Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2006 Issue

African Americana from Between The Covers Rare Books

Catalog120

African Americana from Between The Covers Rare Books


By Michael Stillman

Between The Covers Rare Books'
latest catalogue is one of African American History and Literature. This one is a bit different from most in the field we encounter. Typically, the focus in African Americana is slavery, abolition, and the Civil War. This catalogue more or less picks up after the point these others conclude. One notable shift with this primarily post-Civil War material is that most of it is actually written by Black authors. The earlier works tend more to be about African Americans, some sympathetic abolitionists, others slavery apologists, but mostly white. In the post-Civil War era, we start to see more African Americans getting their own works published. What's more, we start to see works that are not just related to race and racial issues, but books in the fields of literature, art, music, science, poetry, and religion. Nevertheless, issues relating to race remain a dominant theme, as America still struggles to reach its ideal of being colorblind. Here are a few samples from this new catalogue.

The pervasive racial discrimination of the 19th century made professional advancement for Blacks almost impossible. Lewis Latimer was a remarkable exception. The son of a runaway slave, Latimer served in the Navy during the Civil War despite being underage, and then returned to his native Massachusetts to land a job with some patent lawyers. He studied drafting, which led to his producing the patent drawings for Alexander Graham Bell's telephone. He would later parlay his drafting skills into inventions, including the carbon filaments used in light bulbs and a toilet for railroad cars. In 1884, he went to work for Thomas Edison, and became one of the latter's 28 "Edison Pioneers." In 1890, with Edison's encouragement, Latimer and co-authors C.J. Field and John Howell published Incandescent Lighting, a book designed to explain this amazing new invention to the uninitiated. Item 2 is a copy of this scarce book. Priced at $3,500.

Frederick Douglass was the preeminent Black civil right leader of the 19th century. Born into slavery, he escaped at age 20 in 1838, settling in upstate New York. Douglass began attending abolitionist meetings, and became a protege of William Lloyd Garrison. At the age of 23, he was asked to speak at one of these meetings, and what the audience discovered was a spellbinding voice. He became an important speaker and author, his autobiography of his life as a slave becoming an immediate best seller. Douglass would go on to advise President Lincoln on affairs relating to the recently emancipated slaves, and he would continue as an important voice on black and women's rights issues until he died in 1895. Item 27, published in 1897, is In Memoriam Frederick Douglass. It includes a biographical sketch of Douglass and numerous tributes from a who's who list of civil rights activists of the 19th century. $800.

Louis Vaughn Jones was an accomplished African-American violinist who was asked to play at President Franklin Roosevelt's first inauguration. In 1931, he inscribed this photograph of himself to another black violinist, Joseph Douglass. "To Mr. Joseph Douglas," it reads, "One who has been a pioneer and an inspiration to this generation of Negro violinists." Joseph Douglass was the grandson of the aforementioned Frederick Douglass. Item 70. $500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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