Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2005 Issue

Early Political, Religious, and Other Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

R0415

Catalogue 84 of Americana from David M. Lesser


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books
latest catalogue, number 84, fits the mold of the typical Lesser catalogue. It is filled with rare books and ephemera of Americana, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries, and each piece comes with its own story. Reading through a Lesser catalogue is reading through a series of vignettes of American history. By the time you are finished, you will know a bit more about the nation's past, and in particular, many of the small incidents that led to the major confrontations which shaped its history. Lesser's catalogues are not just book catalogues, but mini-history texts as well. Some of what we found follows.

Item 3 is more than a bit ironic as it is an Extract of a Letter from the House of Representatives of the Masschusetts-Bay proclaiming their loyalty to the British crown, even as it protests mistreatment in the days before the Revolution. The year was 1770, and the colony was upset with taxes, restrictions on imports, and heavy-handed British control of their institutions. Nevertheless, the representatives proclaim, "we cannot be justly suspected of the most distant thoughts of an independence on Great-Britain." For emphasis, they go on to say "it is so far from the truth, that we apprehend the colonies would refuse it [independence] if offered them; and would deem it the greatest misfortune to be obliged to accept it." Methinks they protested too much. They would have jumped on such an offer, but one was never made. Priced at $1,500.

Here is a different take on the British taxes that were a primary cause of the American Revolution. Rev. John Fletcher makes his arguments in American Patriotism Farther Confronted with Reason, Scripture, and the Constitution...with a Scriptural Plea for the Revolted Colonies. In this 1776 book, Rev. Fletcher defends the right of the British to tax the colonists. However, he goes a bit farther than most by claiming that paying British taxes is some sort of religious obligation. "The duty of paying taxes to the protective power, is so strongly connected with Christianity, that the Colonists must practically give up the scriptures, or submit to the reasonable demands of the British legislature," claims Fletcher. No wonder the founding fathers decided to separate church from state. Item 58. $1,500.

One of the uglier political papers of early America was James Callender's The American Annual Register...for the Year 1796, published early the following year. Callender was a shrill opponent of the Federalists, not above making use of scandal to achieve his goals. In this publication, he raises charges of financial dishonesty on the part of Alexander Hamilton relating to payments he made to James Reynolds. This forced Hamilton to reveal the truth - that he was paying Reynolds blackmail to keep quiet about the affair he, Hamilton, was having with Reynolds wife Maria. Item 21. $875.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions