Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2010 Issue

Almanacs, Atlases and City Guides from the George S. MacManus Company

Macmanus405

Almanacs, atlases and city directories from the George S. MacManus Company.


By Michael Stillman

The George S. MacManus Company has published a new catalogue of Americana Featuring Almanacs, Atlases, Directories, Gazetteers and Guides. There is a particularly large group of city and town directories and guides from the 19th century. These were the books that told you who lived in a city and where, what the businesses were, and how to get around. They mostly disappeared or lost their importance in the 20th century, probably replaced when the invention of the telephone brought about telephone books and yellow pages to take over their role. However, the guides tended to be more informative about their towns and cities and today offer a look at the details of a location during their era.

Item 333 is Thomas Stephen's directory of Philadelphia from long ago: Stephen's Philadelphia Directory, for 1796. Along with detailed information about the city and its residents and locations, it contains information about organizations such as the Public Library and Humane Society, and one that is no longer necessary, the Abolition Society. Among the many forgotten residents of the city in 1796 is one we all remember, "Washington George, President of the United States, 190, High Street." This was before the city that bears Washington's name was built, and the then President lived in modest housing compared to today's White House, which he rented from Robert Morris. It would also serve as John Adams' "White House," but it was torn down early in the 19th century and no one knows exactly what it looked like. Priced at $4,500. Item 334 is another copy, priced at $1,500.

The nation's capital had long since moved south when Rae's Philadelphia Pictorial Directory & Panoramic Advertiser was published in 1851. This rare item was one of the most impressive of directories to be published. Author Julio Rae devised a new advertising plan. He provided a panorama display of the buildings on eight blocks of Chestnut Street, both sides, in downtown Philadelphia. Text was provided with the illustrations of all those who advertised in the directory. Among the merchants to be found were jewelers, tailors, grocers, druggists, picture framers, daguerreotypists, Welch's National Circus and Theater, and P.T. Barnum's museum. The latter would be destroyed by fire later that year. Rae intended to publish new editions of his fabulous directory annually, as well as preparing one for Market Street. However, the undertaking was apparently a bit too ambitious as no others were produced. Item 324. $5,000.

Item 14 is a copy of Poor Richard Improved, though evidently not enough, Benjamin Franklin's almanac for 1749. This was the first printed by Franklin's partner David Hall, and Franklin discovered a couple of egregious printing errors. In the 1750 edition, speaking of this issue, he wrote, "This was Mr. Printer's Fault; who being also somewhat niggardly of his Vowels, as well as profuse of his Consonants, put in one Place, among the Poetry, mad, instead of made, and in another wrapp'd, instead of warp'd; to the utter demolishing of all Sense in those Lines, leaving nothing standing but the Rhime." $12,500.

Not to take anything away from its importance today, but in 1819 Cincinnati was likely America's most important inland city. In the days when travel and trade was mainly accomplished by river, its location on the Ohio was of great importance. Item 277 is the first Cincinnati directory, Cincinnati Directory, Containing the Names, Profession and Occupation of the Inhabitants of the Town, Alphabetically Arranged... It contains details about its residents and businesses, their locations, trade, foundries, and the steamboats and canals in the area. A map illustrates the city blocks. $3,000. Item 278 is another copy, $2,250.

Item 52 is the 1908 Atlas of the Rural Country District North of New York City Embracing the Entire Westchester County, New York. Also a Portion of Connecticut. Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Wilton and Ridgefield... These are hardly rural communities today. Rather, they are some of the most expensive suburban communities in America. $1,250.

The George S. MacManus Co. may be reached at 610-520-7273 or books@macmanus-rarebooks.com. Their website is www.macmanus-rarebooks.com.

You will find many of the George S. MacManus Company's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

Rare Book Monthly

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    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest Hemingway's Typewriter Used to Write "A Moveable Feast", Impeccable Provenance From His Biographer A. E. Hotchner. $50,000 to $100,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Samuel Colt, "The Gun that Won the West": 3 Signed Patent Items for "Revolving Cylinder Guns". $40,000 to $50,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Jack Kerouac's Own Typewriter From His Estate Used to Write His Very Last Book. $18,000 to $20,000.
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    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Rare Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence Printed in 1848. $15,000 to $18,000.
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    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Wounded Knee Massacre Same Day Eyewitness Account by Participant, "the 7th needn't be ashamed of today's record". $10,000 to $12,000.
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    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> F. Scott Fitzgerald Signed Gordon Bryant Portrait -- Finest Known. $8,000 to $9,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Neil Armstrong ALS on NASA Letterhead Regarding His X-15 Flights. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> M. Gandhi Letter: "the life span of human beings is preordained..." -- Fantastic Spiritual Content. $7,000 to $8,000.
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    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> "Damn the torpedoes!" Riveting 24pp ALS of Admiral Farragut's Steward Describing the "Battle of Mobile Bay”. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Abraham Lincoln Signed Order to Suspend Execution. $5,000 to $6,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Napoleon DS Featuring Imperial Eagle and Enormous Great Seal Appointing Norman Politician Baron of the Empire. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
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