Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2022 Issue

Rare Early Americana from David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books

618b1fc5-21f2-468d-a905-528f8b92f338

Rare Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has published a new catalogue, No. 188 of Rare Americana. It is filled with much contemporary work of 18th and 19th century Americana. There are numerous broadsides, pamphlets, prints and manuscript documents in the collection. For those who collect American Presidents, particularly the more obscure ones, there are several presidential almanacs for Presidents William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor, generally printed for campaign purposes. Between them, they only held office for 1 ½ years, less than half a term. Add in the inaugural address of James Garfield and we have three Presidents with a combined two years in office. They might have become greats but we will never know. If only... Here are a few of the other selections from this catalogue.

 

We usually present accounts of the American Revolution from the side of the Americans. It is time for some balance. This one comes only with the small heading BOSTON, 26th June, 1775. Published by the pro-British printer John Howe, it is an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill, which actually took place on Breed's Hill. Loyalist Howe witnessed the battle and presented his opinion in this scarce broadside. Despite impediments such as walls and fences, “vast numbers of rebels,” and heavy fire, the British still drove forward. “The rebels were then forced from other strong Holds, and pursued 'till they were drove clear of the Peninsula, leaving Five Pieces of Cannon behind them.” He concludes, “This Action has shown the Bravery of the King's Troops, who under every Disadvantage, gained a compleat Victory over Three Times their Number, strongly posted, and covered by Breastworks. But they fought for their KING, their LAWS and CONSTITUTION.” Now for the rest of the story. The British did indeed “win” the Battle of Bunker Hill, but it was a costly, Pyrrhic victory. The British suffered many more casualties than the Americans in chasing them to the highlands beyond Boston. The losses were too great. The British never attempted to seize territory around Boston again and eventually abandoned the city to the patriots. Item 13. Priced at $20,000.

 

This was one of the saddest times in American history, and it has been captured in this Currier & Ives print. The caption states, The Funeral of President Lincoln, New York, April 25th, 1865. Passing Union Square. The Magnificent Funeral Car was Drawn by 16 Gray Horses Richly Caparisoned with Ostrich Plumes and Cloth of Black Trimmed with Silver Bullion. Even the horses were wearing black on this somber day as Lincoln's coffin was drawn though the streets of New York, to lie in state at City Hall on April 24-25, 1865. Lincoln was taken by train back home to Springfield, Illinois, after his assassination on April 15. The slow train would stop at 14 cities along the route so that the loving crowds could pay their final respects. He was buried in Springfield on May 4. One can see soldiers and mourners along with the horses and funeral car being taken through New York in this image. Item 32. $750.

 

Josiah Burnham was apparently a very unpleasant man whom few if any people liked. He lived in New Hampshire, where, at an age now in his 60s, he got into some financial difficulties. He also became a co-respondent in a divorce action so perhaps someone did like him. Burnham found himself in jail for forgery and swindling. He was held with two other men and didn't get along with them either. Supposedly, they had been needling him about the divorce action. Burnham managed to make a knife in prison which he pulled out and proceeded to cut the two men apart. That added one more charge to his crimes, actually two, double murders. One of his lawyers was the then young Daniel Webster, but not even the great orator could save him. Webster later recalled that his defense was an attack on capital punishment, not because he was against it but because he had nothing else to argue. His guilt was obvious and Webster couldn't even find a single good character witness. Burnham did manage to get a temporary reprieve but that was only so transportation of his body to Dartmouth's medical school could be arranged. Burnham was hanged on August 12, 1806, before a crowd of over 10,000 spectators, including children, some of whom brought picnic baskets. They were glad to be rid of him. Item 14 is An Analysis or Outline, of the Life and Character of Josiah Burnham; Who Was Sentenced to Death, at the Supreme Court, Holden at Plymouth, on the 4th Tuesday of May, 1806. $2,000.

 

This book is a look at the South shortly after the Civil War, the early days of Reconstruction. The author was Whitelaw Reid who had been a newspaper reporter during the war, present at the Battle of Gettysburg. He travelled south twice in 1865-66, the first visit coming with a group that included Salmon Chase, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. What he found was a South unreconstructed. On the first trip, he saw much unrepaired damage, but by the second, the South was busy rebuilding. What he also found was a people willing to concede they lost the war, and reluctantly willing to accept the end of slavery, but not much else. Southerners were not willing to give freed blacks any of the normal human rights nor even to treat them as more than some form of animal. They considered blacks intellectually inferior, not worthy or capable of voting or of other rights belonging to those created equal. Reid next went on to become editor of the New York Herald, succeeding Horace Greeley as publisher and owner after the latter died. He would serve in various public positions for Republican Presidents and was the party's nominee for Vice-President in 1892 when Benjamin Harrison ran for reelection. That was the presidential election Harrison lost. Reid's book is After the War: A Southern Tour. May 1, 1865 to May 1, 1866. Item 102. $275.

 

Here is an example of one of those rights still denied Blacks after the war that was corrected by a Supreme Court decision. The case was William Neal vs. the State of Delaware from 1880. Neal had been convicted of “rape upon a white woman,” which carried the death penalty. Neal appealed on the grounds that Blacks had been systematically excluded from serving on the jury. While the 15th Amendment enacted after the Civil War guaranteed the right of all citizens to vote, Delaware, a border state that allowed slavery, had not changed its constitution of 1831. It granted the right to vote only to “every free, white, male citizen of the age of twenty-two or upwards.” While this could no longer be enforced for voting, Delaware still used its own constitution in selecting jury pools, which limited its jury pools to “all persons qualified to vote.” The Supreme Court overturned this nonsense saying the 14th and 15th Amendments had rendered these discriminatory provisions null and void. Item 80. $1,000.

 

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>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Birds.- Gould (John). <i>The Birds of Great Britain,</i> 5 vol., first edition, [1862-]1873. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Canadiana.- Cockburn (Maj. Gen. James Pattison, 1779-1847), After. [Six Landscape of Quebec City and Six Views of Niagara Falls], 2 suites in 1 vol., comprising 12 aquatints, 1833. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> number 218 of 150 copies on verge d'arches, Paris, Shakespeare & Company, 1922. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first paperback edition, signed by the author, 1997. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Du Maurier (Daphne). <i>Rebecca,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author to her governess, 1938. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Magna Carta.- An exact copy of King John's Great Charter of 1215, transcribed from the fire damaged but legible manuscript in the Cottonian Library, British Library, J. Pine, 1733. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Woolf (Virginia). <i>Mrs Dalloway,</i> first edition, Hogarth Press, 1925. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Tudor exiles opposed to the Marian regime.- Mary I (Queen of England) Letter signed "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, signed at head, titled at head "By the King and Quene", 1556. £8,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> America.- Newfoundland.- Whitbourne (Sir Richard). <i>A discourse and discouery of Nevv-found-land…,</i> second edition, By Felix Kingston, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cervantès Saavedra (Miguel de). <i>El Ingenioso Hidalgo Do Quixote de la Mancha,</i> 4 vol., Madrid, Por Don Joaquin Ibarra, 1780. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Stubbs (George). <i>The Anatomy of the Horse,</i> first edition, first issue, Printed by J. Purser, for the Author, 1766. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cardiology.- Lower (Richard). <i>Tractatus de Corde item De Motu & Colore Sanguinus et Chyli in cum Transitu,</i> first edition, 1669. £5,000 to £7,000.
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>Initial A on vellum, Cologne around 1300. Est: €25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Androuet du Cerceau, <i> Bastiments de France,</i> 1607. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Cerillo, <i>Dipinti murali di Pompei,</i> 1886. Est: €2,500
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>L. de Austria, <i>Compilatio de astrorum scientia,</i> 1489. Est: €9,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>B. Besler, <i>Hortus Eystettensis,</i> around 1750. Est: €50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br><i>PAN,</i> 1895-1900. Est: €15,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1545. Est: €40,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Schiller, <i>Die Räuber,</i> 1781. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Albers, <i>Formulation : Articulation,</i> 1972. Est: €18,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>G. B. Ramusio, <i>Delle navigationi e viaggi,</i> 1556-1613. Est: €14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>M. Wied Neuwied, <i>Reise in das Innere Nord-America,</i> 1839-41. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Paolozzi, <i>Bunk,</i> 1972. Est: €25,000
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br> The Library of Henry Rogers<br>Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven<br>Part I<br>18 May 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> John James Audubon and James Bachman. <i>The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: J.J. Audubon, 1845-1848. £150,000 to £250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Thomas and William Daniell. <i>Oriental Scenery,</i> London, 1795-1807 [but 1841], 6 parts in 3 volumes, folio. £150,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Mark Catesby. <i>The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands...</i> London, 1731-1743, 2 volumes. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Gould and Lear. <i>A monograph of the Ramphastidae,</i> 1854; <i>Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae,</i> 1832. £60,000 to £90,000.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Graphic Design<br>May 19, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, <i>Triplex,</i> pencil maquette, 1930. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Claude Fayette Brandon, <i>The Chap Book,</i> circa 1895. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Various Artists, a complete set of <i>Das Plakat,</i> set of 10 hardcover volumes, 1912-21. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Javier Gómez Acebo & Máximo Viejo Santamarta, <i>San Sebastian / XI Circuitto Automovilista,</i> 1935. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Ephraim Moses Lilien, <i>Berliner Tageblatt,</i> circa 1899. $12,000 to $18,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions