Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2020 Issue

The Latest Selection of Rare Americana from David M. Lesser Antiquarian Books

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Rare Americana from David M. Lesser.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has published their Catalogue 172 of Rare Americana. This is their latest selection of material related to America primarily from the late 18th and the 19th century. We find much here about politics, slavery, war, crime and religion. Four out of five of those are still major topics of discussion and conflict today, and even human slavery in somewhat different forms is still around. These are a few selections from the 150 items offered herein.

 

We begin with an unexpected book, or at least unexpected to have been written by someone who worked in the antebellum South. The title is American Chattelized Humanity, and Its Supports. By Jonathan Walker, late of Florida, where he was put in the Pillory, fined, branded with Hot Irons, imprisoned eleven months, &c. &c., by the Government of the United States, for an attempted act of Humanity, published in 1847. Walker was a fisherman and his crime was an attempt to help some runaway slaves escape by boat to the British West Indies, where slavery had been outlawed. For his act of humanity, he was imprisoned and literally branded, with the letters “SS” for slave stealer branded on his hand. He became known in the North as “the Man with the Branded Hand.” After his release, brought about when northern abolitionists paid his fine, Walker moved north and told his story and that of slaves in the South. He tells of the indignities and brutalities experienced by the slaves and the contradictions with America's expressed ideals. Writes Walker, slavery “has plunged us into deep disgrace in the eyes of the civilized world, and into awful guilt at the bar of our common humanity.” An image on the cover depicts a slave sale with the caption “Horses, Slaves, & Other Cattle Sold Here.” John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem about Walker entitled “The Branded Hand.” Item 143. Priced at $750.

 

Here is a man who had a very different view of what constitutes freedom. Judah Benjamin was a Louisiana senator who held several high level cabinet posts in the Confederate government after the outbreak of the Civil War. He was an eloquent speaker who used his skills to promote slavery and racism. In his waning days as a U.S. Senator before resigning to join the Confederacy, he delivered this Speech of Hon. J.P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, on the Right of Secession. Delivered in the Senate of the United States, Dec. 31, 1860. In it, he claimed the states had the right to secede, while foreseeing the likelihood that it would lead to war. He concludes that while the Union “may carry desolation into our peaceful land,” and “set our cities aflame,” that “you never can subjugate us; you never can convert the free sons of the soil into vassals, paying tribute to your power; you never can degrade them to a servile and inferior race. Never! Never!” Evidently, he missed the irony of using a claim to defend the “free sons of the soil” to justify enslavement of the people who actually worked that soil on behalf of the plantation owners. At the end of the war, Benjamin managed to escape the country as Walker's slaves attempted, by getting a boat to take him to the Bahamas. Item 10. $1,000.

 

Confederate officials and soldiers weren't the only people to suffer losses as a result of their side's defeat in the Civil War. Also, there was Curtis Wilhoit and others like him. They were owners of Confederate bonds. Item 29 is one such bond, stating “It is hereby certified that the Confederate States of America are indebted unto Curtis Wilhoit or assigns in the sum of forty eight hundred dollars redeemable after the first day of January 1866 with interest...at eight percent per annum.” No, it was not redeemable on January 1, 1866, as there was no Confederate States of America to redeem it anymore. Four thousand eight hundred dollars was a lot of money to lose in 1866. This certificate is signed by Robert Tyler, son of President John Tyler, the only U.S. President to support the Confederacy during the Civil War. $350.

 

Abraham Lincoln freed (most of) the slaves at the beginning of 1864 through the Emancipation Proclamation, but it took a constitutional amendment to eliminate the practice once and for all. That was the 13th Amendment. It states that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except imprisonment for conviction of crimes, shall exist in the United States. It went into effect near the end of 1865. Item 1 is a collage of pictures of all the senators and congressmen who voted to adopt the 13th Amendment, along with President Lincoln and Vice-President Hannibal Hamlin. Hamlin was still in office when Congress passed the amendment, though he had been replaced by Andrew Johnson by the time the states ratified it. Item 1. $750.

 

Just before the Civil War started, a little boy was born in San Francisco... a very little boy. His name was Leopold S. Kahn, and a decade later he was discovered by P.T. Barnum. At the time, Barnum described him as being even smaller than Tom Thumb. In Barnum fashion, P.T. gave him a military title and name, “Admiral Dot,” and put him on display. Item 64 is a carte de visite of “Dot” circa 1876. The caption says Admiral Dot, Eighteen years old; Twenty-five inches high. Twenty pounds. The “Admiral” is standing on a luxurious, velvet-seated chair. I found an earlier such card in which “Dot” at age 14 was only 16 pounds though 25 inches tall. Evidently, all that eating must have stirred his growth hormones. Admiral Dot became too tall for Barnum. He married another small person and had two average size children. Eventually, he reached four feet tall. $125.

 

Admiral Dot had a nephew who also experienced dwarfism and was also part of Barnum's show. Lesser offers his carte de visite too. His name was Samuel Kahn, but Barnum gave him the name “Major Atom.” His card is captioned, Major Atom, Aged 10 Years, Weight 15 lbs. No height is given. Item 65. $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

  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €
  • <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Harriet Tubman Cabinet Card by H.S. Squyer, Auburn, NY, 1892. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Scarce <i>Events of the Tulsa Disaster,</i> First Edition, 1922. $4,000 to $6,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass by Benjamin F. Smith, 1864. $3,000 to $5,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> California Imprint of <i>President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation</i> Broadside, 1864. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> John C.H. Grabill Cabinet Card of Buffalo Soldier Wearing Buffalo Coat, ca 1886. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare <i>What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,</i> 2nd Cookbook Published by African American. $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Frederick Douglass Walking Stick, 1888. $3,000 to $5,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Only Known Slave Narrative Published Independently in California, <i>Life and Adventures of James Williams.</i> $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare First Edition of History of Black Literature, Abbé Grégoire <i>De La Littérature des Nègres</i>. $2,500 to $3,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> African American Soldier and Medal of Honor Winner Christian A. Fleetwood CDV, PLUS. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries Pennant, 1910 Reno, Nevada. $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Joe Gans Photograph at 1906 Goldfield, Nevada Fight by Percy Dana. $600 to $800
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Sense and Sensibility: A Novel, By a Lady,</i> 3 volumes, London, 1811. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>Kew Gardens,</i> limited edition, signed by Woolf & Bell, London, 1927. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> <i>[Arabian Nights],</i> Calcutta II version, 4 volumes, Calcutta & London, 1839-1842. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 ALS to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor, anticipating Christie’s sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Emma,</i> first edition, London, 1816. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Hirohito & Nagako, Emperor & Empress of Japan, 2 photographs signed, showing Nagako in kimono & obi bearing the imperial seal. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 autograph letters signed to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor Elizabeth Tilberis, anticipating Christie’s announcement of a sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Sarojini Naidu, complete galley proof of <i>The Broken Wing</i> signed with several holograph pages & an autograph letter signed to writer Edmund Gosse, 1916. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Fernando Pessoa, <i>Mensagem,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, Lisbon, 1934. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Graham Greene, <i>The Basement Room,</i> first edition, Greene’s personal copy, signed with annotations throughout, London, 1935. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Abraham Lincoln, partly-printed document signed, call for troops issued during America’s first national draft just days before the NYC draft riots, 1863. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b><br><i>Les Chansons de Bilitis</i> by Pierre Louÿs, illustrated by George Barbier & F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1922. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.

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