The William Reese Company has published a catalogue of Science & Technology. This is their 374th catalogue but they point out it is their first devoted to science and technology. It's never too late. There is everything here from groundbreaking discoveries to quack “science.” In an age when science and logic is being challenged by all sorts of strange conspiracy theories, it is good to be reminded of how far we have advanced because so many followed the lessons of real science. Here are a few selections from this first catalogue for Reese.
We have seen Presidents who seem to ignore science. Here is one who did not. John Quincy Adams was a man of keen mind and reason, not easily fooled. In this letter dated April 5, 1839, former President and current Congressman John Quincy Adams discusses phrenology. Phrenology is a pseudoscience that claims you can tell someone's personality traits based on the contours and bumps on that individual's head. That was because certain places in the brain under those features supposedly were the places that determined those traits. While it all seems crazy now, it was taken quite seriously in Adams' time. In this letter to Dr. Thomas Sewall, who also disbelieved the claims of phrenologists, Adams writes of phrenology, “I have classed it with Alchemy, with judicial Astrology, with Augury – and as Cicero says that he wonders how two Roman Augurs could ever look at each other in the face without laughing, I have felt something of the same surprize that two learned phrenologists can meet without the like temptation.” Item 1. Priced at $6,500.
Now we have some real science and an invention that caught on with the public both instantly and with greater interest than just about anything else. This book gave the public its first real look at photography. The title is Historique et Description des Procédés du Daguerréotype at du Diorama, par Daguerre. This is a description of the photographic process developed by Louis-Jacques Daguerre – daguerreotype. This is a first edition, first issue, second imprint from September 1839, which coincided with making the first daguerreotype cameras available to the public. There would be 40 versions of this book published by the end of 1840. Daguerre was not alone in developing photography in the 1820s and 1830s, and his book also describes the process developed by Niepce, but Daguerre was the one who took photography from the lab and made it of practical use. His process would remain the commercially viable one for making photographs until the 1850s. Item 35. $32,500.
Here is an archive concerning the early days of another momentous invention. While several people were working on this technology too, the first to be able to commercialize the telephone was Alexander Graham Bell. It was on March 10, 1876, that Bell uttered his famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here.” Item 10 consists of an extensive archive of service reports and other data from 1877-1882. It belonged to George C. Maynard, an electrician and employee of the Bell Telephone Co. of Washington D.C. That company was formed in July 1877. They quickly set about providing direct connections between various locations in the city. Reports of connections to several government offices are found here along with lines connecting Bell's house with his lab and the Bell telephone office. $15,000.
This is a truly amazing photograph. It is 17 feet long, to be precise 19 3/4” x 204”. It is a very obscure photo by Charles F. and Gabriel Allen, not exactly household names. It was taken at the 1939 New York World's Fair. The site was the Lagoon of Nations in the International Government Zone. What the Allens have done is take a 360 degree picture from their vantage point. This is not a series of photos tacked together but one enormously long picture. Printed on the photograph is the message, “This is the largest direct photograph ever made!” Who am I to dispute that claim? It continues, “It is not an enlarged or pieced picture, but an actual negative size.” It also notes that the Allens have specialized in panoramic photography since 1892. Reese says that not a lot is known about the Allens but that the Library of Congress does hold six of their panoramas dated 1919-1935. They were unable to find any other copies of this photo or even any mention of it. Item 78. $4,500.
Item 72 contains three short typescripts from 1983 by Timothy Leary, the Harvard professor cum psychedelic drug advocate. One contains an outline and cast of characters for The Personal Brain (or the Brain Wave) a Novel. Another is The Care and Use of the Personal Brain According [to] the Instructions of the Manufacturers. It is a proposal for a video tape, “like J. Fonda's - except for the Brain!” The third is a manual for How to Increase Your Intelligence...” They were sent to Alan V. S. who someone noted on here was Leary's agent. This all had something to do with Leary's theories about the relationship of the brain with computers and such. Hopefully, Alan V. S. understood Leary a little better than I. Sometimes I wonder whether Leary did a bit too much turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. $1,650.