Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2005 Issue

Americana Including Black Americana From Michael Brown Rare Books

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Printed and Manuscript Americana from Michael Brown.


By Michael Stillman

We have received the 39th catalogue from Americana specialist Michael Brown Rare Books. First an aside. This is not the Michael Brown of FEMA fame. This is the bookselling Michael Brown, and he does his job quite competently. The title of catalogue 39 is Printed and Manuscript Americana including Black Americana. That emphasis reflects the fact that almost 100 of the 231 items pertain to African Americans, primarily the slavery-abolition debate which raged from 1830-1860. Many others pertain to the Civil War itself. And then there are the manuscripts. The catalogue contains a fascinating group of diaries and letters from ordinary people, generally living in the countryside when America was mostly a land of rural farmers. They provide an outstanding look at what life was like for most citizens in the 19th century.

It is hard to imagine how, just a century and a half ago, most Americans either supported, or at least were tolerant of, the institution of slavery. How could they not see the terrible injustice? Perhaps the answer lies in what they were taught from an early age. They were trained to accept it. Some anti-slavery forces understood this problem, and so they responded with a child's book to reach youngsters at an early age. From 1847, the book is, The Anti-Slavery Alphabet. "A" is not for "apple" in this primer. The message is much deeper. Here is how it starts:
A is an Abolitionist
A man who wants to free
The wretched slave - and give to all
An equal liberty.

B is a Brother with a skin
Of somewhat darker hue
But in our Heavenly Father's sight
He is as dear as you.
The Anti-Slavery Alphabet is catalogue item 5 and is priced at $500.

Not all northerners were so inclined. In the days before the outbreak of the Civil War, a number of "Great Union Meetings" were held. While the use of the term "union" might make one think it represented pro-northern sentiments, in the days prior to the Civil War, in the North, this often implied support of slavery. The idea was that supporting slavery would hold the Union together by stopping the South from seceding. Item 45 is the Official Report of the Great Union Meeting, Held at the Academy of Music, in the City of New York, December 19th, 1859. New York was one of the more reluctant partners in the Civil War, a source of southern sympathy in the heart of the North. Item 45. $150.

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> 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> 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> 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.

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