Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2005 Issue

Murderesses and More: <br>Rare Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

R253

David Lesser's Catalogue 83 of Rare Americana


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books
has issued its 83rd catalogue of Rare Americana. Lesser's catalogues are like a collection of snapshots of America in its earliest years. There are a few exceptions, but most items come from America during the period of the 1760s through 1860s. These are not the most famous of documents, such as the Declaration of Independence. Rather, what we see are pictures of life as typical people experienced it. We hear personal quarrels, sermons from preachers and educators, oratory from politicians, debates over slavery and other issues of the day, and lurid stories of crime. Not every speech of the day was a Gettysburg Address or Washington's Farewell. In fact, few were. Here is what people were really reading in America's first century.

Lucretia Cannon was not exactly a gentlewoman. Indeed, "Patty" Cannon was as notorious as they come. She appeared in the area along the Delaware-Maryland border, probably coming from Canada, around 1810. Already a woman of ill-repute, she disposed of her husband the old-fashioned way, perhaps the first of many men to meet their final rewards with Patty's assistance. She set up a tavern in Johnson's Corners (now Reliance, Delaware) and formed a gang of loyal and ruthless followers. Apparently, Patty was a tough, large, physically strong woman who could terrorize any man around. She made her tavern a welcoming spot for traveling slave dealers, a group generally not that popular at northern establishments. Her gang would pray on the weaker ones, relieving them of their money. Lest you think this was some sort of protest against the slave trade by Patty, she soon expanded into the business of capturing free Blacks and selling them into slavery in the South. She frequently had these new slaves shackled in the attic of her boarding house and tavern. Her luck ran out in 1829 when she was arrested for four murders, although she was suspected of over twenty. While awaiting trial in jail, she poisoned herself, making use of the one foolproof method of avoiding execution. The book is Narrative and Confessions of Lucretia P. Cannon, who was Tried, Convicted, and sentenced to be Hung at Georgetown, Delaware, with Two of her Accomplices. Containing an Account of some of the Most Horrible and Shocking Murders and Daring Robberies Ever Committed by One of the Female Sex. It was published in New York in 1841. Pictures show her gang shooting at slave dealers, and Patty burning a black child in the fireplace. Item 21. Priced at $1,250. For those of you who would like to meet Mrs. Cannon, she may be visited at the Dover Public Library in Dover, Delaware. Her skull is kept in a hatbox in the library's staff area, but their website says they "will be glad to show it to anyone who would like to see it." Visiting hours coincide with the library's regular hours.

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.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions