined to accept Bolivar's resignation, and Bolivar would later proclaim himself dictator for life, though this would be from beneficent motives, not a lust for power, as we shall see with the next item. $17,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <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.

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