Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2005 Issue

Old English Books and Manuscripts From Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

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Pre-1800 English Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books has arrived, English Books and Manuscripts to 1800. This is a diverse collection of primarily 17th and 18th century books covering a wide range of topics: politics, science, medicine, piracy, travel, executions, witchcraft and whatever else interested people in long ago times. These are works which make for some fascinating reading as well as antiquarian collecting. Here are a few samples.

Many people associate witchcraft trials with America as a result of some terrible events in Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 17th century. However, it was activities in and writings from Europe that inspired this piece of insanity. Item 47 is a compilation published in 1693 attributed to the late British Judge Sir Matthew Hale and Edward Stephens entitled, A collection of modern relations of matter of fact, concerning witches & witchcraft upon the persons of people. Hale had presided over a witchcraft trial in 1662 and found it hard to believe that three children from different families could possibly have colluded to accuse two innocent old women of witchcraft. The result was they were convicted and Judge Hale sentenced them to their executions. Other sections include a translation of an account from France where 32 teenage girls in a home for poor children were discovered to be witches, and a 1644 case from Yarmouth where 16 others "confessed" to being witches and were, naturally, executed. Item 47. Priced at £850 (British pounds, US dollar equivalent of $1,525).

By the beginning of the 18th century, the tide had turned against those who used accusations of witchcraft to attack others. Item 48 is, The tryal of Richard Hathaway, upon an information for being a cheat and imposter, for endeavoring to take away the life of Sarah Morduck, for being a witch... Hathaway claimed all sorts of ailments caused by the spells cast by Mrs. Morduck. He had become blind and mute as a result of these spells, but was relieved of these symptoms when he scratched his alleged tormenter. When a new spell returned these symptoms, an inquiring clergyman tried an experiment, having a woman supposed to be Mrs. Morduck reach an arm through a curtain for Hathaway to scratch. He did, and was "cured," but the arm was not that of Mrs. Morduck. The trap did not matter for believers, who concluded the witch had played a trick. Besides which, there were other symptoms. When given water, Hathaway would vomit pins. It was noted that the vomited pins managed to stay dry, and Hathaway carried pins in his pockets, but believers saw no contradictions. He also was unable to eat, although peepholes drilled into his room revealed him feasting when no one was looking. Nonetheless, Mrs. Morduck was put on trial, and though acquitted, many believed the court had been bribed to find her not guilty. However, with the tide turning, Hathaway himself was put on trial a year later, convicted, and sentenced to six months in prison and a good flogging. He was lucky. If Mrs. Morduck had been convicted, she would have been executed. £650 (US $1,166).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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