Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2019 Issue

Rare Americana from David M. Lesser Antiquarian Books

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Rare Americana.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has issued their Catalogue 165 of Rare Americana. You can add to that a few British items. The material is overwhelmingly 18th and 19th century, although that is excepted by a 1963 unfathomable letter from the great boxer, Archie Moore. If you think it is unfathomable because Moore was a punch-drunk fighter, the problem is that it contains ancient Greek and current references that are too complicated for most to follow. Here, now, are a few of the older items to be found in this latest Lesser catalogue.

 

We hear of a lot of "firsts" for women these days as long overdue gender equality pushes forward. Here is a long ago first for a woman, but it is unlikely that Bathsheba Spooner wanted this honor. Mrs. Spooner was the first woman to be executed in America after the nation declared its independence in 1776. Bathsheba was the daughter of a prominent judge and lawyer who married Joshua Spooner in 1766. He was a man of means, but not excitement, and Mrs. Spooner wanted to live well, both financially and psychologically. At the time of the revolution, the Spooners came to know a young soldier, Ezra Ross, a handsome young man, not yet 18, many years her junior. The two became involved, Mrs. Spooner became pregnant, and she decided she wanted to be rid of Mr. Spooner. She convinced two escaped British prisoners of war along with Ross to do away with Mr. Spooner. That they did, and dumped his body in the Spooner well. It took about a day for authorities to discover the crime and gain confessions from the two escaped prisoners. A trial was held, all four convicted, and all sentenced to death. Bathsheba attempted to delay her execution because of her pregnancy but to no avail. The four were hanged together in Worcester, Massachusetts, on July 2, 1778, before a crowd of 5,000. Item 51 is a requiem for Mr. Spooner, A Sermon Preached at Brookfield March 6, 1778. On the day of the Interment of Mr. Joshua Spooner, Who Was Most Barbarously Murdered at His Own Gate...by Three Ruffians, Who Were Hired for the Purpose by His Wife, by Nathan Fiske. Rev. Fiske pulled no punches. Speaking over the "mangled remains" of Mr. Spooner, he said, "So premeditated, so aggravated, so horrid a murder was never perpetrated in AMERICA and is almost without parallel in the known world." Priced at $2,750.

 

Here is another interspousal murder trial from Massachusetts, though this one had a more favorable outcome for the defendant. The accused was the High Sheriff of Hancock County, Massachusetts (now part of the state of Maine). Moses Adams was not only the sheriff, but a respected physician in the town of Ellsworth. On May 12, 1815, Mrs. Adams' daughter, on returning from school, discovered her body. She had been brutally murdered with an axe, her jugular vein severed, her neck broken, a mortal wound on the back of her head. Dr. Adams was quickly arrested, based on testimony of several neighbors and friends as to his movements between the time his wife was last seen alive and the discovery of her body. He was placed on trial, which was described in this pamphlet, The Trial of Moses Adams, High-sheriff of the County of Hancock, before the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on an Indictment for the Murder of his Wife from Minutes taken at the Trial by John Bulfinch. This is a second edition, from 1815. While some of the evidence may have tended to implicate Dr. Adams, it was not sufficiently conclusive to convict. Adams was acquitted. Apparently the townsfolk weren't convinced of his innocence and Adams moved away from Ellsworth to a more rural setting. Item 1. $650.

 

General George Armstrong Custer was noted primarily as an Indian fighter, a rather vain man whose overconfidence led to the Indians famously exacting their revenge. Less well known is that in the brief interregnum between his Civil War service and that in the West, Custer dabbled in politics. He considered running for office, but did not. However, in 1866, he accompanied President Andrew Johnson on a tour designed to support the President's plans for the South. It was essentially an all is forgiven position that did little to protect the former slaves. Item 41 is a broadside, from August 19, 1866, headed To the Soldiers and Sailors who Served in the Army and Navy of the United States During the Late Rebellion. It contains a list of over 200 veterans who approved it, including some other notables such as General Crook and Daniel Sickles, but it is Custer's name that leads the list. The broadside calls for full restoration of rights to the South, claiming, "The intention of Congress seems to be to deprive them of representation just so long as it suits the purpose of the Radical party." It called for a meeting of like-minded veterans in Cleveland. That led to the Soldiers and Sailors Union, a Democratic leaning Civil War veterans' group to compete with the larger, Republican leaning Grand Army of the Republic. Custer was named its head. It also had support from Confederate veterans, but never reached anything like the support of the GAR in the North. Some speculated that Custer's participation was based more on hoping for a promotion from President Johnson, but such was not forthcoming. $4,500.

 

Item 87 is the 1898 album volume (only) of photographs from an area very much in the news today. The title is Report from the Boundary Commission upon the Survey and Re-Marking of the Boundary Between the United States and Mexico West of the Rio Grande. The Boundary Commission was set up in 1882 to resurvey the U. S.-Mexican border from El Paso to San Diego. Two hundred fifty-eight monuments were constructed between 1891 and 1896. The photographs show these monuments and scenery along the border in the 1890s. I don't know whether Mexico paid for the monuments. $1,250.

 

Samuel Johnson is noted for creating the first comprehensive dictionary and for being a great wit, at least in the eyes of James Boswell. However, it is doubtful whether either of these made him very popular in America during his time. Item 64 is a scathing attack on the American colonists he published shortly before the American Revolution. The title is Taxation is No Tyranny; an Answer to the Resolutions and Address of the American Congress. This is a third edition from 1775. Of course, Americans know Johnson was wrong. Taxation is always tyranny. Johnson ridiculed the colonists, who he said "fled from tyranny to rocks and deserts" who "are now invaded by unprecedented oppression, and plundered of their properties by the harpies of taxation." Well, yes, we were. $1,500.

 

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, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, <i>El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha . . . Nueva Edición,</i> first Ibarra edition, Madrid, 1780. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Prayer Book in Latin and French, France, 1530-40s. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin, France, mid-15th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b><br><i>Die Ernsthaffte Christenpflicht,</i> earliest known edition of the first complete Mennonite prayer book, 1708. $300 to $500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Georg Agricola, <i>De ortu & causis subterraneorum Lib V.,</i> first edition, Basel, 1546. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Frederick Ruysch, <i>Icon durae matris in concava [convexa] superficie visae,</i> with 2 mezzotints by Jan Ladmiral, first edition, Amsterdam, 1737. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, <i>Eine Neue Art von Strahlen,</i> Würzburg, 1895. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pietro Carrera, <i>Il Gioco de gli Scacchi,</i> first edition, Militello, 1617. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> William Lithgow, <i>The Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures</i> [etc.], London, 1632. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Michel de Nostradamus, <i>The True Prophecies or Prognostications,</i> first complete edition in English, London, 1672. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pseudo-Methodius, <i>De revelatione facta . . . beato Methodio,</i> Basel, 1504. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Hrabanus Maurus, <i>De laudibus sancte crucis opus,</i> Pforzheim, 1503. $1,000 to $2,000.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000
  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000

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