A Variety of New Acquisitions from Bauman Rare Books
New acquisitions from Bauman Rare Books.
By Michael Stillman
Bauman Rare Books recently issued a catalogue of New Acquisitions from December. This is not material that can be pigeonholed into some particular category, but what it does have in common is that it is all top shelf. Bauman offers a selection of important and highly collectible work, much of it signed, that runs the gamut from politics to history, science, arts, literature, poetry, children's books, Americana, and more. Here are a few items from this latest collection.
Item 190 must be Nirvana for collectors of signed books. It is called Liber Scriptorum, published in two volumes, 28 years apart. The book was published by the Author's Club of New York, formed to assist young writers. To raise funds, each of the club's members contributed a story, poem, essay or the like, which was never to be published elsewhere. Just 251 copies of the first edition were printed. There were 213 contributors, and 204 of them signed volume 1. The most prominent were Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, and Andrew Carnegie. The book was printed in 1893 by Theodore de Vinne. The book sold for $100, a lot of money in those days (but not to Carnegie). Profits were $10,500. Despite the plan, Twain's Californian's Tale, first published here, was republished later. The Club planned to publish the second volume on the 25th anniversary of the first, but because of the War, it was delayed until 1921. It follows the same format as number one. Priced at $8,500.
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, is one of the most collectible of modern firsts. The book launched Hemingway into iconic status. This copy comes in the rare first issue dust jacket, which Bauman notes is one of the two most prized dust jackets of 20th-century American literature (the other being The Great Gatsby). Item 6. $75,000.
Item 8 is a rare piece of correspondence between President Abraham Lincoln and General George McClellan. In 1861, Congress authorized the appointment of an additional aide-de-camp for all major generals. McClellan, commander of the Union forces, was so entitled, and so he requested the appointment of Richard Irwin as his aide. Offered is McClellan's letter, endorsed by Lincoln: "Let the appointment within requested be made. A. Lincoln." Of course, the relationship between these two would deteriorate as Union forces struggled, and Lincoln would remove McClellan from command for being too cautious and timid. McClellan would in turn challenge Lincoln for the presidency as the Democratic nominee is 1864, but Union victories before the election doomed McClellan's chances. $31,000.
A Variety of New Acquisitions from Bauman Rare Books
Buffalo Bill attempts to retire.
Here are a couple of items that show the sympathetic, human side of Lincoln, even in the midst of his terrible trials. Item 125 is an impassioned letter from William T. Godwin, who had been sent home from the front for illness, but who was dismissed from the army (the then equivalent to a dishonorable discharge). Evidently, Lincoln was moved, as he wrote on the letter, "I incline to think injustice has been done in this case." He asks the Secretary of War to look over the claim and "correct any injustice which may appear." A countersignature from Brigadier General C.P. Buckingham indicates the Secretary of War reaffirmed the decision. General Buckingham was later selected to deliver the news to the aforementioned General McClellan of his being relieved of command. Godwin would end up serving with the Pennsylvania Volunteers and rise to the rank of lieutenant before the end of the war. $18,500.
Item 126 is an 1863 order to release Charles A. Stevenson from military prison on taking an oath of loyalty to the Union. Stevenson was a Confederate private. The request came from Colonel Joshua Travis, U.S. District Attorney for Kentucky, acting on behalf of Vincent Moore, "a true and loyal citizen," who was also Stevenson's brother-in-law. Lincoln writes, "Let the young man, Charles A. Stevenson, take the oath and be discharged. A. Lincoln."
Here is a most interesting letter from Wild West showman "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Cody had gone from scout, pony express rider, and all around cowboy to an entertainer in the 1870s. As the Old West disappeared, Easterners and Europeans became more and more fascinated with his recreations of an Old West that existed more in their imaginations than reality. Buffalo Bill complied. However, as the old cowboy aged, pulling off his stunts (and Bill never looked for a substitute stunt man) became more difficult. In 1907 he wrote to the representatives of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, which had a controlling interest in his show, about retirement. Writes the 61-year-old Buffalo Bill, "I have simply got to the end of my strength. And having to be in the saddle everyday with no chance to give this bladder trouble a chance to get well - and bowed down with financial worries - I am unfit to continue any longer." But continue he did, for another five years, before retiring. Item 56. $4,800.
Items 154 and 155 are unusual books. They are accordion-style foldouts contained in a wallet-like case. They are a pair of short, illustrated children's stories from Beatrix Potter, of Peter Rabbit fame. Item 154 is The Story of Miss Moppet, a gentle cat-and-mouse tale. Item 155 is the more threatening The Story of a Fierce Rabbit. The latter was in response to a girl who thought Peter was too good a rabbit. Hm... That would be news to Peter's long-suffering mother. These unusual classics are priced at $2,300 each.
Bauman Rare Books may be found online at www.baumanrarebooks.com or reached at 215-546-6473.