Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2007 Issue

Rare and Unusual Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

Lesser95

Catalogue 95 of Rare Americana.


By Michael Stillman

David Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books
has issued their latest edition of Rare Americana -- A Catalogue of Significant and Unusual Imprints Relating to America. Lesser regularly issues collections of mostly obscure and unexpected American material from the 18th and 19th centuries. Most often, the items are of pamphlet length or even simple broadsides, although longer tracts can also be found. A David Lesser catalogue is an excellent place to look for what regular people, perhaps a local politician, clergyman, or newspaper editor, was thinking, as well as the thoughts of presidents and statesmen. It provides a window on early America, and is a great resource for those who seek the unusual within the field. Here are some samples.

We have been able to literally watch America's last few wars on our television sets. Before that, we watched them as newsreels in the movie theater, but how were Americans able to visualize the Civil War? Here is the answer. Item 22 is a broadside announcing Grand Historic Mirror of the American War! ...The Only Work of the Kind in Existence, Sketched by Eyewitnesses, and Painted by the Most Eminent Artists... This was a large, traveling mural, with scenes of various events from the war painted upon it. As new battles unfolded, the artists would add additional sections. The showing advertised in this broadside ran from December 29, 1862 until January 1, 1863 at Philadelphia's Concert Hall. Buy a ticket and you could view the mural plus hear "a patriotic and descriptive lecture." This is TV news circa 1863. Priced at $850.

Edmond Charles Genet, or "Citizen Genet," was appointed French Ambassador to the U.S. in 1793. This was the time of the French Revolution, and France also found itself at war with England and Spain. When Genet came to America, he was welcomed as a hero. France had been America's benefactor in its revolution, and Americans were becoming swept up in the excitement of the revolution in France. However, Genet overplayed his cards. He outfitted a couple of privateering ships to be used against the British and Spanish while on American soil, and when his further demands for assistance were not met by Washington, he threatened to go directly to the American public. Unfortunately for Genet, Washington remained first in the hearts of his countrymen, and Genet soon found his credentials revoked. Meanwhile in France, the revolution turned bloodier, and the new French ambassador delivered Genet with notice to return home. Genet feared the guillotine awaited him in France, so he sought asylum from the American leaders he had battled. It was granted and Genet lived out his many remaining days (he died in 1834) on a New York farm (he married New York Governor George Clinton's daughter, and after her death, the daughter of Postmaster General Samuel Osgood). So what did Citizen Genet do in all of those years? Well one thing he did was to write a book. The title is Memorial on the Upward Forces of Fluids... and it was the first book on practical aeronautics published in America. Genet offers plans for a device that made most people laugh in amusement -- a heavier than air flying machine. The book was published in Albany, across the river from Genet's farm, in 1825. By this time, Citizen Genet was an American citizen. Item 48. $2,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <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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