Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2005 Issue
American Miscellany from J & J Hanrahan
By Michael Stillman
This month we review our first catalogue from J & J Hanrahan. The Hanrahans are located in Wells, Maine, along the Atlantic coast and just down the road from the Bush family compound. Not the ranch, the summer home. It is the epitome of old New England, and so are many of the books they offer. Now, you will find much more in their catalogue, even some Texas material, but their "List 57" does contain many items pertaining to Maine and Northern New England. Some of what we found follows.
Do you have trouble understanding women? Here's the solution: The History of Women, from the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time; Giving Some Account of almost every interesting Particular concerning that Sex, among all Nations ancient and modern. Since everything ever known about women was covered, a second volume was required. However, the author not being a member of "that sex," he might have missed a thing or two. Still we must give Dr. William Alexander credit for trying. Since this was published in 1782, it may be time for an update. Item 1. Priced at $450.
Francis Underhill wrote a book helpful for those of means, Driving for Pleasure Or, The Harness Stable and its Appointments. This book included illustrations of horses and carriages suitable for a pleasure drive. But, his timing was terrible. Look at the publication date: 1897. This book couldn't have had a very long shelf life. Something was about to happen to make it obsolete in a very short time. Item 82. $475.
William Haskett provided an expose of the Shakers in 1828 titled Shakerism Unmasked, or the History of the Shakers... Haskett knew the Shakers as he had formerly been a member. The Shakers developed a series of communities, primary in New England and the Northeast, during the 19th century. They practiced an austere lifestyle, lots of work, not much fun, and, of course, celibacy. Not surprisingly, none of these were helpful for long-term survival of the community. Today, the Shakers have virtually disappeared, but they left us a legacy of uncomfortable furniture with which to remember them. Item 291. $550.