Here's a title that will bring you back to the days of your youth: Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I saw There. As I recall, by the second night you couldn't have remembered what you saw there, but evidently author T.S. Arthur exercised greater self-control. It is a story of his trip to Cedarville, where a kindly old miller has opened up a new tavern, the "Sickle and Sheaf," which he runs with the assistance of his dutiful, responsible son. In ten days, their world is turned upside down by John Barleycorn and his friends. By the ninth day, the two are engaged in a drunken stupor over a bottle of liquor. The son bashes the bottle over his dad's head, killing the old man. And sadly, there are others in this little town who suffer similar depredations on account of these spirits. While there can be no happy ending to such a sad tale, at least the townspeople decide that no more liquor shall be sold in Cedarville, and the supply at the "Sickle and Sheaf" shall be destroyed. Today, few people remember T.S. Arthur, but he was a very popular author in his day, and a strong voice for the temperance movement. This book has been referred to as the "Uncle Tom's Cabin of temperance." And while his story is melodramatic and stretches credibility, it is powerful nonetheless and helped to mobilize the forces of temperance. This copy is a first edition, first state, from 1854. $950.
Louisa May Alcott based the character "Marmee" in Little Women on her own mother, Abba May Alcott. She obviously had deep love and respect for her mother, which was translated into this character. In her mother's later years, Louisa May took care of her. A stanza in her poem "Transfiguration" pays tribute to Mrs. Alcott: "Oh noble woman! Never more than a queen / Then in the laying down / Of scepter & crown / To win a greater kingdom yet unseen." A handwritten copy of these lines, complete with her autograph, "L. M. Alcott," is offered. $2,500.
The Brooklyn, New York, Fire Department was established in 1869. It started with 13 engines and a crew of most professional firemen (they were all men then). Around 1870, someone put together a poster containing twelve photographs of these firemen and the Brooklyn firehouse, engine number one parked outside. Today, the Brooklyn Fire Department has gone the way of the Brooklyn Dodgers. No, not to Los Angeles, but out of existence. It was merged into the New York City Fire Department in 1898, a successor fire company that became the most famous in the world for its bravery on a dark day a few years ago. The display of 13 photographs is priced at $4,800.
One of the more important collections of American poetry was published in 1845. This is a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and Other Poems. They were described by Poe as thirty of his best poems, but even his best didn't seem to impress Poe that much. "I think nothing in this volume of much value to the public, or very creditable to myself," he states in the preface. Whatevermore. $15,000.
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