Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2017 Issue

Rare Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books

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Rare Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their latest catalogue. The title is Rare Americana. A Catalogue of Significant and Unusual Imprints Relating to America. Actually, that's the title of every Lesser catalogue. Fortunately it also has a number, Catalogue 154, to distinguish one from another. But, David Lesser is a specialist in rare Americana, usually pamphlets, broadsides, and manuscripts, with a few full-size books in the mix. No wonder the same title makes sense for each issue. However, the material inside always changes. Here are a few selections from this latest collection.

 

We start with a significant piece for any collection focused on women's rights. Item 76 is Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel, by Rev. Luther Lee. It is not so much Lee or his speech that is notable, but the circumstances. It was preached on September 15, 1853, and the occasion was the first ordination of a woman minister in any mainstream American church. The ordination was that of Rev. Antoinette L. Brown, who would lead the Congregational Church in South Butler, New York. Not terribly surprising, Miss Brown was a strong advocate of women's rights, along with abolition, temperance, and such. She was allowed to receive an education in theology at Oberlin College, though they would not give her an official degree qualifying her for the ministry. She would begin speaking for women's rights and in 1850, attended the first National Women's Rights Convention, along with her future sister-in-law, the better known Lucy Stone. However, she dropped her speaking tours when given the chance, with the assistance of Rev. Lee, to become an ordained minister. Unfortunately, it was difficult for a woman to make much of a go of it in the ministerial profession in 1853, so within a few years, she was back to preaching women's rights instead, got married and had seven children, and later turned to writing rather than speaking. Her views weren't entirely aligned with the suffrage movement, explaining why she is not as well known, though she continued to devote much of her time to advocacy of the cause. Antoinette Brown Blackwell (her married name) lived to see the passage of the voting rights amendment in 1920. She was 95 years old and the only participant in the 1850 convention to live to see that accomplishment. Priced at $1,250.

 

Item 2 is a long and remarkable letter from Georgia Congressman Warren Akin from July 2, 1864, to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Union General Sherman's March to the Sea was still a couple of months off, but Akin could see it coming. He also could foresee the result, and it was a dark picture for the Confederacy. He warns Davis that Gen. Joseph Johnston has virtually no chance of repelling Sherman, that the latter will roll into Atlanta, and despite the Confederacy's best attempts to defend the city, it will inevitably fall. He also warns that if this happens, the public will blame Davis, not Johnston, because the people will realize his position was hopeless, that Davis did not give him sufficient support. The part about no one blaming Johnston was not entirely true, but the rest was. Akin did have a plan to avoid this otherwise inevitable fate. That was to transfer troops from elsewhere to assist in Atlanta's defense. He suggests moving troops from Mississippi, saying it would be better to let Mississippi fall than Atlanta. Perhaps his being from Georgia colored Akin's opinion on what to defend. Akin concludes with a bit of a psychological ploy. He tells Davis people believe he has it in for Gen. Johnston, and that his failure to support Johnston would be interpreted as motivated by Davis' wishing to deny Johnston a victory, even at the Confederacy's expense. Ouch. $2,500.

 

Samuel Stanhope Smith was an accomplished and interesting man, a Presbyterian minister, college professor, later President of Princeton University. He combined both traditional and more enlightened ideas. In 1787, he published this book, Essay on the Causes of Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species. It is focused on the African race, primarily slaves in America, but in it you can almost see some precursors to Darwin. Smith saw differences in pigmentation among field slaves and domestic ones as part of progressive minor changes within beings, a form of evolution. However, rather than seeing it as a result of natural selection, he thought it was the result of an interaction with their environment. And in this case it probably was, either domestics being out in the sun less, or greater forced interaction of indoor slave women and their masters resulting in lighter skinned children. Item 117. $1,500.

 

One might say Abraham Lincoln talked his way into the presidency. He was an eloquent speaker, whose fame quickly spread after the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Two years later, he was elected president. Item 80 is a Speech of Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Delivered in Springfield, Saturday Evening, July 17, 1858. That was about a month before the first of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. In this, Lincoln repeated his recent "House Divided" warning, that the nation would one day be either all free or all slave, but could not forever be half and half. He urged stopping its spread to new states, putting it on a course toward its ultimate extinction. Douglas, a proponent of letting each state decide for itself, was clearly a target of this claim. Lincoln also stated that while blacks are not equal to whites "in all respects," the principles of the Declaration of Independence do declare that they have equal rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and "the right to put into his mouth the bread that his own hands have earned." This copy was signed by Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, Lincoln's last surviving direct descendant. Beckwith, Lincoln's great-grandson, died in 1985. $4,000.

 

Here is a bizarre broadside from Southington, Connecticut, from 1834. It is headed, Awful Tribunal. Never Before Has It Fallen to Our Lot to Picture to Our Fellow-Men the Decisions of His Satanic Majesty... The author is identified as "Young Nick," and the action takes place in the High Court of Vengeance, presided over by His Satanic Majesty. The participants include Sweet Romeo, Great High Priest, Little Wheel George, and Big Bug Merchant. The court is held in the basement of the Southington Presbyterian Church. Little Wheel George is sentenced to row in a nearby canal with an apple tree, Sweet Romeo to be "steeped down in phosphorous 86 years, and at the expiration of that time, you be devoured alive by fleas, if they will eat you." One must presume this is a satire and that the characters represent real people, but what the events being satirized were, or who was the author, and was he clever or crazy, is probably lost to history. Its meaning is unknown. Item 100. $500.

 

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.com. Their website is www.lesserbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.

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