Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2024 Issue

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books Issues Their Catalogue 202 of Rare Americana

Catalogue 202 from David M. Lesser.

David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has published their Catalogue 202 of Rare Americana. This latest catalogue of Americana includes numerous items from the old country, also known as Great Britain. We share language, history, and many customs so there is a lot in common, but we also share some disagreeable times, such as the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Let bygones be bygones. The items in this catalogue are one to three centuries old, so there is a lot of American history in its pages. Here are a few samples.


No one is more associated with America's successful breaking of its colonial ties with Britain than George Washington. He led America's troops to the Revolution's successful ending of the ties, and then resigned. He went home. This is his first “final” address to the nation, The Last Official Address, of His Excellency General Washington, to the Legislatures of the United States. In it, he announces his “return to that domestic retirement, which, it is well known, I left with greatest reluctance.” Perhaps, but I think Washington appreciated being needed. He then talks about the opportunities for the new nation, and at a time when many advocated for a weak link between the states, Washington favored more than a thin connection. He speaks of creating “an indissoluble union of the States under one foederal head.” Lincoln truly was Washington's successor. As we know, this was hardly Washington's “last official address” to the nation, which he continue to serve until the day he died. Item 118. Priced at $15,000.


Here is what looks like an insignificant dinner invitation from a forgotten president. There's more to it when you place it in its setting. Zachary Taylor is probably best remembered for having eaten too much iced milk on a hot July 4th and dying from it. That's a less-than true legend. Taylor was elected President in 1848 as a Whig. He was a military man, a hero of the Mexican War with no political experience. He had little interest in politics. However, like Washington and Lincoln, he was very much interested in the preservation of the union. The Mexican cession led to the issue of whether the newly acquired territories, California and New Mexico, would be slave or free states. If free, it would upset the balance of free vs. slave states, but those free territories would undoubtedly choose to remain so. Taylor, a southerner and slaveholder, surprised even his supporters by pushing for immediate statehood as free states. He opposed Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850 intended to maintain the balance. On January 21, 1850, Taylor sent a message to Congress, saying he had asked California and New Mexico to create state constitutions as they saw fit (undoubtedly making slavery illegal), and submit them to Congress. He advised Congress to quickly approve the wishes of the residents of those soon-to-be states and approve them for entry into the union. On January 29, Henry Clay submitted his more South-friendly compromise to Congress. Taylor's dinner invitation was for two days later, and this one was sent to New York Congressman Hugh White. White, a strong opponent of slavery, opposed its introduction into the newly acquired territories. He and Taylor had common views on the biggest question of the day. What they discussed at dinner is unknown. Item 102. $500.


If President Taylor was less than sympathetic to the wishes of his fellow southerners, the northern President, Franklin Pierce, was overly sympathetic to the South. Elected in 1852, he was the classic “Northern man with Southern principles.” This is a letter published by the Independent Democrat of Concord, New Hampshire, in 1864. It is a letter captured from the library of Jefferson Davis when the area of his plantation fell to Union forces. In the 1860 letter, Pierce speaks of “the madness of Northern abolitionism” and the “fanatical passion on the subject of domestic slavery.” Pierce expresses his hope that Davis will become the 1860 presidential nominee of the Democratic party. He was not, though he did get the consolation prize, President of the Confederate States of America. This letter was published to defeat the Democratic nominee in the election of 1864. Item 83. $875.


Slavery in America ended with the Civil War, but for many black people in the South, conditions didn't improve all that much. The Confederates may have officially been gone, but the land was often run by white supremacists. After serving two terms as Governor of South Carolina from 1890-1894, Benjamin Tillman was elected Senator, where he remained until he died in 1918. He was one of the architects of the state's 1895 constitution which mostly disenfranchised blacks, and spoke positively of lynch mobs. Item 105 is The Negro Problem and Immigration by B. R. Tillman, U.S. Senator Delivered by Invitation Before the South Carolina House of Representatives January 24, 1908. South Carolina's “Negro problem,” from the white perspective, was that there were more of them than of us. Actually, there were several hundred thousand more. What were they to do? Tillman had two suggestions. One was since literacy tests would be less effective going forward as blacks were becoming more educated, was white immigration. Bring a few hundred thousand more whites to South Carolina. That would not be easy as he readily admitted South Carolina was not a particularly desirable place. However, he suggested if the federal government would drain the miles of swampland along the coast, there would be some very desirable farming land to attract whites. His other suggestion was to repeal the 15th Amendment. That is the one that made it illegal to deny the right to vote on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Do away with that pesky Amendment and things will again be like they were in the good old antebellum days. He concludes with a warning/threat, as South Carolinians, “we will make this state red before it ever becomes black.” $350.


Next is a captivity account, A Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of John R. Jewitt, only survivor of the crew of the ship Boston, during a captivity of nearly three years among the savages of Nootka Sound: with an account of the manners, mode of living, and religious opinions of the natives. Embellished with Ten Engravings, by Richard A. Alsop, published circa 1815. Jewitt was a skilled young metalworker when he decided to join a voyage around the world. He sailed on the Boston, a trader, and several months after leaving New England, they sailed into Nootka Sound in today's British Columbia. They traded with the natives, but some sort of misunderstanding led them to kill the crew, only Jewitt and one other whose life Jewitt convinced them to spare, survived. Jewitt was useful for his metalworking skills. He became the slave of the Chief, but it evolved into a friendly relationship. However, 28 months later when the opportunity arose, he escaped to another ship. This is an account of his captivity, though there may be a few embellishments other than the ten engravings. Item 2. $175.


David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books may be reached at 203-389-8111 or dmlesser@lesserbooks.comTheir website is www.lesserbooks.com.


Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

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