Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2006 Issue

Signed Documents from Stuart Lutz

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Attention K-Mart shoppers. Item 117 is a group of three letters from 1916-1918 signed by Sebastian Kresge, better known simply as S.S. Kresge. S.S. Kresge was not only his name, but the name of the 5 and 10 cent stores he founded that once anchored the downtowns of communities all across the country. The five and dime was one of the most popular forms of retailing during the first half of the 20th century. They were variety stores, selling all types of inexpensive merchandise. Along with Kresge there were many familiar names, such as W.T. Grant, Woolworth's, S.H. Kress and J.J. Newberry. Alas, the format lost favor with the advent of discount stores. These venerable old names disappeared from the landscape. No problem for Kresge's. They morphed into Kmart, and became the nation's largest retailer. Eventually, even Kmart failed, went into bankruptcy, and then merged with Sears, another old, one-time dominant retailer, where together they dream of what they once were -- yesterday's Wal-Mart. But, back to Mr. Kresge, who never had such problems. He was a strong prohibitionist, and contributed his time, money, and prestige to the cause. These letters, written to Pennsylvania Governor Martin Grove Brumbaugh, firmly support the prohibitionist view. "I take the same stand that W.A. [evangelist Billy] Sunday does and that is I will give my best efforts and will not give up the fight until the liquor business is entirely wiped out..." Kresge would live to see his dream come true with enactment of Prohibition in 1920. He would also live to see Prohibition repealed in 1933, and many more things, as he lived to age 99 in 1966. $750.

Stuart Lutz Historic Documents may be found online at www.HistoryDocs.com, telephone 973-275-9699.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Adam Smith, <i>Wealth of Nations,</i> first edition, descended from William Alexander, London, 1776. $70,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> George Gershwin, photograph signed & inscribed with autograph musical quotation, <i>An American in Paris,</i> 1928. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Friedrich Engels, <i>The Condition of the Working Class in England,</i> first edition, NY, 1887. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> <i>Bury St. Edmunds Witch Trials,</i> first edition, London, 1682. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Robert Rey, <i>Estampes,</i> complete portfolio of 12 wood engravings, Paris, 1950. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Archive of 47 letters by Enrico Caruso to a lady friend, 1906-20. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Books of Hours in Flemish, Netherlands, 15th century. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Jack Kerouac, <i>Doctor Sax,</i> deluxe limited edition, signed, NY, 1959. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Walt Disney, signature on title-page of Ward Greene’s <i>Lady and the Tramp,</i> first edition, first printing. $3,000 to $4,000.

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