A Spring Miscellany from Austin's Antiquarian Books
A Spring Miscellany from Austin's Antiquarian Books.
By Michael Stillman
We have received our first catalogue from Austin's Antiquarian Books of Wilmington, Vermont: Spring Miscellany. Books, Manuscripts, Ephemera. It is, as it says, a "miscellany," meaning the catalogue is hard to describe. It may not have everything, but it does have many things. Certainly most meet the expectations of the bookseller's middle name - antiquarian - and there is a slight leaning toward titles from their native New England. However, there are works from all across America, and a fair number of books from overseas. So, we will describe a few of the works we found with the caution that these are not necessarily representative of the wide array of subjects available in this catalogue.
You undoubtedly know that Ferdinand Magellan was the first to circumnavigate the globe (actually, Magellan died before the journey completed, but his surviving crew completed the circle). However, do you know who was first to circumnavigate the world alone? The answer is Canadian-born seaman Joshua Slocum, who completed the journey in a little over three years from 1895-1898. Slocum was a man born for the sea. He probably spent more of his life on a boat than on land. For years, he, his wife, and several children lived on a boat, traversing the world, making money hauling cargo. After his first wife died, he remarried, but wife number two quickly grew tired of life at sea. By 1895, the rest of his family was busy with other things and Slocum set out on his historic journey. At the time it made him famous, and his account is considered by many to be one of the great travel adventures. After his circumnavigation, he attempted to settle down, but it didn't work, and he was back at sea. In 1909, heading for adventures in South America, Slocum and his boat were lost at sea. Item 113 is his book: Sailing Alone Around the World, published in 1905. It is inscribed, "Yours very truly Joshua Slocum on the Spray Cottage City Aug 15th, 1906." Cottage City, renamed Oak Bluffs in 1907, is located on Martha's Vineyard, Slocum's last home on land. The "Spray" was the boat in which he sailed around the world, and also the one on which he was lost at sea. Priced at $425.
Item 38 is a typed, signed letter from Thomas Edison, dated July 25, 1908. It was written to Theodore H. Miller of Poughkeepsie. Miller had sent Edison some photographs of his son operating a phonograph, and Edison writes, "it gives me such gratification to hear of the pleasure the phonograph gives to others." While we cannot be certain of this, it seems very likely that this is the Theodore H. Miller who was an inventor, tinkerer, fan of Edison, and a successful businessman, Superintendent of Poughkeepsie's largest industrial firm DeLaval Separator. Miller had a young son at the time, plus a one-year-old daughter. She, Elizabeth "Lee" Miller, later Lady Penrose, would grow to be a famous Vogue fashion model. The story is she was discovered on a New York street by Conde Nast himself. Next, she moved to the other side of the camera, becoming a noted photographer, collaborating (and more) with Man Ray, and a friend of Picasso. She even appeared in a Jean Cocteau film in 1930. Perhaps her greatest triumph was her photographs during the war, and of concentration camps and other German scenes shortly after it ended. Her irrepressible style undoubtedly came from her father, an iconoclast who also dabbled in photography and sent his child's picture to Edison. $1,250.
A Spring Miscellany from Austin's Antiquarian Books
Man Ray photograph of Theodore Miller's daughter Lee.
Horace Greeley was not exactly a young man when he went west in 1859, now pushing 50 years of age. The publisher of the New York Tribune was by then one of the most powerful newspapermen, arguing for liberal causes and vehemently against the "slave power." However, despite his enthusiastic advocacy of causes, and his unsuccessful presidential run in 1872, most people probably remember him for his admonition, "Go West, young man." The inspiration for this advice was surely, in part, the journey he described in this 1860 book: An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859. It consists of letters he wrote back to the Tribune. Greeley has inscribed this copy. Item 99. $250.
Item 61 ties together two major generations of American leaders. It is An Address Delivered at Charlestown, August 1, 1826, in Commemoration of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In an eerie coincidence, America's second and third presidents both died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. A few weeks later, a young first term Congressman named Edward Everett gave this address at a town outside of Boston. Everett would go on to have a long and distinguished political career, serving as a congressman, senator, and governor of Massachusetts, ambassador to England and Secretary of State, along with a stop as President of Harvard College. However, his influence faded as his enormous dedication to preserving the Union left him a bit too compromising for northern tastes in the 1850s. In 1860, he ran for vice-president on the compromise-oriented Constitutional Union Party, opposing Lincoln. However, once war broke out, Everett became a strong Lincoln supporter and friend. It was Everett who gave the lengthy, keynote address at the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield, though it is Lincoln's brief remarks which followed that became some of the best-known words ever spoken. Nevertheless, Lincoln wrote Everett, perhaps the most noted speaker of the day, his congratulations for the speech. Everett died in 1865, after tirelessly campaigning for Lincoln in 1864. $85.
Austin's Antiquarian Books may be reached at 802-464-8438 or email@example.com. Their website is found at www.austinsbooks.com.