Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2007 Issue

A Theodore Hittell Collection Offered by Brian Cassidy

A Theodore Hittell Collection from Brian Cassidy, Bookseller.


By Michael Stillman

Brian Cassidy, Bookseller
, recently issued Bulletin Number One, A Theodore Hittell Collection. This is a one-item catalogue, though this one item consists of many different pieces. All are documents and photographs relating to noted California historian and writer Theodore Hittell and his family. Hittell is a well-known figure to California collectors, being one of just two authors to have two books in the quintessential California collector's list, the Zamorano 80. The only other writer with multiple books on this list is one Mark Twain.

Theodore Hittell came to California from Ohio in 1855. His brother John had arrived six years earlier, during the Gold Rush days. He became a journalist, newspaper editor, attorney, and from 1879-1882, a state legislator, representing San Francisco. He was involved in various public-spirited organizations, including the Sierra Club, of which he was one of its earliest members. Hittell died in 1917, but this collection includes family items as late as 1926.

Of course what Hittell is best remembered for is historical books, two in particular. One is History of California, a work that took him 26 years to complete. It is regarded as one of the best histories of the Golden State ever written, and is partly based on sources that were lost in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. If this was his most scholarly work, his other notable book is the one that worked its way deeper into popular culture: The Adventures of James Capen Adams, Mountaineer and Grizzly Bear Hunter, of California. Adams was an adventurer who captured and befriended (to what ever extent it is possible to befriend a bear) several grizzlies from the backwoods of California. He would perform with them, even wrestle with his bears, who were usually quite kind in return. Near the end of his life in 1860, Adams toured with P.T. Barnum. James (or sometimes "John") Adams is better known today as the inspiration for Grizzly Adams, star of a 1970s movie and popular television series. Hittell interviewed Adams, who was perhaps at times given to tall tales, many times for his newspaper, stories which evolved into this classic book.

Among the Hittell items in this collection are:

A two-page manuscript describing Hittell's arrival in San Francisco. The appearance discouraged him at first, until he came around Telegraph Hill and saw the city's center.

A letter to his wife while on a hunting trip in 1868.

A manuscript of an apparently unpublished song, The Pioneers.

A typescript of a poem called The Nature-Worshipers.

A letter from California writer/explorer Charles Lummis to Hittell's son Carlos (Charles), himself a western artist, on his wedding.

A duplicate (marked "COPY") of a letter from famed journalist Lincoln Steffens to Carlos and his brother Frank on the death of their sister in 1925.

Several photographs of Hittell and various personal, legal and business correspondence.

The entire collection is priced at $9,500.

Brian Cassidy, Bookseller, may be found online at www.briancassidy.net, telephone 831-656-9264.

Rare Book Monthly

  • 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.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

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