Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2008 Issue
Arts, Exploration and More from Wessel and Lieberman Booksellers
By Michael Stillman
Catalogue 39 has arrived from Wessel and Lieberman Booksellers. They describe it as a "general catalogue," since it covers a wide array of topics. However, there are a few areas of particular concentration: works related to art, books focused on the book arts, and travel and exploration. Nevertheless, there is more, with the major unifying feature being that most are recent acquisitions by the booksellers. In other words, you will find something new, even if that something new is old. Here are some of the items in this catalogue number 39.
For high rollers, we'll start with the most expensive (atypically so) item in the catalogue. It is too spectacular to ignore. Item 98 is a 50-year run, volumes 1-50, of The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. These were the first 50 years of this journal's publication, and they encompass virtually every major exploration and discovery of the period 1832-1880. Among the explorers who were supported by the RGS were Shackleton, Stanley, Scott, and Livingstone. Many of the major explorations of Africa, Australia, and the polar regions in particular were conducted during this time. Priced at $35,000.
Item 48 is the first published collection of William Faulkner's short stories, These 13 Stories, published in 1931. This was a limited edition, with seven of the stories being published for the first time. This copy is in exceptional condition and includes the rare dust jacket. $7,500.
Item 83 includes a brief newspaper notice of what would become perhaps the most notable of all American expeditions, that of Lewis and Clark to the Northwest. It is the April 2, 1803, edition of the Boston Columbian Centinel. The brief, page two notice reads, "The private secretary of the President, Mr. LEWIS, is to proceed in a few weeks on political business to the Mississippi country. It is hoped his instructions will permit him to stick rather nearer the truth in his information to the frontier settlers than his precursor John Brown, the Senator, did." Of course what Lewis would soon be commissioned to undertake would go much farther west than the Mississippi. As to Senator Brown's role, I am unclear. He was Kentucky's first senator, and over a decade earlier had been somewhat involved in the Spanish Conspiracy, when Kentucky, then still part of Virginia and struggling to achieve separate statehood, considered declaring its independence and joining Spain. $300.
Item 97 is an 1888 first edition of the account of the American West, Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail. It was written by a man described as "President of the Boone and Crockett Club of New York." A little over a decade later, he would add President of the United States to his collection of presidencies. This was Theodore Roosevelt's account of his time in the Dakotas, a period in which he would develop his great love for the western wilderness and his belief in the importance of preserving it. $9,500.