Literature, Poetry, Filmscripts and More from William Reese
Literature from the William Reese Company
By Michael Stillman
The William Reese Company has issued a catalogue of Literature. Included under that heading are poetry and prose, manuscripts, fine printing, filmscripts, and bibliography. This is not the typical Reese catalogue of high end historical Americana. Nor are the items quite as old as those found in most Reese catalogues, the concentration here being on 20th century works. One more difference - those who may find typical Reese material a bit high for their budgets will discover most of the works within this catalogue to be readily affordable by those of more modest means. There is an inscribed F. Scott Fitzgerald work in here for $35,000, but then again, there are items for $24. The number of collectors who do not purchase items somewhere within this price range must be small indeed. Here are a few samples.
From the upper end, item 249 is an inscribed copy of Ernest Hemingway's 1927 collection of short stories, Men Without Women. It says, "To my friend & compatriot Archibald MacLeish a true man without women this book is dedicated - 'Life is real, Life is Ernest' - Hemingway." A second inscription, to Mrs. MacLeish, states, "Dedication to Ada later - Papa." Of course one must wonder how Mrs. MacLeish felt about Hemingway describing her husband as a "true man without women." What was she; chopped liver? Anyway, while not regarded on a level with Hemingway, MacLeish was himself an important writer of the 20th century, writing primarily poetry, along with plays and essays. During Franklin Roosevelt's administration, he took time off to fill several government posts, including head of the Library of Congress, a speechwriter, propagandist, and Assistant Secretary of State for Cultural and Public Affairs. He spent most of his post-Roosevelt years again writing and serving in academia. He was also a great personal friend of Hemingway, whom he met in Paris in 1924. Priced at $20,000.
As we said, most items herein are not so pricey. Item 250 is another Hemingway piece, a Souvenir Book for For Whom The Bell Tolls. This is a 1943 booklet produced for the release of the film version of this book, which starred Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. There are photographs of the stars and articles by the director, along with comments by Cooper and Bergman and others involved with the production. Item 250. $100.
Here are a few more items for those who like movies. There is an early working draft for the 1943 film Tarzan Triumphs. This was one of the films starring Johnny Weissmuller in the title role, and as one might expect considering the date of this film, the British born King of the Apes was fighting Nazi invaders at the time. This copy is signed by Lester Koenig, who helped adapt the printed Ape-man to the screen. Item 95. $450. Item 101 is a mimeographed "Final Draft" (with enough revisions to indicate it was not so final) for the more critically acclaimed film Breakfast at Tiffany's. Everyone knows this Audrey Hepburn classic, adapted from a novella by Truman Capote. It won two Academy Awards, though both of those were for its music (notably, "Moon River"). Hepburn did receive a best actress nomination. Item 101. $3,250.
Literature, Poetry, Filmscripts and More from William Reese
Tarzan is justly rewarded for defeating the Nazis.
Now for an item that will appeal to those of a right-leaning political persuasion. It is The Life of John Birch in the Story of One American Boy. The Ordeal of His Age. This book was written by Robert Welch and was published in 1954. Welch would go on to form the society that bears Mr. Birch's name four years later. While the John Birch Society is legendary for its far right views, Mr. Birch himself was a missionary and U.S. intelligence officer in China killed by the Communists in 1945 with no ties to those who adopted his name (they considered Birch the first victim of the Cold War). This copy of Welch's book contains a 1954 inscription to H.L. Hunt, a wealthy Dallas oilman who funded the Birch Society and at one time paid to broadcast his personal editorials on radio stations around the country, promoting similar far right views. He may have been the wealthiest person in the country during the 1960s. Despite his conservative views, H.L. had two wives and families (at the same time), and had four children with his third wife before they were married. Evidently, H.L. felt conservatism was more appropriate for others than himself. Among his 14 children are Bunker, who at one time made, then lost, billions of dollars attempting to corner the world's silver (he ended up bankrupt), and Lamar, a founder of the old American Football League who still owns the Kansas City Chiefs football team. Item 297. $175.
Item 417 is another inscribed book, From Morgenthau's Diaries Years of Crisis 1928-1938, inscribed, naturally, by Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Morgenthau had purchased a large farm in Dutchess County, New York, in 1913, making him a neighbor of one Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt appointed him to the state agriculture commission in 1930 when FDR was still Governor, and to several federal offices after becoming President. In 1934, Roosevelt named Morgenthau Secretary of the Treasury, a post he held until 1945. Morgenthau played a major role in ushering the nation through its financial depression, and then in raising funds to support the war effort. Morganthau died in 1967, but his 86-year-old son Robert still serves as District Attorney for the city of New York. The 1959 inscription in this book states, "For Eleanor Roosevelt. My best friend and neighbor for a life time...This so called "Diaries" is a factual record of my work under F.D.R. and was done largely to prove to the young people of America that you can be honest in government..." Perhaps it's time for someone to reprove that seemingly unbelievable claim to today's young. $275.
First editions of Gone With The Wind are a dime a dozen, but not first printings. The first printing of Margaret Mitchell's beloved if not acclaimed work is both uncommon and highly collectible. Item 414 is a first printing. $12,500.
The William Reese Company may be located online at www.reeseco.com, or reached by phone at 203-789-8081.