Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2017 Issue

Eighteenth and 19th Century Correspondence from Read 'Em Again Books

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With pen in hand...

Read 'Em Again Books has issued a catalogue with a poetic title, With pen in hand, I sit to write. The subheading explains that title more clearly – A Collection of 18th and 19th Century Correspondence. While Read 'Em Again is a bookseller, this catalogue is devoted mainly to manuscript correspondence. While in the book business, they explain, "most of those who buy from us don't consider themselves to be book collectors even though they may often buy collectible books. Rather...they are thematic collectors – perhaps they collect topics related to their employment, a hobby, an institution, an interest, a region, a historical period, or even their family." It is an evolution in traditional collecting we see more and more today. Read 'Em Again Books is at the forefront of current trends.

 

There is one other point to note about many of these letters. They will also appeal to philatelic collectors. Those who engage in philately will know what that means. For others, it is stamp collecting. Most of these letters come with their original mailing envelopes and stamps. Due to their dates, that means these are early stamps. Undoubtedly, these stamps add to the value, but not knowing philately, I cannot say on each item whether it is a significant or a small part of the overall value. We will note that Read 'Em Again is not only a member of major book organizations, the ABAA and ILAB, but of the American Philatelic Society and the National Stamp Dealers Association. Now, here are a few selections from this collection.

 

We begin with a letter in a rare early advertising envelope for one of today's most famous American companies. It wasn't then. The corporate return address is for Asa G. Candler & Co., Wholesale Druggists in Atlanta Georgia. That name isn't familiar, but they had a proprietary product whose name you will recognize – Coca Cola. The back of the envelope proclaims, "The Brain Tonic and Intellectual Soda Fountain Beverage, Coca-Cola, Recommended by all who have used it." The "Coca-Cola" is in large type, in the familiar script still seen today. Inside, is a four-page letter from "Willie," dated October 5, 1889. Coca Cola was invented by John Pemberton in 1886, replete with its magic ingredient. He sold rights to his tonic to Asa Candler in May, 1889, and the rest is history. Willie writes his letter to "sis," which may be a nickname for his wife, that "Mr. Candler made me an offer of $50 for the month... What do you think of my taking this position?" Take it, Willie! Actually, he already did. The offer was not in the Coke department, but he was put in charge of retail and prescriptions. As to whether Willie's career grew with Candler's success or he moved on we do not know. Item 54. Priced at $3,000.

 

Next we have a letter from Captain "Indian" Van Swearingen from his fort near Wellsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) to his cousin Captain Josiah Swearingen. Van Swearingen fought in the Revolution, and later traded with and fought against Indians. His adventures on the frontier led him to be close friends with the famous, or infamous, younger Indian fighter Samuel Brady. Brady had several family members killed by Indians and devoted his life to exacting revenge. Brady was welcome in Swearingen's house, which led to his eloping with the older man's daughter, Drusilla. All would be forgiven. In 1791, Brady followed some marauding Indians across the border of Pennsylvania. While there, he killed four natives Delaware who were not involved. Brady was tried, but there was no way anyone was going to be convicted of killing Indians, innocent or not, on the frontier. He was acquitted. Van Swearingen's letter refers to these events at the time they were occurring. Writes Swearingen, "I am agoing to give you the late nuse...the Indens latly killd & took seven people 2 mils from my Fort & fore others in the woods... Brady & others 25 folowd or souted after the Savedges – returnd with 4 skilps & a grate quantity of plunder." He goes on to say, "we expect a bludy general Savedg War & Should expect you in the feald if you was as capabl as you was when you was back by Rascall & Macintosh..." Swearingen composed this letter before the invention of spell check. Item 1. $4,500.

 

Going off to school was a bit more of a challenge back in 1849. This young lady was traveling from her home in Deerfield, New Hampshire, to the Ontario Female Seminary in Canandaigua, New York. It's 400 miles away, and according to Google Maps, takes about 6 ½ hours to reach. It took Abby Wells eight days. She left on a Friday, probably December 30, 1848, accompanied by her brother, David, for the first part of the journey. They had to go by stage to Albany, at which point she could pick up a train the rest of the way. She left Milford Friday morning but did not make it to Boxborough until 10:30 at night. Heavy snow fell and the men had to get out of the stage and help clear the way. They spent several days trapped, and once they began moving again, were only able to travel 15 miles in a day. They finally reached Albany Thursday night. David then returned home, and we don't know how long that took, while Abby took the train west Friday morning. The train finally arrived in Canandaigua Saturday morning, 24 hours later. Abby was undaunted. She writes her parents on January 10, "I should not be afraid to return alone if necessary. I did not suffer scarcely any with the cold excepting my feet..." As a postscript, Read 'Em Again tells us Abby later returned to Deerfield, taught in the local school until about the age of 60, did not marry, and died in 1887. The envelope was mailed with a black 10 cent Washington stamp. Item 23. $1,750.

 

When your husband is wounded on a Civil War battlefield hundreds of miles away, it isn't easy to be cheered up, but E. T. Lamerburton made a great effort to amuse his buddy's wife in this December 5, 1862 letter. Lamerburton is handling the correspondence evidently because Augusta's husband was not up to writing. The letter was written from "Camp Vermont" in Virginia to the following address: "This letter is for Augusta Wife of H.W.C.. the Vt. soldier who was shot on Picket near the Po-to-mac Daughter of Capt. King. In keeping of the Doctor. Snow's Store, Vermont." Augusta's husband's friend humorously writes, "You don't seem to answer my letters very well...if you can't do better, jist copy off a verse or two of scripture – or anything else." He then adds, reassuringly, "Your man is doing splendidly. The Surgeon dressed the wound day before yesterday, and said it looked much better than he thought it would." Continuing in a positive vein, he adds, "Our huts are as warm and dry as need be, and we five fellows are having an uproarious time - that is we are happy and jolly." One suspects he is exaggerating to comfort her. While Augusta must not have been much at writing, Lamerburton acknowledges that the cigars and cheese she sent arrived, adding, "...as far as I am concerned, if the girls were only here, soldiering wouldn't be at all hard to take." Item 37. $300.

 

J. N. Embres had concerns other than the mere risk of the loss of a spouse during the Civil War. He was worried about the loss of slaves. Embres wrote to Josiah Nichols in Washington, Arkansas, on January 25, 1864. He writes of "...2 Negro Boys that were stolen from Maj. John Easton & a girl from Mrs. Williams." He continues, "The thieves are about here & I have no doubt the negroes will all be lost." He says "the girl is gone now," but the "Boys of Easton are on this side of the River & placed with some woman who is instructed to keep them as her own..." To put this in context, these were not cases of people stealing slaves for their labor. There was evidently an active underground railroad even in Confederate Arkansas at the time. The "River" Embres refers to is the Ouachita, and the fear of the slaves crossing that river was because Union troops controlled the other side. Item 44. $1,500.

 

Read 'Em Again Books may be reached at 703-580-6946 or info@read-em-again.com. Their website is read-em-again.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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

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