Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2004 Issue

19th Century Shop Offers Selections<br>From New York Antiques Show

19thcover[1]

19th Century Shop catalogue with 1851 view of Manhattan on the cover.


by Michael Stillman

The 19th Century Shop has issued a catalogue of “Selections from the New York International Antiques Show 2004.” This catalogue includes books, maps, images, and artwork, primarily but not exclusively within the field of Americana.

For those with an interest in American history, the most striking item has to be a broadside headed “A Gang of 101 Negroes!” This is an advertisement for a slave auction, and sadly, such auctions are a not uncommon part of our past. However, what makes this one unusual is the date: December 15, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect almost a year earlier, but either the folks of Macon, Georgia, had not heard or did not take it very seriously. Here were 101 legally free people, mostly grouped in families but a few to be offered singly, being put up for sale. This particular handbill also includes handwritten notations by its possessor of prices realized. Astonishingly, the families were being sold for prices in the thousands of dollars, a very substantial sum of money in those days. Evidently, the people of Macon must still have had great confidence in a Confederate victory, or figured their Confederate dollars would be worthless anyway if the South lost. It would only be another year now before General Sherman would effectively put the final nail into the “peculiar institution” in Georgia. Priced at $75,000.

There can’t be many things more American than a Washington letter. The 19th Century Shop catalogue offers one from that greatest American to his secretary Tobias Lear dated 10 July 1797. Washington discusses a trip to the upper Potomac to view a pet project, a canal to the West. The “West” in those days consisted of today’s Washington suburbs. The former President also speaks of visiting the “Federal City” to check on progress in the development of that new home of the government. Of course we now know that “Federal City” by Washington’s name. $42,000.

Spoken records were rarely big sellers before rap came along, but here’s the cover of such an album that is far more interesting than the album itself. In 1956 the Distinguished Playwright Series issued an album of Arthur Miller speaking about and reading from his works such as the Crucible and Death of a Salesman. On July 1 of that year, Miller married Norma Jean Mortenson Baker, better known as Marilyn Monroe. Miller thoughtfully signed the album cover to the Rabbi who performed the service: “For Bob Goldsberg With my [our] thanks for a beautiful wedding – July 1, 1956.” It was Marilyn who added the “our” to the notation and both signed the cover, the latter as “Mrs. Monroe Miller.” While Miller was a great writer, he was evidently not much of a speller or just plain obtuse since the Rabbi’s name was “Goldberg,” like Molly or the wrestler, not “Goldsberg.” And, while the wedding was “beautiful,” the marriage was not and ended in divorce a few years later. $22,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions