Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2013 Issue

The American Revolution in Manuscript from Joe Rubinfine

Rubinfine173

Manuscripts from the American Revolution.

Joe Rubinfine has published a catalogue entitled The American Revolution in Manuscript. While the Revolution was much more than a war of words, it was through handwritten words that the news of events was relayed. This collection is filled with accounts as they happened, mostly from officers who participated in its battles, or political leaders who planned strategy. They range from the lesser known officers whose roles were nonetheless important to the cause's success, to the highest ranking of leaders, George Washington himself. This was a time of great sacrifice, but ultimately great triumph. Here is a look back at those days in the words of the participants.

Item 23 is a document signed by British General James Grant, dated December 13, 1776. It proclaims, “I do Certifie that the Bearer John Carter has taken the oath agreeable to the Proclamation of 30th Novr. 1776.” That proclamation was Sir William Howe's offer of amnesty and pardon to everyone who swore allegiance to the King. This offer was part of England's attempt to pacify New Jersey. These documents are scarce, and Rubinfine has a likely explanation. Once the tide of the war turned the other way, it is unlikely that many of those who signed up would have wanted to possess these things any longer. They probably quietly found their way to the fireplace. Priced at $2,500.

Speaking of switching sides, no one is more the epitome of a side-switching double crosser than Benedict Arnold. A prickly, vain, and greedy man, he was nonetheless brave in combat and a successful leader for the patriots in the early years of the Revolution. His personality turned many of his fellow leaders against him even before he became a turncoat, but his success in the field retained one strong advocate in his corner – George Washington. It helped him survive long enough to be caught in the act. Item 1 is a muster roll for the First Pennsylvania Regiment dated December 9, 1778. It is signed by Arnold and several other officers, including Col. Lewis Nicola. Nicola is the officer who wrote Washington suggesting he become King of America, to which the General replied in a most emphatic negative. Washington had appointed Arnold as commander of Philadelphia earlier that year, and Arnold had begun using his position to advance his financial self-interest. This would in turn lead to conflicts with others, more resentment from the ever-resentful Arnold, and his selling out his country. At the time of this letter, it is likely that Arnold had begun to consider his options as he was already lamenting the condition of the country, as well as his own, though it is unlikely he would have taken any action yet or fully made up his mind. $17,500.

By the time of this letter, June 8, 1780, Arnold was already deep into spying. He was still in Philadelphia, angrier than ever. He had been court-martialed for financial actions, though his treason was still unknown. He was now under consideration for command at West Point, which would come in less than two months, and he was about to travel to Connecticut to sell his home, a means of converting assets to cash he could then send to England. This letter is to Philadelphia printer David Claypoole, and it is filled with treasonous irony. Arnold tells Claypoole he will receive some proofs from General Washington, which he should seal up as soon as printed, “& use every precaution to prevent their being made Public...” Arnold should have taken such precautions himself. What was being printed was a notice to French Canadians to be prepared for a French-American invasion of Canada. While pretending to preserve their secrecy, Arnold had already informed the British in New York of the planned attack. What not even Arnold realized was that this “attack” was just a ruse meant to divert British resources away from the real action. Item 2. $22,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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