Rare Books and Manuscripts From The 19th Century Shop
The latest catalogue from the 19th Century Shop.
By Michael Stillman
A typical 19th Century Shop catalogue is not long on volume. Rather, it features a selection of very desirable books and manuscripts, fitting for the best of collections. Quality over quantity. The latest offering from them is a typical 19th Century Shop catalogue. This is catalogue number 103, and here are a few of the items you will find within its covers.
One of the truly great books of Americana is the History of the Indian Tribes of North America, by Thomas McKenney and James Hall. McKenney was appointed Superintendent of Indian Trade in 1816 by President James Madison, and would become the first Director of the Office of Indian Affairs in 1824. In his first post, he urged that, "Indians be looked upon as human beings, having bodies and souls like ours, possessed of sensibilities and capacities as keen and large as ours." It was a point of view he would maintain until his death in 1859, even as the expanding nation treated its native people abhorrently in its desire for more land. In his official capacities, McKenney would be involved in invitations of Indian leaders to Washington as well as trips to the frontier. He made a point of gathering information about these peoples, and commissioned drawings of their leaders. McKenney was convinced that much about their culture would soon disappear, and he desperately wanted to preserve it. McKenney would be dismissed from his office by Andrew Jackson, no great respecter of Indian rights, but that would afford him the time necessary to put this massive history together. Together with James Hall he created this three-volume set, which includes 120 hand-colored lithographs, primarily portraits of Indians. These portraits were turned over to the Smithsonian, where most were destroyed in a fire, leaving this book the sole means by which images of these great leaders were able to survive. The copy offered by the 19th Century Shop is the folio (large) edition from 1842-1844, and while it may be beyond the means of most collectors, it will be a wonderful addition for those with sufficient funds. Priced at $135,000.
It is not uncommon to find pro-revolutionary tracts from the 1770s in America. Here is an unusual such series of newspapers that were printed in England. What is surprising is not just their pro-independence stand, but the vehemence with which the writer, T.W. Shaw, attacked the British authorities. The publication was The Crisis, and the 19th Century Shop offers 86 of the 91 editions issued, the third longest run in existence of which they are aware. The depth of the writer's sentiments can be seen in the August 24, 1776, edition. It includes one of the earliest English printings of the Declaration of Independence. Says the writer, "The following is the Declaration of INDEPENDENCE of the BRAVE, FREE, and VIRTUOUS Americans, against the most dastardly, slavish, and vicious TYRANT, that ever disgraced a Nation, whose savage cruelties are covered under a mask of Religion. Horrid Impiety! Execrable Hypocrisy!" I'm not sure whether many Americans ever spoke quite so harshly toward the crown, and one wonders how Shaw was able to get away with publishing his paper. Bound together with the periodical are five issues of The American Gazette, another pro-American British newspaper published early in 1776. The five issues are two more than any other run the 19th Century Shop was able to locate. $45,000.
Rare Books and Manuscripts From The 19th Century Shop
A portrait from History of the Indian Tribes of North America.
Two of America's longest serving, most famous, and most influential Supreme Court justices were John Marshall and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Marshall preceded Holmes by about a century, and it was he more than anyone who established the Court's authority to uphold the requirements of the Constitution (as interpreted by the Court) over the other branches of government, and established federal supremacy over the states. In 1901, the year before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Theodore Roosevelt, Holmes wrote this autographed manuscript tribute to Marshall and the American flag. His message is, "The flag is but a bit of bunting...yet, thanks to Marshall and to the men of his generation...its red is our life-blood, its stars our world, its blue our heaven." While today there is no shortage of people willing to pay homage to the flag, one wonders how many of them appreciate the role Marshall and the other "men of his generation" played in making it a symbol of something meaningful. Indeed, how many even know who John Marshall was? For those who know and appreciate Marshall and Holmes, the 19th Century Shop offers both this document and a signed photograph of Holmes from his college days, shortly before the Civil War. $18,500.
Translators are usually unknown or forgotten, but Edward FitzGerald is the exception. FitzGerald translated the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam into English, and he is perhaps as much creator as translator. His book was first published in 1859, and it was not a success, at least not at first. Of course it is now one of the bestselling poems ever written, but FitzGerald's first edition remains a rarity. Here is a copy. $42,000.
Another book that retains its popularity a century and a half later is Henry David Thoreau's Walden. It was first published is 1854. However, two years earlier, parts of what would become that book were printed in Sartain's Union Magazine. The specific sections are "The Iron Horse," and "A Poet Buying a Farm." While Thoreau's book would become very popular, it did little to save the dying Sartain's. The July and August 1852 issues, in which Thoreau's works appeared, were the last two ever published. Offered here is a bound collection of the eight editions of Sartain's which were printed in its final year. Also in this volume is "A Voyage in a Balloon," the first American publication of a work by Jules Verne. $2,200.
The website for The 19th Century Shop may be found at www.19thcenturyshop.com, and their phone number is 410-727-2665.