Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2017 Issue

Rare Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

57b6a65d-333f-4063-a347-94d4f328ff42

Rare Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their latest catalogue. The title is Rare Americana. A Catalogue of Significant and Unusual Imprints Relating to America. Actually, that's the title of every Lesser catalogue. Fortunately it also has a number, Catalogue 154, to distinguish one from another. But, David Lesser is a specialist in rare Americana, usually pamphlets, broadsides, and manuscripts, with a few full-size books in the mix. No wonder the same title makes sense for each issue. However, the material inside always changes. Here are a few selections from this latest collection.

 

We start with a significant piece for any collection focused on women's rights. Item 76 is Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel, by Rev. Luther Lee. It is not so much Lee or his speech that is notable, but the circumstances. It was preached on September 15, 1853, and the occasion was the first ordination of a woman minister in any mainstream American church. The ordination was that of Rev. Antoinette L. Brown, who would lead the Congregational Church in South Butler, New York. Not terribly surprising, Miss Brown was a strong advocate of women's rights, along with abolition, temperance, and such. She was allowed to receive an education in theology at Oberlin College, though they would not give her an official degree qualifying her for the ministry. She would begin speaking for women's rights and in 1850, attended the first National Women's Rights Convention, along with her future sister-in-law, the better known Lucy Stone. However, she dropped her speaking tours when given the chance, with the assistance of Rev. Lee, to become an ordained minister. Unfortunately, it was difficult for a woman to make much of a go of it in the ministerial profession in 1853, so within a few years, she was back to preaching women's rights instead, got married and had seven children, and later turned to writing rather than speaking. Her views weren't entirely aligned with the suffrage movement, explaining why she is not as well known, though she continued to devote much of her time to advocacy of the cause. Antoinette Brown Blackwell (her married name) lived to see the passage of the voting rights amendment in 1920. She was 95 years old and the only participant in the 1850 convention to live to see that accomplishment. Priced at $1,250.

 

Item 2 is a long and remarkable letter from Georgia Congressman Warren Akin from July 2, 1864, to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Union General Sherman's March to the Sea was still a couple of months off, but Akin could see it coming. He also could foresee the result, and it was a dark picture for the Confederacy. He warns Davis that Gen. Joseph Johnston has virtually no chance of repelling Sherman, that the latter will roll into Atlanta, and despite the Confederacy's best attempts to defend the city, it will inevitably fall. He also warns that if this happens, the public will blame Davis, not Johnston, because the people will realize his position was hopeless, that Davis did not give him sufficient support. The part about no one blaming Johnston was not entirely true, but the rest was. Akin did have a plan to avoid this otherwise inevitable fate. That was to transfer troops from elsewhere to assist in Atlanta's defense. He suggests moving troops from Mississippi, saying it would be better to let Mississippi fall than Atlanta. Perhaps his being from Georgia colored Akin's opinion on what to defend. Akin concludes with a bit of a psychological ploy. He tells Davis people believe he has it in for Gen. Johnston, and that his failure to support Johnston would be interpreted as motivated by Davis' wishing to deny Johnston a victory, even at the Confederacy's expense. Ouch. $2,500.

 

Samuel Stanhope Smith was an accomplished and interesting man, a Presbyterian minister, college professor, later President of Princeton University. He combined both traditional and more enlightened ideas. In 1787, he published this book, Essay on the Causes of Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species. It is focused on the African race, primarily slaves in America, but in it you can almost see some precursors to Darwin. Smith saw differences in pigmentation among field slaves and domestic ones as part of progressive minor changes within beings, a form of evolution. However, rather than seeing it as a result of natural selection, he thought it was the result of an interaction with their environment. And in this case it probably was, either domestics being out in the sun less, or greater forced interaction of indoor slave women and their masters resulting in lighter skinned children. Item 117. $1,500.

 

One might say Abraham Lincoln talked his way into the presidency. He was an eloquent speaker, whose fame quickly spread after the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Two years later, he was elected president. Item 80 is a Speech of Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Delivered in Springfield, Saturday Evening, July 17, 1858. That was about a month before the first of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. In this, Lincoln repeated his recent "House Divided" warning, that the nation would one day be either all free or all slave, but could not forever be half and half. He urged stopping its spread to new states, putting it on a course toward its ultimate extinction. Douglas, a proponent of letting each state decide for itself, was clearly a target of this claim. Lincoln also stated that while blacks are not equal to whites "in all respects," the principles of the Declaration of Independence do declare that they have equal rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and "the right to put into his mouth the bread that his own hands have earned." This copy was signed by Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, Lincoln's last surviving direct descendant. Beckwith, Lincoln's great-grandson, died in 1985. $4,000.

 

Here is a bizarre broadside from Southington, Connecticut, from 1834. It is headed, Awful Tribunal. Never Before Has It Fallen to Our Lot to Picture to Our Fellow-Men the Decisions of His Satanic Majesty... The author is identified as "Young Nick," and the action takes place in the High Court of Vengeance, presided over by His Satanic Majesty. The participants include Sweet Romeo, Great High Priest, Little Wheel George, and Big Bug Merchant. The court is held in the basement of the Southington Presbyterian Church. Little Wheel George is sentenced to row in a nearby canal with an apple tree, Sweet Romeo to be "steeped down in phosphorous 86 years, and at the expiration of that time, you be devoured alive by fleas, if they will eat you." One must presume this is a satire and that the characters represent real people, but what the events being satirized were, or who was the author, and was he clever or crazy, is probably lost to history. Its meaning is unknown. Item 100. $500.

 

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.com. Their website is www.lesserbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Dubliners,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, 1914. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> The Beatles.- Baker (Geoffrey.) 3 Autograph Letters and 1 Autograph Card signed to Ann Gosnell, addtionally sgn’d by George Harrison, John Lennon, Cynthia Lennon and others, 1968. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Pilgrim Press.- Dod (John). <i>A plaine and familiar exposition of the tenne commandements ...,</i> [Leiden], [William Brewster], 1617. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Automaton Chess Player & Mechanical Illusion.- Reynell (H., printer). “The Famous Chess-Player, No.14, St.James's-Street, next Brooks's,” broadside advertisement for "The famous Automaton", [1784]. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Clemens (Samuel Langhorne). <i>Life on the Mississippi,</i> first English edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, 1883. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Arctic Sledge Flag.- Fulford (Reginald Baldwin). Sledge flag... HMS Discovery, 1875. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first edition, first printing, 1997. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Piranesi (Giovanni Battista). <i>Le Antichità Romane,</i> 4 vol., 1756. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal, called). <i>Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus Celebriores,</i> 3 parts in 1, Richard Ford's copy, Venice, Giovanni Battista Pasquali, 1751. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Atlases.- Speed (John). <i>A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World,</i> bound with <i>The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine,</i> 1631-27. £12,000 to £18,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Anatomical illustration.- Aselli (Gaspare). <i>De lactibus sive lacteis venis... dissertatio,</i> first edition, Milan, Giovanni Battista Bidelli, 1627. £20,000 to £30,000
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first issue, 8vo, 1997. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Bible, Italian.- Malermi Bible, woodcut illustrations, folio, Lazaro de Soardi & Bernardino Benali, Venice,1517. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Germany.- Homann (Johann Baptist). <i>Atlas von Deutschland,</i> engraved half title, hand coloured, 87 double page engraved maps, [folio, Erben, Nuremberg, 1753]. £8,000 to £10,000
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> [Mirk (John)].- <i>Liber festivalis et Quatuor sermons</i> [bound with], [Le Roy (Pierre)] <i>A Pleasant Satyre or Poesie,</i> first edition in English, Widdow Orwin for Thomas Man, 1595, 8vo. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Antoninus Florentinus (Saint Archbishop of Florence). <i>Confessionale: Defecerunt…,</i> 8vo, Pietro Quarengi, Venice, 15 February 1499. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Jesuit Letters.- [Froes (Father Luigi) & et al.)] Avvisi del Giapone de gli anni 1582, 1583, 1584…, 1586 [bound with] Avvisi della Cina et Giapone…, FIRST EDITIONS, Rome. £1,000 to £1,500
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Plutarch & Probus (Aemilius). <i>Plutarchi Cheronei et Aemilii Probi Illustrium,</i> folio, Nicolas de Pratis for Jean-Petit, Paris, 1521. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Bible.- English. <i>The Byble in Englyshe of the Largest and Greatest volume,</i> elaborate woodcut border, text vignettes, folio, 1541. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Fore-edge Painting.- Lord George Byron, The Giaour, a Fragment of a Turkish Tale, bound with 10 other titles, 4 plates marked 'Proof.', 1813. £800 to £1,200
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>September 25, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Manson (John). Twelve by Sixteen Papers of John Mason, a collection of 50 sheets of paper, some watermarked, 12 x 16”, c.1978. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Dr. No,</i> FIRST EDITION, original boards, dust-jacket, 8vo, 1958. £700 to £900
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Eliot (T.S.) <i>Four Quartets,</i> NUMBER 121 of 290 COPIES, signed by author, 1960. £400 to £600

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions