Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2006 Issue

Twain and Einstein at The 19th Century Shop

Mark Twain and Albert Einstein from The 19th Century Shop


By Michael Stillman

There are just two, very specific subjects of the 19th Century Shop's 108th catalogue. One is Mark Twain. The other Albert Einstein. What did these two gentlemen have in common? On the surface, not all that much. One was one of the world's greatest writers, perhaps the finest America ever produced. The other was a brilliant, scientific mind. If there was ever anyone smarter, I cannot imagine who he or she was. So they do share the attribute of brilliance, though I doubt Twain could have understood the theory of relativity, or Einstein have written Huckleberry Finn. However, both had shocks of long, gray hair in their later years, and each is the subject of the latest 19th Century Shop catalogue. Here are some of the items from these two great men you will find in its pages.

Twain's greatest friend and benefactor during the last two decades of his life was Henry H. Rogers. Rogers was one of the great industrialists of his or any era. Born of working class roots, Rogers sought his fortune in the Pennsylvania oil fields and found it. His business would be absorbed by John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil, of which he became a principal and leader. From there, he would extend his influence into copper and steel, being a director of U.S. Steel, and into railroads, the giant industry of its day. He was known as a ruthless competitor and was labeled as one of the "robber barons." However, Rogers had a softer side, and gave generously to his hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and through Booker T. Washington, to schools to help educate Blacks in the South. He also befriended Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) in the 1890s when the latter found himself in financial straits due to bad investments. What Rogers did for Clemens was remarkable. He took over management of his finances, nursing him back to financial health. All the while, Rogers managed to hold onto Clemens' literary copyrights, rather than allowing creditors to gain control of his life's work. By effecting Clemens' recovery through the author's own assets, rather than giving him money as Rogers easily could, Rogers enabled the writer to recover financially while retaining his dignity. Rogers truly was a friend, and Clemens greatly appreciated it. This item is a letter, signed "S.L.C.," from Clemens to Rogers, written aboard Rogers' yacht off of Cape Cod. Evidently Rogers was unable to take the time off himself. "By George, you ought to have been along!" Clemens exclaims. And, "There is no way to thank you for this lovely trip, though Mrs. Clemens is trying all the time to express it." The letter is dated June 26, 1902. Priced at $7,000.

This offered copy of Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is inscribed by both Clemens and his daughter, Jean. Jean suffered from violent epileptic seizures, and sadly died the following year at the age of 29. During the summer of 1908, Jean stayed at the seaside Gloucester, Massachusetts, home of Frances Knowles. Clemens was most grateful, and inscribed this book, "To Mrs. Frances Serrill Knowles with grateful appreciation of her kindnesses to my daughter Jean. S.L. Clemens August 1908." Jean Clemens also inscribed a note to Mrs. Knowles. This copy carries the provenance of Walter Chrysler, better known for his automobiles than his book collection. $7,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000
  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000

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