Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2019 Issue

The Statute of Limitations

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SUNY New Paltz, an image by Valeria Arlanti, March 2014

Even 2,000 years later it’s not easy to be named Pilate and God help you if your first name is Pontius.  Names can become symbols, and when the association is dark, there is a price to pay.  In New Paltz, in Ulster County in New York State where I grew up, historical research on black history has been bringing to light the grim reality for blacks that occurred periodically in and around New Paltz.  The university there, SUNY New Paltz, has, for many years, had buildings on campus that were named for New Paltz’s founding families and it has confirmed that some of these families held slaves and in some cases abused them.  The university recently voted to remove names associated with these findings.

 

It’s complicated.

 

Slavery was part of the economic and social structure of the town into the early 19th century and while abhorrent today, was accepted then.  It was also astoundingly cruel.  Slaves’ lives were briefer and their legal protections as chattel property, close to non-existent.  Their standing seems to have rested on their utility and cash value.

 

So the names of New Paltz’s founding families will come down.  That’s been decided and there are some lessons to be learned.

 

There is no statute of limitations for racial cruelty and little or no consideration given to the morally upright behavior of the ten generations of descendants that have since lived and died in the New Paltz area.  Their family names too are coming down.  But, as the names on the buildings derive from those of the original founders and not their heirs, their connections too will be swept away.

 

I will not think less of the many people I grew up with in New Paltz in the 1950s and ‘60s who were solid then and remain upstanding today.  What happened there 200 hundred years ago was terrible as it was across many of the states in that era.  But what should come of this is reconciliation, perhaps a public reconciliation of sermons and gospels that, for a few hours, would let both sides see that those on the other, perhaps except for their color, are just as human and open to reconciliation as they are.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.

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