Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2007 Issue

The American Revolution from William Reese

Reese255

The American Revolution from The William Reese Company.


By Michael Stillman

The redcoats are coming! The William Reese Company takes us back to the beginning of the United States in their 255th catalogue, The American Revolution. Offered is a collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, and artwork (but no photographs) from America's revolutionary era. Items generally run to the troubled days of the late colonial period, late 1760s-early 1770s, to the period shortly after the peace was concluded, in the mid 1780s. This is not easy material to find any more, but Reese has managed to come up with over 200 significant and intriguing items for your consideration. So let the revolution begin.

We will start with the item pictured on the cover. This is a mezzotint of Paul Jones Shooting a Sailor Who Had Attempted to Strike His Colours in an Engagement. This 1779 biting English satire of America's first naval hero, John Paul Jones, is inaccurate, but does display the intensity of British dislike of Jones. The image shows Jones, dressed in an odd costume and funny hat, charging over the bodies of dead and wounded sailors to shoot his chief gunner in the head. Other sailors look on in horror. This is a fantasy based on Jones knocking down a shell-shocked gunner with the butt of his gun when the man repeatedly called for "colours" (surrender). Instead, Jones responded with his famous "I have not yet begun to fight" (or words to that effect). John Paul Jones was a master at harassing the British at sea, leading him to be regarded as a hero in America, but a pirate in Britain. Item 38. $17,500.

Some folks in Boston were already celebrating victory over the British before even the Declaration of Independence was signed. Item 11 is Two favorite Songs, Made on the Evacuation of the Town of Boston, by the British Troops, on the 17th of March, 1776. It celebrates the siege of Boston, where patriots under George Washington chased the British from the city. The other song celebrates the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was an auspicious start for the patriots, who would know more difficult times in the days ahead. "It wasn't our will that Bunker-Hill, / From us should e'er be taken..." Reese notes that the woodcut of Boston is the same as one used to depict the siege of Louisbourg (Nova Scotia) on a 1745 broadside. Item 11. $17,500.

Now for the other side. Episcopalian Minister Samuel Seabury was a most loyal loyalist and vociferous critic of the Revolution. In a series of pamphlets, he attacked the Continental Congress and all who questioned Britain's authority. Item 182 is the second of his pamphlets, The Congress Canvassed... a 1774 attack on the Continental Congress published anonymously under the name "A.W. Farmer" (a Westchester Farmer). At the end, he promises to reply to Alexander Hamilton, who had responded to an earlier Seabury pamphlet. Seabury says he is "neither frightened nor disconcerted by it." This marked the start of a pamphlet war between the two, which only served to establish the reputation of Hamilton, still in his teens at the time. Item 182. $3,250. Three other Seabury pamphlets are also offered.

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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