Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2014 Issue

A 25th Anniversary for David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books

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David Lesser celebrates 25 years in the book trade.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has reached a milestone - the bookseller's 25th anniversary in the business. The event is celebrated with the firm's catalogue No. 135 Rare Americana, almost one every two months on average for 25 years. Lesser never wants for material, and it is a most interesting collection for those fascinated by early American history. It includes books, but mostly shorter form pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, and such. The immediacy of the issues of the day is seen in these quickly published items, a window on events from before the Revolution to the decades just after the Civil War. Here are some samples.

 

In hindsight, this appears much ado about nothing, but at the time it was not, and author Charles Brockden Brown could not have foreseen what would soon happen. Item 16 is Brown's An Address to the Government of the United States, on the Cession of Louisiana to the French... published in 1803. Napoleon had forced the Spanish to agree to cede the Louisiana Territory to them in 1800. This caused much concern in America, not only for Brown, but for President Jefferson and many others as well. Spain was weak, but France was strong, and a powerful European power returning to a major presence in America was deeply troubling. Jefferson sent diplomats to France to discuss the purchase of New Orleans. It was not so much the vast territory of Louisiana that concerned Jefferson as France's ability to block an increasing volume of American shipments from its western territories through the port of New Orleans. Brown went even further, urging the U.S. to seize New Orleans from the French. “France is to be dreaded only or chiefly on the Mississippi,” he writes. “The deadliest of blows from that nation must come from that quarter. To prevent their entrance, therefore, is the most urgent measure of defence... The government must not hesitate.” From hindsight, we now know that Napoleon had become focused on battling England and taking control of Europe, not America. He not only was willing to sell New Orleans, but offered the entire Louisiana Territory to America for a cheap price. Priced at $500.

 

It is doubtful that printed sermons would have a great readership today, but they must have been popular in America a couple of hundred years ago as so many were published. Item 8 is A Sermon Preached September 29th 1771. By John Bacon... He had just been installed as a pastor at the South Church in Boston, and he gave the parishioners a good reason to love God. He explains, “The sum of the law is, to love God with all the heart, and that on the penalty of damnation.” $175.

 

Charles Sumner was an ardent and important abolitionist, a senator from Massachusetts who once was beaten on the floor of the senate to within an inch of his life as a result of a speech attacking the slave practices of South Carolina. It took three years before he was able to return to the senate. He returned as he left, a vocal abolitionist and later Radical Republican during Reconstruction. Where did he get such strong views? Those who follow Sumner's career will be interested in this item: The Compass: A Poetical Performance at the Literary Exhibition in September, [1795], at Harvard University. Charles Sumner had not even been born in 1795, nor would he be for another 16 years. However, the poet-speaker was Charles P. Sumner, the illustrious senator's father. His father hated slavery too, even back in this era when few objections were being raised. “No sanction'd slavery AFRIC's sons degrade, / But equal rights shall equal earth pervade,” he writes. Like father, like son. Item 129. $600.

 

Poor Maggie Keppel became a case study for Landon Carter Gray, though it is hard to fathom why he was quite so fascinated by her. Item 57 is Dr. Gray's The Case of Maggie Keppel, The Brooklyn Child-Abductor. Read Before the New York Society of Medical Jurisprudence, January 11, 1883. Gray first became interested in her case when Ms. Keppel was serving a jail sentence for “the heinous crime of stealing a small towel in the house wherein she was boarding.” I'm not sure anyone would classify that as a “heinous” crime except, perhaps, those who operate hotels. Dr. Gray concluded that Ms. Keppel was insane, and when she was released, she promised to come to the good doctor for treatment, but only came twice. Lo and behold, his next encounter with Maggie came when “the whole world was startled by the story of the abduction of a child that had been playing in front of its parents' house.” Alas, the abductor “turned out to be my quondam patient of towel-stealing fame, the unfortunate Maggie Keppel.” Aside - “quondam” means former. Maggie explained that she found the child crying in the street and merely sought to bring her home. Dr. Gray wasn't buying her explanation, describing “the dangerous tendencies of such a lunatic as Maggie Keppel, who in another phase of her malady, might have murdered the child as readily as she had stolen it.” However, the jury believed Maggie, not Dr. Gray, and acquitted her. $500.

 

Item 7 is the Life and Adventures of Jeff. Davis. By McArone, published in 1865. “McArone” was George Arnold, who died the same year at the age of 31. Arnold was a humorist who wrote for numerous magazines. This publication includes accounts of Davis' life and comic illustrations as one might expect to be targeted at a defeated foe. Arnold calls Davis' birth “a misfortune alike for him and for society at large.” He describes one of Davis' skills as “negro raising,” and naturally enough, makes illustrated fun of claims that Davis was captured wearing women's clothing. $875.

 

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.com. Their website is www.lesserbooks.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Travel, Atlases, Maps<br>and Natural History<br>Online Auction<br>27 April – 13 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b><br>Daniel Giraud Elliot. <i>A Monograph of the Phasianidae, or Family of the Pheasants,</i> 1870-1872, coloured plates. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b><br>Georg Braun und Franz Hogenberg. <i>Civitates orbis terrarum.</i> Cologne, 1597-c.1606, 5 volumes, hand-coloured, calf. £140,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b> Qianren Huang. "Blue Map" of China. [Daoguang, 19th century]. £60,000 to £80,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Travel, Atlases, Maps<br>and Natural History<br>Online Auction<br>27 April – 13 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b> Abraham Ortelius. <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum,</i> 1595. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b> Maxime Du Camp. <i>Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie. Dessins Photographiques.</i> Paris, 1852. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b><br>China, Canton School. A superb album of 141 watercolours, c.1800. £70,000 to £100,000.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> CURRIER and IVES, publishers -- After Frances F. Palmer. The Rocky Mountains. Emigrants Crossing the Plains, 1866. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BIBLE, in English]. <i>The New Testament of Jesus Christ, translated faithfully into English.</i> Rheims, 1582. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BIBLE, in Latin]. <i>Biblia latina.</i> Venice: Franz Renner of Hailbrun [Heilbrunn], 1483. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822). Autograph letter signed ("P. B. S."), to Charles Ollier. Florence, Italy, 15 December 1819. “MY PROMETHEUS IS THE BEST THING I EVER WROTE.” $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> RAMSAY, David (1749-1815). <i>The History of the Revolution of South-Carolina…</i> Trenton: Isaac Collins, 1785. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BINDINGS]. MUIR, John (1838-1914). <i>The Writings of John Muir.</i> Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916-1924. 10 vols. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [CHICAGO] -- <i>Park & Guide Map of Chicago.</i> Chicago: Jas. Van Vechten, 1873. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> CURRIER and IVES, publishers -- After Frances F. Palmer. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [ALLEN PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). <i>Romeo and Juliet.</i> Greenbrae: Allen Press, 1988. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> BEMELMANS, Ludwig (1898-1962). Pencil drawing on paper. 247 x 198 mm, sight, matted and framed. Showing a child shooting at a baby's balloon. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [LOGAN ELM PRESS]. HARVEY, Rebecca. <i>Any Number of Things.</i> Ohio State University, 2013. Single sheet paper scroll. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> BINYON, Laurence (1869-1943). A small archive of letters and pamphlets. $200 to $300.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Westvaco–Inspirations for Printers,</i> 3 volumes, 1938-61. $200 to $300.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Proef van Letteren, <i>Welk gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche Lettergietery,</i> 1768. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Paul Klee, <i>Bauhaus Ausstellung Juli – Sept.,</i> Weimar, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Michel Seuphor & Jozef Peeters, <i>Het Overzicht Nos.</i> 22-23-24, Antwerp, 1922. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Wolfrum & Co., <i>Modern Graphik, Serie I…,</i> complete portfolio, 1909. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Gravure et Fonderie deC. Derriey: Specimen-Album,</i> Paris, 1862. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Mariette (Pierre-Jean). <i>Traité des pierres gravées / Recueil des pierres gravées...,</i> 2 vols., 1750. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> [Bryant, Jacob & William Cole]. <i>Gemmarum Antiquarum Delectus, [Marlborough Gems],</i> 2 volumes, [privately printed, 1780-83], £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Caylus (Anne Claude Philippe, Comte de). <i>Recueil d'Antiquités Egyptiennes, Estrusques, Grecques et Romaines,</i> 7 volumes, Paris, 1756-67, £700 to £1,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Devonshire Gems. <i>Duke of Devonshire's Collection of Gems,</i> privately printed, c. 1790, [one of 8 copies], £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Goltz (Hubert). <i>Le Vive Imagini di tutti quasi gl'Imperatori,</i> Antwerp, 1557, £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Manuscript. <i>An Explanation of Dassier's Medals, by Charlotte Hanbury,</i> c. 1795-1800, £700 to £1,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Paoletti (Bartolomeo and Pietro). A collection of 300 plaster cameos presented in 7 leather-bound double-sided faux book boxes, Rome, c. 1820, £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Mayer (Luigi). <i>Views in Egypt, from the Original Drawings, in the Possession of Sir Robert Ainslie,</i> London: Thomas Bensley for R. Bowyer, 1805, £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Blaeu (Willem Janszoon & Johannes). <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive Atlas novus, pars quarta</i> [England and Wales], Amsterdam: Johannem Blaeu, 1648, £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>12/13 May<br>Printed Books, Maps & Prints, Numismatic Books from the Milne-Henderson Collection</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Reuter (O.M. & Mela, A.J.). <i>Finlands Fiskar. The Fishes of Finland,</i> 12 parts (complete), Helsingfors: G.W. Edlund, 1883-93, £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> Lunardi (Vincenzo). <i>An Account of the First Aerial Voyage in England,</i> 2nd edition, London: Printed for the Author, 1784, £700 to £1,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, 12/13 May:</b> North America. Jansson (Jan). <i>Virginiae partis Australis et Floridae partis Orientalis,</i> circa 1641. £400 to £600.

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