Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2015 Issue

Diversity and the Unusual from W. C. Baker's First Catalogue

0724b86b-6098-4d1c-85e9-031b7521e4e5

Catalog One from W. C. Baker.

This month we review the first catalogue from W. C. Baker Rare Books and Ephemera. Last month we wrote about Will Baker's return to full-time bookselling from the Pittsburgh-Cleveland area (click here). This month we take a look at Baker's first catalogue, appropriately titled Catalog One. Baker describes it as "a selection of unusual printed and manuscript works relating to magic, medicine, museums, religion, science, the stage, and other diverse subjects." What we find is indeed a diverse selection of works, with many of them at least bordering on the unusual. Here are a few samples.

 

Thomas Paine was one of America's founders, his Common Sense being an inspiration for the revolution that set the nation free. And yet, by the end of his life, Paine was a pariah in the land he helped free, no one even willing to accept his body for burial. Such was the dark side of religion. The cause of Paine's fall was his unwillingness to accept revealed religion, the Bible, Christianity. Most considered Paine an atheist, though this was not accurate. He was more a Deist, a believer in one God who believed that God's nature could be understood through reason, not books or words uttered by man. By the middle of the 19th century, some were calling to rehabilitate Paine, considering him a good man, even if mistaken in some beliefs. Attempts at rehabilitation fell hand in hand with the spiritualist movement centered in mid-century Rochester, New York, in this book by Charles Hammond, a Universalist minister who became a spiritual medium: Light from the Spirit World. The Pilgrimage of Thomas Paine, and Others, to the Seventh Circle of the Spirit World, published in 1852. Hammond allegedly spoke with the deceased Paine and others, and listened in on their conversations. What we find is that Paine is now doing well in the after-world, despite his prior beliefs that many thought would condemn him to Hell. Sure, Paine made some mistakes on Earth – who hasn't? - but where he was mistaken, he acknowledges his errors, and all's well that ends well. This conclusion is certainly consistent with Hammond's Universalist faith, and hopefully all has ended well for this great American patriot, but one suspects Hammond's conversations with Paine were more in his imagination than in the world of spirits. Item 31. Priced at $300.

 

While Paine had few takers for his radical thoughts, the religion of America's Puritan founders had swung decidedly more liberal at the end of the 18th century, breaking off into Unitarian and Congregationalist wings. Even the more traditional Congregationalists had become too liberal for some, and a more orthodox wing at Harvard broke away to found Andover Seminary. Item 4 is an attack on this group in an 1826 broadside from Boston headed The Moloch of Orthodoxy. The "Moloch of Orthodoxy" is the the writer's description of the breakaway group's vision of God. The writer describes this orthodox God as "delighting in the eternal damnation of myriads of human beings and to glut his devilish appetite, has fore-ordained from all eternity, that a certain number of the human race shall writhe and gnash their teeth in eternal agonies, plunged in a burning pool of liquid fire; and not because they were more wicked than the rest of mankind, but because it is his SOVEREIGN WILL." $750.

 

This is all getting very heavy, so let's move to some lighter fare – Linus the Wonder Horse. Item 48 is a broadside promoting an exhibition of Linus, headed 15,000 People have seen Linus The Horse With the Long Mane and Tail! Long, indeed. The mane was 14 feet long with several feet dragging on the ground. It is a wonder the wonder horse wasn't constantly tripping over his mane. The hair on his tail extended 12 feet. Linus was supposedly descended from a breed known as the Oregon Long-Haired Wild Wonder Horses, though later historians believe they were the offspring of selective breeding, sort of like Clydesdales. Considering the showmanship of the day, one wonders whether Linus was faked, perhaps his mane filled with mane extensions, but it appears he was as hairy as represented. Perhaps the selective breeding had a downside, as it often does, as Linus died in 1894 at the age of just 10. There was a Linus II, but this broadside is for the original Linus, as it promoted an appearance in Maine in 1891 for the "Samson among Equines." You can find pictures of Linus and a few other Oregon Wonder Horses online, and if you want to remember the mane, you will have to view these pictures. Somehow in the ensuing years, the breed died out. $125.

 

I can believe that Oregon Long-Haired Wonder Horses existed, but am more dubious about the existence of the creature described in The Old Whig: or, the Consistent Protestant. Thursday, November 10, 1737. Some fishermen brought their net ashore, and when opened, "to their great Surprize, a Creature of human Shape, having two Legs, leaped out of the Net, and ran away with great Swiftness..." No wonder they were surprized. Unable to overtake the creature, they threw sticks at it. When they caught up, it groaned like a human, keeled over and died. It had webbed feet, facial features resembling a human, and a tail like a salmon along with its two feet. It was four feet tall. It was exhibited in Exeter and London, and reportedly Horace Walpole, son of the Prime Minister, viewed the creature. Item 59. $200.

 

Item 83 is "The Last Writing" of Marion Ira Stout; Containing His Confession... Stout left his last writing behind in his cell when he unsuccessfully attempted suicide a few days before his execution. Stout was convicted for the terribly botched murder of his brother-in-law, Charles Littles. Conspiring with his sister, Sarah, to lure Littles to a cliff, Stout hit his in-law in the head with a hammer and pushed him over the edge. The intention was that Littles would fall into a river below and be carried away. However, the body did not reach the river, so Stout proceeded down the sharp slope to complete the job. He fell to a ledge below, breaking his arm. It was the same ledge where Littles' body had fallen. Stout cried out to his sister, who came to rescue him, only falling to the same ledge herself, breaking her wrist. Still, they managed to push Littles' body off the ledge, only to have it come to rest on the river bank. Stout was quickly arrested, tried for murder, convicted, and sentenced to death. Still, despite his obvious guilt, Stout had some notable defenders. He otherwise seemed a nice enough guy, and many believed he was trying to save his sister from a drunken, philandering, abusive husband (others believed his motivation was incest). Among those to speak out for Stout were Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. It was to no avail, and in a horrible conclusion, the execution was as botched as the murder, the hangman's rope failing to break Stout's neck and leaving him struggling for 20 minutes before dying. Sarah got seven years in Sing Sing prison. $450.

 

W. C. Baker Rare Books and Ephemera may be reached at 203-752-7410 or will@wcbaker.com. Their website is www.wcbaker.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Manuel Orazi, <i>La Maison Moderne,</i> 1900. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Maxfield Parrish, <i>The Century, Midsummer Holiday Number,</i> 1897. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Medee, Sarah Bernhardt,</i> 1898. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> H.A. Volodimer, <i>Grand Prix d’Endurance de 24 Heures,</i> 1923. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Aldo Mazza, <i>Vini d’Italia,</i> circa 1920. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>l’Oie d’Or,</i> circa 1930. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> <i>James Bond Does It Everywhere in “Thunderball!”</i> designer unknown, 1965. $1,500 to $2,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Palace Hotel, St. Moritz,</i> 1920. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Joseph C. Leyendecker, <i>“Contour” Arrow Form-Fit Collars,</i> 1917. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 18:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Ski at Lake Placid,</i> 1938. $2,500 to $3,500.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>Jan. 30 & 31, 2021</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> Rare 1778 Engraved map of Colonial Philadelphia after George Heap (1714-1752) and Nicholas Scull (1687-1761). $10,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> Author signed and inscribed <i>THE FOUNTAINHEAD,</i> stated First Edition, by Ayn Rand, published by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, New York, 1943. $2,000 to $2,400.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> John James Audubon (American, 1785-1851) hand-colored aquatint engraving, "Yellow-billed Magpie, Stellers Jay, Ultramarine Jay and Clark's Crow," Plate Number CCCLXII. $1,800 to $2,200.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>Jan. 30 & 31, 2021</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) autograph letter, signed, as President, to Nathan Reid detailing Jackson’s intervention on behalf of Reid's grandson. $1,800 to $2,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> Edward Steichen (Luxembourg/American, 1879-1973) portfolio of photographs, "The Early Years 1900-1927, 12 Hand-Gravure Prints" #41/1000, printed in 1981. $1,400 to $1,600.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, TLS, one-page typed letter on The White House, Washington, D.C., stationary to John Marshall Butler. $1,400 to $1,600.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>Jan. 30 & 31, 2021</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> Two Pre-Civil War slave related letters, including one written by Mariah, a female domestic slave of James Vincent Musgrove (1814-1890) to her daughter. $1,000 to $1,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> Two author signed and inscribed Ayn Rand related books, including one Rand signed <i>WE THE LIVING,</i> London 1940 edition. $1,000 to $1,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> PLAN DE LA VILLE DE MEMPHIS (ETATS-UNIS) 40,000 HABITANTS pen and ink with watercolor hand drawn drainage system map, circa 1870. $700 to $900.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>Jan. 30 & 31, 2021</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> Scarce Mezzotint portrait of Thomas Pownall, Colonial Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (1757-1760) and South Carolina (1760). $600 to $700.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> VIEW OF NORFOLK FROM COSPORT, VIRGINIA, John Hill, engraver, after John Shaw (U.K., 1776-1832). $600 to $700.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 30-31:</b> THE BURNING OF THE MERCHANT'S EXCHANGE, NEW YORK CITY -THE GREAT FIRE OF DECEMBER, 1835. Scarce color lithograph, a 1909 reissue of the original 1836 print. $500 to $700.
  • <b><center>Christie’s<br>Paul Destribats:<br>Une Bibliothèque des Avant-gardes<br>Part III<br>2-3 and 4 February 2021</b>
    <b><center>Christie’s<br>Paul Destribats:<br>Une Bibliothèque des Avant-gardes<br>Part III<br>2-3 and 4 February 2021</b>
    <b><center>Christie’s<br>Paul Destribats:<br>Une Bibliothèque des Avant-gardes<br>Part III<br>2-3 and 4 February 2021</b>
    <b><center>Christie’s<br>Paul Destribats:<br>Une Bibliothèque des Avant-gardes<br>Part III<br>2-3 and 4 February 2021</b>
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>28 January 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Schedel (Hartmann). <i>Liber Chronicarum,</i> first edition, Nuremberg, Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 1493. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> [Greek Orthodox Church].- <i>Menaion,</i> manuscript in Greek, on paper, in Greek letters, [Eastern Mediterranean], [c. 1400]. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> American Revolution.- Loyalist's cow powder horn, engraved with the cypher "GR" for George III surmounted by a crown, an inscription, and on reverse an engraving of the "North River" [Hudson River], 1777. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>28 January 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Illuminated prayer book.- <i>Maria Carcer y Trigueros... Santa Misa y Oraciones,</i> illuminated manuscript in Spanish, on paper, [c. 1850]. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Hardy (Thomas). <i>The Mayor of Casterbridge,</i> 2 vol., first edition in book form, original cloth, 1886. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> [Austen (Jane)]. <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> first edition, Printed for John Murray, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>28 January 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Brontë (Charlotte). <i>Jane Eyre. An Autobiography,</i> 3 vol., first edition, Smith, Elder and Co., 1847. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Cruikshank (George). <i>The Road to the Derby,</i> one of two proof copies, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1882. £600 to £800.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Meunier (Charles, binder).- Gruel (Leon). <i>Manuel Historique et Bibliographique de l'Amateur de Reliures,</i> 2 vol., Paris, 1887.-1905. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>28 January 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Burne-Jones (Sir Edward). <i>The Work of Edward Burne-Jones,</i> edited by Philip Burne-Jones, one of 200 copies, [c.1900]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Nazraeli Press.- <i>Six by Six,</i> 36 vol. [a complete set], one of 100 sets, each with signed photograph, Portland, Or., 2010-16. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Australasia.- Péron (Francois) and Freycinet. <i>Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes,</i> 5 vol. including Atlas, second edition, Paris, 1824. £6,000 to £8,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions