Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2019 Issue

Rare Americana from David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books


Catalogue 170 of Rare Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued a new catalogue of Rare Americana, their Catalogue 170. The material is similar to other Lesser catalogues, but the individual items are new. Lesser specializes primarily in pamphlets and ephemeral items, less than full book length, with the focus being Americana from late Colonial times to Reconstruction. Politics and religion are major topics, but there were many other things going on in America which also make their appearances. Much of it remains fascinating today, perhaps because so many issues from long ago have their counterparts today. Here are a few selections.


Before there was a fake news New York Times, there was a fake news New York Herald. Item 22 is the New York Herald from September 6, 1861, which boldly announces "The Death of Jefferson Davis." It reports, "Your correspondent has this moment...received special despatch, from a reliable source, dated Louisville, Kentucky, Sept. 5...which confirms the announcement of the death of Jeff. Davis." A special messenger from Fort Monroe had confirmed flags had been flying at half-mast for several days. Another source said Davis had been seriously ill for several days and "little hope was entertained of his recovery." This is followed by a biographical sketch of the supposed new President, Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens. Of course, we now know that the news of Davis' death was greatly exaggerated, the "reliable" source was not reliable, and the Herald was propagating fake news. Or, perhaps from their standpoint, it was wishful thinking. Davis was quite alive and would continue to be so for another 28 years. Perhaps we can be more gentle and simply say the New York Herald was ahead of its time. Priced at $150.


Item 131 is a printing of A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq., Governor: The Honorable His Majesty's Council, the House of Representatives of...Massachusetts-Bay...May 26th. 1773. The preacher was Charles Turner, Pastor of the Duxbury Church. This was a time of deepening conflict between British authorities and the colonists and Turner was pulling no punches. He insists the people have an "unalienable right" to choose their government and leaders. He notes that the British Constitution, "once enjoyed by this province," has been "inhumanly murdered." He continues, "How distressing the thought of being slaves, how charming that of being free!" I imagine Turner's words were well-received by the Massachusetts representatives, but not by the guest of honor, Gov. Hutchinson. Hutchinson was a died-in-the-wool British loyalist whose actions against the colonists just deepened their anger and desire to rebel. The following year, he was forced to flee the colony for his own safety. $375


Here is one of the more clever arguments against the old Sunday Blue Laws I've seen. Those are the laws that prevented most businesses from operating on Sundays as recently as a few decades ago. However, this one goes back to 1831, and the target was Congress' ban on the delivery of mail on Sunday. The unnamed writer, who some have identified as Thomas Cooper, addressed the pamphlet To Any Member of Congress. He attacks the clergy for its promotion of the Sunday ban on mail delivery, pointing out that "Sunday is their day of labor; of earning money; but they forbid any one else to do so." Gotcha. Item 26. $450.


Here is a picture that will fit in your collection of portraits of American statesmen. Circa 1852-1856, 5" x 6 1/2", "printed in oil colors" is a full length portrait of Franklin Pierce. Pierce stands by a green-draped table, one hand resting on a pile of papers, the other on his hip. He is formally dressed, as befitting a President. This image should fit well between your portraits of Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan. Item 107. $450.


Here is some smart work accomplished by a group of lawyers to avert a tragedy. Through the middle of the 19th century, we were still having duels, one party feeling "dissed" by another, with the conflict being resolved by one of them shooting the other. While the pamphlet wars of the time were an imperfect but better way of handling these disputes, dueling was plain barbaric. Nevertheless, on October 20, 1849, Alexander Moseley, Editor of the Richmond Daily Whig, and William Daniel, Jr., of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, were on the brink of a duel that would send one to the grave. Fortunately, four lawyers came up with this contract. Apparently, Judge Daniels made an offensive statement in a rival newspaper that Mr. Moseley believed was aimed at him. The solution, naturally, was for one of these gentlemen to kill the other. However, the lawyers wisely determined that the statement by Judge Daniel was meant merely to deny authorship of a previous article and was not aimed at Mr. Moseley. Both parties, along with the lawyers, agreed this was correct, they all signed the document, and both got to live happily ever after. Lesser has not been able to find any printed records concerning this dispute, but obviously it was resolved as Daniel lived for another 24 years and Moseley for 32. Item 25. $750.


Next is a Message from the President of the United States Transmitting Copies of the Correspondence Between the Governor of Georgia and Maj. Gen. Jackson on the Subject of the Arrest of Captain Obed Wright, December 14, 1818. The President was James Monroe, Maj. Gen. Jackson future President Andrew Jackson. If, as President, Jackson had stood as he did at this time, he wouldn't have ended up with the severely tarnished reputation he has today. The backstory to the dispute between the Governor and General was Jackson's being too far off from southern Georgia during the First Seminole War. Some hostile Indians were causing problems in Georgia, and the Governor contacted Jackson to send some troops. He was too far away, so Gov. Rabun got some volunteers and federal troops headed by Capt. Obed Wright. For whatever reason, Wright got it in his head that the leader of the hostile Indians was in the Chehaw village, though his fort commander told him they were friendly. The Chehaws were not only friendly, but they had earlier resupplied Jackson's forces and some of them had joined up with him. Wright and his men brutally attacked, burning the village, killing several or many non-resisting Indians. Indian deaths have been estimated at anywhere from 5-50. No whites died. General Jackson was furious, and hence, the correspondence from both sides with the President, which he hereby turned over to Congress at their request. Included in the correspondence was Jackson's apology to the Chehaws. Unfortunately, as President, Jackson turned a blind eye to later injustices toward the Indians, sending them off on the brutal Trail of Tears, for which his reputation has come to pay dearly. If only he had remembered. Item 151. $125.


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

  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana<br>November 6, 2019</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> RATZER, Bernard. <i>Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767.</i> London: Jefferys and Faden, “Jan.y” 12, 1776. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. COCKERELL, Sydney C. <i>Some German Woodcuts of the Fifteenth Century.</i> Hammersmith: The Kelmscott Press, 1897 [issued 1898]. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> [GOLDEN COCKEREL PRESS]. KEATS, John. <i>Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of Saint Agnes and Other Poems.</i> Waltham Saint Lawrence, Berkshire: The Golden Cockerel Press, 1928. $6,000 to $8,000
    <center> <b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana<br>November 6, 2019</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> [GRANT, Ulysses S.— GRANT, Julia, First Lady]. Carved Applewood and 18-karat Gold Jewelry Suite, Browne & Spaulding, Jewelers, New York City, 1865. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> [LINCOLN ASSASSINATION]. GARDNER, Alexander. <i>Incidents of the War |Sic Semper Sicariis</i> [caption title]. Washington, D. C.: Philip & Solomons, 1865. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> A COMPLETE COLLECTION of 115 titles published in R. R. Donnelley's Lakeside Classics series. Chicago, 1903-2017. COMPLETE RUN OF THE LONGEST-RUNNING CONTINUOUS SERIES OF BOOKS IN THE WORLD. $5,000 to $7,000
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana<br>November 6, 2019</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> GLEIZES, Albert. METZINGER, Jean. <i>Du Cubisme.</i> Paris, 1947. LIMITED EDITION, number 19 of 20 copies on papier d'Auvergne. $3,000 to $4,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> [THE LITTLE REVIEW]. ANDERSON, Margaret, ed. POUND, Ezra, ed. HEAP, Jane, ed. <i>The Little Review.</i> Vol. I, No. 1 through Vol. XII, No. 2. 1914-1929. $3,000 to $4,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> [MOUNTENEY, Leonard, binder]. LOUŸS, Pierre. <i>Songs of Bilitis.</i> Chicago: Argus Books, 1931. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 6:</b> [HANCOCK, John]. Partly-printed U.S. Loan-Office Transfer Certificate issued on behalf of Hancock. Sgn’d on recto by William Imlay, as Commissioner of Loans of Connecticut. 28 February 1793. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <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>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DE CORDOBA, JACOB. <i>Map of the State of Texas.</i> New York, 1866. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ARNOLD, BENEDICT. Autograph bookseller's receipt for Dr. John Dickinson, Signed ("B. Arnold"), February 1767. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. 4 Typed Letters Signed ("A Einstein") to Cleveland E. Dodge offering early reports on the meetings of the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> EISENHOWER, DWIGHT D. Typed Letter Signed ("Dwight D. Eisenhower") to General Henri Giraud written from a secret bunker in Gibraltar on the eve of Operation Torch, November 4 [but 6], 1942. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> Early Broadside Printing of the GADSDEN PURCHASE, Puebla, August 16, 1854. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ALLEN, ETHAN. Autograph Letter Signed to Crevecouer during the Constitutional Debates in Congress, 2 pp, August 29, 1787. $30,000 to $50,000.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Library of a Midwestern Collector<br>November 5, 2019</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> DARWIN, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> London John Murray, 1859. FIRST EDITION. THE VERY FINE MELLON-GARDEN COPY. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions Auctioneers, Nov. 5:</b> ECKERT, J. P, H. H. GOLDSTINE, and J. G. BRAINERD. <i>Description of the ENIAC and comments on electronic digital computing machines.</i> N.p., 1945. FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED BY GOLDSTINE. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> EUCLID. <i>Elementa geometriae.</i> Translated from the Arabic by Adelard of Bath. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 25 May 1482. FIRST EDITION. $60,000 to $80,000
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Library of a Midwestern Collector<br>November 5, 2019</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> [HAMILTON, Alexander, James MADISON and John JAY]. <i>The Federalist: A Collection of Essays…</i> New York: John and Andrew M'Lean, 1788. FIRST EDITION. $60,000 to $80,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> GALILEI, Galileo. <i>Dialogo...Dove ne i congressi di quattro giornate si discorre sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo Tolemaico, e Copernicano.</i> Florence, 1632. FIRST EDITION. $30,000 to $40,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> JOYCE, James. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922. FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 100 COPIES SIGNED BY JOYCE. $120,000 to $180,000
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Library of a Midwestern Collector<br>November 5, 2019</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> KEYNES, John Maynard. <i>The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money.</i> London: Macmillan, 1936. FIRST EDITION. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> NEWTON, Isaac, Sir. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.</i> London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society, 1687. FIRST EDITION. $150,000 to $250,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> ROWLING, J. K. <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.</i> London: Bloomsbury, 1997. FIRST EDITION, SIGNED BY ROWLING. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Nov. 5:</b> SMITH, Adam. <i>An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.</i> London: for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1776. FIRST EDITION. $70,000 to $90,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> Sir Isaac Newton, <i>Opticks,</i> first edition, first issue, London, 1704. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> Johannes Jacobus Canis, <i>De modo studendi in utroque iure,</i> first edition, Padua, 1476. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> Pope Clemens V, <i>Constitutiones,</i> Nuremberg, 1482. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> Nicolaus Panormitanus de Tudeschis, <i>Lectura super V libris Decretalium,</i> Basel, 1480-81. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> Michael Faraday, <i>Experimental Researches in Electricity,</i> complete set, first editions, London, 1832-56. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> William Gilbert, <i>Tractatus sive physiologia nova de magnete,</i> Sedini, 1628. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> John Bulwer, <i>Philocophus,</i> first edition of the first book in English on the deaf, London, 1648. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> James Cook, complete set, 9 volumes, London, 1773-84. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 24:</b> Nicolaus Bertrand, <i>Opus de Tholosano[rum] Gestis ab Urbe Condita,</i> with the earliest known view of the city of Toulouse, 1515. $2,000 to $3,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions