Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2006 Issue

Rare and Obscure Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

David Lesser's 94th catalogue of Rare Americana.


By Michael Stillman

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books
has issued their 94th catalogue of Rare Americana. This follows the pattern of most Lesser catalogues - obscure imprints from American colonial times roughly to the era of Reconstruction. The issues of the day, political, religious, moral, economic, and such are discussed by the people of the land from different points of view. These catalogues provide a look into the minds of Americans in the nation's formative years. However, this catalogue is distinguished from previous ones in one way - it is filled new obscurities, items we have not seen before. Lesser's catalogues are a must for Americana collectors, and this is no exception. Here are some samples.

Pre-Civil War politics is a personal favorite, as it's fascinating, with the benefit of hindsight, to watch the country try to avoid the almost inevitable conflagration barreling down upon it. Perhaps the cleverest political strategy during this period was that of Zachary Taylor, who got himself elected by saying nothing about the critical issues of the day. You could attribute to him whatever beliefs you wished. Typifying the General's campaign strategy is this eight-page pamphlet from 1848, Gen. Taylor's Moral, Intellectual, & Professional Character. In it, the writers attest to his "simplicity of manners, his humanity, his indomitable courage, his fearlessness, his firmness and determination, his condescension and familiarity, his vigilance in protecting his soldiers against imposition...his goodness of heart and kind feelings, and his punctuality in correspondence..." We know everything about Zachary Taylor, and yet we know nothing. He is punctual in responding to letters, but where does he stand on the issues? That is just how he wanted it, and it swept him into office. Item 37. Priced at $250.

Here is a family political dispute that managed to find its way into print. It is The Voter's Path to Duty in 1856. A Letter from Professor J.P. Dake, Addressed to C.M. Dake, M.D... Included with it is his brother's reply. Professor Dake was an avid supporter of the Republican candidate, John C. Fremont. He believes the Republicans will hold the line on compromises with the slave power that have been tearing apart the nation's unity. Dr. Dake, on the other hand, supported Millard Fillmore, candidate of the Know-Nothing Party. He argues in this testy exchange that his brother's "Freedom Screechers" threaten the Union. Ultimately, this family argument proved futile, as both of their candidates lost to James Buchanan. Item 32. $500.

Dr. Dake wasn't the only Know-Nothing with disdain for General Fremont. This pro-Fillmore 1856 Know-Nothing pamphlet is titled Fremont's Romanism. The pamphlet claims Fremont is a Roman Catholic, come to rule on behalf of the Church. It gives nineteen evidences that he is a Catholic, such as, "He was seen to dip his hand in holy water and cross himself in a Roman Catholic church." This seems unlikely, but if true, Fremont was probably just trying to get votes from the parishioners. Item 43. $250.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.

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