Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2009 Issue

Literature and Americana from James Cummins Bookseller

Literature and Americana from James Cummins Booksller.


By Michael Stillman

James Cummins Bookseller recently published Catalogue 101. This selection of 280 items is divided into three segments: 20th Century Literature, 18th and 19th Century Literature, and Americana. This includes many items from names you know well, particularly among the literary works, with a few that are obscure, but perhaps witnessed important events. Here are a few of the 280 items we found in this new catalogue.

Item 162 describes an invented land, discovered by an imaginary traveler: Amazonian Republic, Recently Discovered in the Interior of Peru, by Ex-Midshipman Timothy Savage. This work by an unknown author was published in 1842, and has been described by some as the first American feminist fantasy. The book starts out as if it might be real, with "Savage" traveling from Lima inland, where he is captured by Indians, then rescued by the "Amazons." His strong rescuers are, naturally, women, based on earlier serious beliefs of Amazon tribes headed by large, powerful women. As the book develops in its description of the government of the Amazons, it becomes clear that it is a satire of governmental institutions in the United States. $800.

Here is a book by a strong woman who was also quite real: Mae West. West was not a natural beauty, but created such a sexy image that no one noticed. To generate such a role for herself onscreen, she wrote a script in which to feature her charms. It first appeared, with her in the leading role, on Broadway. She then converted the playscript into a novel, Diamond Lil. A Powerful New Novel of the Underworld. This is that novel, published to go along with the film, renamed She Done Him Wrong, which featured West, Cary Grant, and Noah Beery. It was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture in 1932. Item 70. $750.

Item 167 is an archive of over 40 letters from Harriet Beecher Stowe's daughter, Georgiana "Georgie" Stowe Allen to her husband, Rev. Henry Freeman Allen. Georgie was playful and mischievous, but also subject to mood swings and depression. She is said to be part of the inspiration for her mother's character of Topsy. Perhaps she, too, grew like Topsy. She ended up having a very difficult life, becoming addicted to morphine after receiving it during childbirth, and never was able to overcome her addiction. She died as an invalid at the age of 44, her mother by her side. These letters were written to her husband over two decades, at times when he was away, and they reflect both the excitable and darker sides of her life. They also contain numerous references to her famous mother. $3,000.

The first issue is generally the most desirable, but here is a last issue that is perhaps the most notable of all. Harriet Beecher Stowe would certainly have appreciated this moment. It is the last issue of William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator. Garrison was the fiery abolitionist who spent decades agitating for an end to slavery. He began publishing his journal in 1831, and it would make him one of the most hated men in the South. That didn't bother Garrison, who continued publishing it for the next 35 years. However, by December 29, 1865, when this last edition was published, it was needed no more. Slavery had been abolished, and the Civil War won. Liberation was achieved. Garrison signs off with a "farewell" written by African-American abolitionist William Cooper Nell, along with his own valedictory, and a discussion of the pending constitutional amendment which would outlaw the evil institution once and for all. Item 222. $1,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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