Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2018 Issue

Rare American Imprints from David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books

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Catalogue 158 from David Lesser.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has released their Catalogue No. 158 Rare Americana. It follows their usual format – shorter form items (pamphlets, broadsides, prints, etc.) from or relating to America, overwhelmingly from late colonial times to Reconstruction. There is much in the way of political material, some ecclesiastical, some personal, and whatever else was on Americans' minds at the time. These catalogues are always filled with interesting works, even though many are cringe worthy now. Here are a few from this latest edition.

 

We begin with the origins of Dixie, not the land, but the song. The song was first published in 1860, an eventful year both north and south. The writer was Daniel Decatur Emmet, though on this first edition he is named simply Dan D. Emmet. The title isn't Dixie either. It is I Wish I Was in Dixie's Land. The title of the sheet music continues, Written & Composed for Bryant's Minstrels by Dan D. Emmet. Bryant's Minstrels was a blackface group, those being popular in the South, and in the North as well in those days. However, despite the timing, it was not produced for the Rebellion, but for the show. Nevertheless, it quickly gained popularity on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. For the South, it became sort of the Confederate anthem, sung regularly by their troops. Even Abe Lincoln liked the song very much. Here is one more thing I never knew about Dixie. The South was not known as "Dixie" by many people then. It was the song that gave it its familiar name, not the other way around. One more thing – Emmet was from Ohio and wrote the song while in New York City. Item 64. Priced at $950.

 

Back in the 19th century, before Twitter, it was much more difficult to carry on your personal battles in public. Francis Edmonds had to go to a printer to make his self-defense known. So here is his rebuttal to charges that he used his position as a bank teller to make some unauthorized withdrawals: Defence of Francis W. Edmonds, Late Cashier of the Mechanics' Bank, Against the Charges Preferred Against Him by Its President and Assistant Cashier. Edmonds claims that he was "driven" from the bank by the aforementioned two individuals "with imputations upon my integrity." Undoubtedly there were, but from hindsight, and this all happened in 1855, it is hard to tell who was right. The charges were that Edmonds "caused large defalcations," and used "bank funds for his own personal advantage." These false charges, Edmonds explains, were "mere vague rumors," based on "bad feeling, mental delusion or self-interest." And perhaps some missing cash? Item 58. $225.

 

When you think of Currier & Ives, you probably think of quaint prints of America, sort of the 19th century Norman Rockwell. I never would have imagined anything ugly from them, but here is one of a series of awful, racist prints. They put out a run of prints in the 1880s, the Darktown series. These prints displayed black Americans in demeaning poses, ridiculing their intelligence. The Currier & Ives website describes them as more "in a light hearted vein, and not in an overly malicious one." It is true you need to judge people by their times, but the constant ridicule, and this is extreme, is hard to understand. Item 44 is The Darktown Fire Brigade – Hook and Ladder Gymnastics. It displays a group of black firemen who clearly have no idea how to put out a fire. A couple of them aim their hoses up in the air. Two firemen desperately try to hold onto a swaying ladder, a woman on top holding on for dear life. A third man stands by to catch her. Another holds a harpoon, ready to spear her if necessary. Two other firemen are busy blowing trumpets, while the house fire rages on. A woman upstairs desperately calls for help. Item 44. $450.

 

Item 11 is a land promotion, for Tierra Perfecta, or "Perfect Land" of the Mission Fathers. Lower California, the Peninsula, Now Open to Colonists. It was published by the International Land Company of Mexico in 1887. They were selling "fertile land" in the "northern or upper peninsula of Lower California." That would be Baja. Illustrations depict orange groves, bananas, and olive trees. I find it surprising that Mexico allowed such a promotion. They were seeking American settlers? Didn't they learn anything from Texas? $500.

 

Item 15 is a printed Letter from General C. F. Henningsen, in Reply to the Letter of Victor Hugo on the Harper's Ferry Invasion, with an Extract from the Letter of the Rev. Nathan Lord, D. D., President of Dartmouth College... from 1860. Hugo had a letter published in London in which he praised John Brown's unsuccessful attempt to liberate weaponry from Harper's Ferry to support a slave revolt. Hugo called Brown a "liberator" and "champion of Christ," who was performing a "sacred duty." These words did not sit well with Henningsen, who would soon be commanding Confederate troops. In words later repeated in images by Currier & Ives, he writes, "the negro race has a different, and, in some respects, inferior mental organization, certainly, to the Caucasian race, and probably to every other, and that he is wanting in natural capacity for freedom." Despite efforts to civilize him, he is "what they found him – a barbarian, a savage, or a slave." As for Dartmouth President Lord, a true northern man with southern principles, he predicts, "slaves will yet be called for in New England, and by New England men." $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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