Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2021 Issue

Rare Americana from David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books


Catalogue 185 from David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their Catalogue 185. If you follow Lesser's catalogues, you know what to anticipate here. Not the specific items, of course, those are new. Rather, it's the type of material, Americana, mostly from the 18th and19th centuries, primarily pamphlets, manuscripts, and other material less than full book length. Here are a few selections from number 185.


Want to really piss off the locals? The British were good at that in colonial America. As if the Stamp Act wasn't bad enough, Parliament passed the Quartering Act of 1765. The British had trouble finding and paying for accommodations for their soldiers during peacetime in America so they decided to shift the responsibility to the colonists. It required them to house the soldiers in their “inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualing houses, and the houses of sellers of wine and houses of persons selling of rum, brandy, strong water, cider or metheglin.” If this proved insufficient, they had to place them in “uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings.” “Outhouses” probably meant something else here, like outbuildings, as the colonists otherwise might have agreed to house them there. The colonists also had to pick up the tab. That's the kind of stuff that can lead to a revolution. The offensive act can be found within ...An Act for Punishing Mutiny and Desertion, and for the Better Payment of the Army and Their Quarters, published in 1765. Item 98. Priced at $2,000.


Speaking of desertion, this man can be thought of as either a deserter or as an American Patriot, depending on your point of view. It is a document headed Volunteer Enlistment. State of Louisiana. City of New Orleans. It proclaims, “I Hamilton Haden born in Pickens County in the State of Alabama, aged twenty four years, and by occupation a farmer do hereby acknowledge to have volunteered this twenty-fifth day of March 1864, to serve as a soldier in the army of the United States of America, for the defences of New Orleans.” Haden pledges his allegiance to the United States and a physician has certified him as “free from all bodily defects and mental infirmity.” Haden also testifies that he was “entirely sober when enlisted.” He had enlisted with the Confederacy in 1861, but his entire company surrendered in Tennessee the following year. They were released in a prisoner exchange, but Haden deserted, re-enlisted, and deserted again. It was after this that he decided to switch sides and enlist with the Union army, with which he remained until April 1865. Item 53. $875.


This is a letter from a Confederate soldier in a hospital in Richmond, dated July 24,1863. He had been there since the previous November, but evidently things were now looking up. He expresses his sorrow to his wife, Mary, because he can't see her yet. However, Private William F. Tanner writes, “Now Mary I am detailed to go to Charleston or Georgia to guard some bridge at $18 and a half a month. I won't have to march none.” He adds that this will enable him to be as close to home as he can be and the pay beats $11 a month, presumably what he was paid before. He concludes, “I will remain your true husband til death.” Sadly, that came sooner than expected. He died a month later from typhoid. Mary was also true til death, never remarrying. Item 24. $500.


This is another war story, a manuscript by John Russell Platten from October 4-8, 1914. He came from the British Royal Navy reserve and served in the Siege of Antwerp. In four short days, the account changes from joy and excitement to pure terror. On October 4, the soldiers are jubilant to hear they are shipping out to the continent. He marches to Dover, accompanied by his father and brother. On arrival in France, they drink “mug after mug” of lager, and enjoy the cigarettes brought by the French ladies. Then it's off to the battlefield, the trenches of World War I. It all changes quickly. On October 7, the planes start bombing them. They scavenge doors and other items from a farmhouse to build a shelter, the farmer and his wife saddened by what is happening. By the 8th, they learn the Colonel has been killed and they need to defend the trenches “at all costs.” Antwerp now looks to all to be in flames, and the trenches, hit with shells, are collapsing “and several men have been buried alive.” They attempt to retreat, but are ordered back. “My mind is almost a blank,” he writes, “& I walk as if in a dream... Another man has gone mad and I don't think any of us can go much further.” Only 22 of the 700 seamen in the battalion make it back to England, the others either dead or captured. Platten appears to be one who was interned in Holland. Item 96. $2,500.


There was a sure road to riches untold in the 19th century – oil. All you had to do was find it. This elephant folio broadside from 1902 announces, A Sure Thing! A Big Thing! Hard to turn down a sure thing, and civil engineer Charles O. Richardson brought the good news in a series of articles reprinted on this broadsheet from Chicago. Chemists, academics and “oil experts” confirmed his findings around Evanston, in the southwestern corner of Wyoming. “They have struck oil in Evanston and millionaires are met on every street.” For those who didn't want to go searching for oil themselves, they could purchase stock in Richardson's Standard Reserve Oil Co. I don't know whether people who purchased the stock became rich, but Standard Reserve was a real oil company, in existence at least a couple of decades, but I have not been able to determine what happened to it. Item 101. $350.


It is not always that you can find a picture of Washington and Lincoln together considering that their lives did not overlap. Such an image could only have been seen in heaven. Speaking of which, here it is, on a carte de visite from 1865. It is a strange image. Washington is embracing Lincoln, evidently on the latter's ascension to heaven. The angels are looking on. The photographer was W. C. Crew, but one surmises he was photographing someone's artwork rather than a real scene taking place in heaven. Item 72. $150.


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><center>Koller Auctions<br>Books & Autographs<br>29 March 2023</b>
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> DADA - <i>Cabaret Voltaire.</i> A collection of artistic and literary contributions. Edited by Hugo Ball. CHF 5,000 to 8,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> EXPRESSIONISM - <i>Der Sturm.</i> Weekly magazine for culture and the arts. Almost complete suite from the years 1910 to 1932. CHF 20,000 to 30,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> LISBON EARTHQUAKE - <i>Augsburg collection of copper engravings of Lisbon. CHF 40,000 to 60,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Hamilton, William. <i>Campi Phlegraei. Observations on the Volcanos of the Two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London.</i> Naples, 1776-1779. CHF 50,000 to 70,000.
    <b><center>Koller Auctions<br>Books & Autographs<br>29 March 2023</b>
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Leonardi, Domenico Felice. <i>Le Delizie della villa di Castellazzo descritte in verso dall'abbate Domenico Felice Leonardi lucchese fra gli Arcadi Ildosio Foloetico.</i> Milan, 1743. CHF 12,000 to 18,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Zwingli, Huldrych. <i>Von erkiesen und freyhait der speisen. Von ergernusz und Verbößerung. Ob man gewalt hab die speyß zu etlichen zeyten verbieten [...]</i>. CHF 2,500 to 4,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> HENDRIK VAN VULLENHOE, UMKREIS. Benedictional and other texts for Johannes von Venningen, Bishop of Basel. Latin manuscript on parchment. CHF 50,000 to 80,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Gujer, Hans Rudolf. Master typist's book by Hans Rudolf Gujer from Wermetschweil (Wermatswil). German manuscript on paper. CHF 3,000 to 5,000.
  • <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Autograph album leaf signed, 1826. €9,000 to €12,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Franz Kafka: Autograph letter unsigned, 1924. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Torquato Tasso: Autograph poem signed, no date. €12,000 to €16,000.
    <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Charles Darwin: Autograph letter signed, 1866. €4,500 to €6,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Albert Einstein: Autograph letter signed, 1933. €6,000 to €8,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Heinrich Hertz: Autograph manuscript signed, 1889. €18,000 to €24,000.
    <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Giambattista Bodoni: Autograph letter signed, 1787. €900 to €1,200.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Francisco de Goya: Autograph letter signed, 1789. €18,750 to €25,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Martin Luther: Notes from his desk, no date. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Ludwig van Beethoven: Autograph letter signed, 1816. €22,500 to €30,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Gustav Mahler: Foto portrait signed and annotated, 1907(?). €7,500 to €10,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Bed?ich Smetana: Autograph letter signed, 1883. €4,500 to €6,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Roman binding.- Pindar. <i>Olympia, Pythia, Nemea, Isthmia,</i> translated by Johannes Lonicer, contemporary Roman binding by Niccolo Franzese, Basel, 1535. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Raverat (Gwen). Comprehensive album of 530 wood engravings, circa 1909-1950. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). <i>Fiesta,</i> first English edition, first impression dust-jacket, 1927. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, first impression, 1953. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>Great Expectations,</i> 3 vol., first edition, first impression, Chapman and Hall, 1861. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Campbell (Colen) & others. <i>Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British Architect...,</i> 5 vol., vol.1-3 later editions, vol.4 & 5 first editions, [?1731]-31-67-71. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Geography.- Mela (Pomponius). <i>Cosmographia, sive De situ orbis,</i> Venice, Franciscus Renner de Heilbronn, 1478. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> America.- [?Espinosa y Tello (José)]. <i>Relacion del Viage hecho por las Goletas Sutil y Mexicana en el Año de 1792,</i> 2 vol. including Atlas, first edition, Madrid, 1802. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Australasia.- Péron (Francois) and Louis-Claude de Saulces de Freycinet. <i>Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes,</i> 5 vol. including Atlas, second edition, Paris, 1824. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Botany.- Curtis (William). <i>The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed,</i> 83 vol. in 62, 1794-1956. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Darwin (Charles).- Lecky (W.E.H.) <i>The Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe,</i> 2 vol., Darwin's copy with inscription "Charles Darwin 1865", pencil marginalia and pencil notes, 1865. £7,000 to £10,000.
  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript African Americana:<br>March 30, 2023</b>
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Victor H. Green, <i>The Negro Motorist Green Book,</i> New York, 1949. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Papers of pianist-composer Lawrence Brown relating to Paul Robeson & more, various places, 1925-54. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Freedom Summer archive of civil rights activist Karen Haberman Trusty, Atlanta & elsewhere, 1963-64. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> New York, 1933. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Archive of letters from the sculptor Richmond Barthé to a close Jamaican friend, various places, 1966-85. $25,000 to $35,000.

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