Books and Manuscripts from The 19th Century Shop
The latest from 19th Century, with a Tenniel drawing of Alice on the cover.
By Michael Stillman
The 19th Century Shop has issued a new catalogue of Rare Books and Manuscripts of All Ages, Catalogue 110. The material they offer is the very top of the line, from manuscripts that are, naturally, unique, and also of historical importance, to some of the rarest and more desirable of books. This is not a catalogue for the amateur, but for the highest level of collectors, it is a must. We will mention a few of the items within its pages, which will certainly illustrate the type of material they are offering for sale.
Translations of the Laws, Orders, and Contracts, on Colonization, from January, 1821, up to this time, in virtue of which Col. Stephen F. Austin, has introduced and settled foreign emigrants to Texas...may not sound like an exciting title, but it was the first book published in what is this most collectible of states. Only 300 copies were printed, and even by 1836 it was rare and sought after. Today, it is extremely rare. Stephen F. Austin is known by the label Sam Houston gave him at his funeral: the "Father of Texas." Austin would have been surprised that this was in store when he first crossed the Sabine River in 1821. His father, Moses Austin, had obtained a Texas land grant from the Spanish authority, and Stephen went to Texas to set up a colony on the land after learning of his father's death. He would spend the next decade building a colony and dealing with the authorities, first Spanish, then Mexican after the revolution. At times they encouraged development, at others held back. They obviously bounced back and forth between their desire to develop the land, and obtain revenues from it, and their fear of the growing Anglo presence within their borders. By the early 1830s, settler dissatisfaction was growing, as were suspicions of their intentions by Mexican authorities. Austin was a moderate, advocating conciliation with the Mexican government, not revolution. Nevertheless, Austin was arrested for insurrection in 1834 and spent over a year in a Mexican jail. Shortly thereafter, the Texas revolution would begin, with Austin now a supporter. Austin ran for president of the new Texas Republic in 1836, lost to Sam Houston, but was appointed Secretary of State. However, he died that same year, leading to Houston's funeral oratory. The book being offered, a Texas first, was published in 1829, and it spelled out the laws for Austin's colony, as few of his settlers knew the local laws since they could not understand Spanish. Priced at $235,000.
The Book of Mormon is another American first, in this case the first edition of the book that launched America's largest home-grown faith, now followed by over 11 million people worldwide. It was published in 1830 in the small upstate New York town of Palmyra, near where founder Joseph Smith said he discovered the plates which revealed this book. This first edition is the only one that described Smith as its author, later ones labeling him the translator. The 19th Century Shop reports that the first is also unique in that it was the only edition to forbid polygamy. This copy is complete, including the page of witnesses' testimony. $100,000.
Books and Manuscripts from The 19th Century Shop
Stephen Austin's rare first printing in Texas.
Albert Einstein is remembered for his incomprehensible intelligence and scientific/mathematical discoveries. However, he was also a politically involved man at the outbreak of the Second World War. A German Jew who escaped before the self-proclaimed "superior" butchers could put an end to his intellect, Einstein spoke to the British people via radio during their darkest time, December 4, 1940. This is a typescript of his radio address, Broadcast to Britain, signed "A. Einstein." In it, the great scientist notes that there has been a struggle for freedom going on for several centuries, one that has resulted in amazing advancements in science and the arts. He realized these advancements were now at risk, and it was the British people who were making the sacrifices necessary to preserve them. He concludes that it was "...Britain by her present heroic ordeal, that was the means of saving humanity from slipping back into the darkness of barbarism and slavery." $65,000.
John Stedman's Narrative, of a Five Years' Expedition, Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam... is a memorable look at the horrors of slavery in the Americas during the 18th century. Stedman served with Dutch forces sent to the colony of Surinam to put down a slave rebellion. He did his job, but came away appalled by the treatment of the slaves, and Europe's willingness to commit such atrocities in order to obtain cheap resources. Stedman also noted that not only were slaves dehumanized by the process, but that the same could be said for their masters, who routinely acted in the most inhumane and inhuman of ways. Stedman's narrative includes numerous powerful engravings from William Blake, a noted writer, illustrator, and abolitionist. This is a first edition from 1796. $7,000.
From 1866, offered is a first American edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Originally, the book was published in Britain in 1865, but these copies were to be destroyed after objections from illustrator John Tenniel, supported by author Lewis Carroll (real name Rev. Charles Dodgson). However, rather than destroy the offending pages, many were shipped to America and used to construct this version, published in New York by Appleton. Alice is, of course, one of the greatest masterpieces of both children's and adults' literature ever published. $55,000.
This should give you an idea of the type of material you will find in this latest offering from the 19th Century Shop. You may find them online at www.19thcenturyshop.com or call them at 410-727-2665.