Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2013 Issue

Recent Acquisitions in Americana from the William Reese Company

Recent Acquisitions in Americana.

The William Reese Company has issued a catalogue of Recent Acquisitions in Americana, with an extended title of with Material from Newly Acquired Collections on American Presidents, Early American Religion & American Artists. While they regularly offer catalogues on other subjects as well, the Reese Company has been one of the foremost dealers in printed Americana for at least three decades. Their catalogues provide a variety of material in the field, ranging from some of the most important items to come to market, to others in the mid-priced range. This latest group of acquisitions fills this niche, running from signed battlefield letters from George Washington, to letters home by an ordinary Civil War soldier. Here are a few of these new items.

It took a Steven Spielberg movie to bring this ancient case back to public attention, but it is a remarkable story in American history. Item 12 is John Barber's A History of the Amistad Captives: Being a Circumstantial Account of the Capture of the Spanish Schooner Amistad, by the Africans on Board... Most everyone knows this story now, how the slaves on the Amistad were captured from Africa, taken to Cuba, and then on to be smuggled into the South. Slavery was still legal at this time (1840), though the capturing of African natives for slavery was now illegal in America. The slaves rebelled, overtook the ship, and attempted to flee. Lacking navigational skills, they ended up off of Long Island, where they were taken to Connecticut and held for trial. The Africans were acquitted. Barber has presented a history of the events and biographies of the men involved. However, this book was not the final say, as the U.S. government appealed the verdict freeing the enslaved Africans to the Supreme Court after this account was completed. Their freedom was later upheld with the aid of representation by former President John Quincy Adams. Priced at $3,000.

One would expect to find opponents of slavery in the North, but in the South? Not vocal ones, anyway. Item 49 is something of a surprise – Poor Peter's Call to His Children and to All Others Who Can Hear and Believe. This work, published from Salisbury, North Carolina, was written by Peter Clemmons, founder of the town of Clemmons in that state. Clemmons had once been a slaveholder, but freed his slaves when he saw the light. He argues against those who live off the labor of black people, and describes those who buy and sell slaves as similar to those who traffic in stolen goods. At his most vehement, Clemmons says, “...many of these proud delicate beings [slaveholders], will go to the bed of the despised negroes, both male and female, and commit adultery, whoredom, and mingle their seed with those they will not suffer to set down at their tables and eat bread with them.” Not gentle words, though accurate. It is amazing that Clemmons could get away with this in the South, but the year was 1812, and the really hardening of positions would come a couple of decades later, when it is unlikely he could have survived saying such things. $4,000.

Not all Northerners were enlightened on the issue of slavery. Samuel F.B. Morse was a noted American inventor, the man who invented the telegraph and the Morse Code. His invention allowed for the instantaneous communication of information over vast distances, moving at the speed of light, rather than the speed of horses. However, Morse's social views were as abhorrent as his scientific ones advanced. He was an adamant supporter of slavery, even during the Civil War, claiming it to be a wise, preordained system with no moral shortcomings. However, if there is someone Morse would have detested more than a black person, then it would have been a black Catholic, or worse yet, a black Catholic Irishman. Morse ran for Mayor of New York in 1835, the year before he developed his telegraph, on an extreme nativist platform. He garnered only a handful of votes. That same year he published this book: Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States. In it he claimed, “That a vigorous and unexampled effort is making by the despotic governments of Europe to cause Popery to overspread this country, is a fact too palpable to be contradicted.” Item 138. $3,000.

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
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    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
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    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
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    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
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    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.

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