Five Centuries From Joseph J. Felcone Antiquarian Booksellers
Five centuries of rare books from Joseph J. Felcone.
By Michael Stillman
Joseph J. Felcone Antiquarian Booksellers has released Bulletin 93, Rare Books From Five Centuries. Felcone, of Princeton, is best known as the leading seller of printed New Jerseyana, not to mention having written the bibliography of that state's materials. However, this bulletin expands way beyond the horizons of the Jersey shore. Yes, there are items here for the New Jersey collector, but most of the authors herein probably never crossed the George Washington Bridge, traversed the boardwalk, or threw their coins at baskets every 500 yards along the Garden State Parkway. However, they wrote about history, science, math, sports, travel, religion, law, war, animals, and created works of literature, poetry, music and maps. Here are a few samples Felcone is offering.
Item 19 is the first edition, in Latin, of Robert Barclay's exposition of the Quaker faith, Theologiae vere Christianae Apologia, published in Amsterdam in 1676. Barclay had published 15 tenets of the faith a year earlier, but this was the first complete explanation of the beliefs of a religion less than three decades old at the time. Barclay explained that the essential belief was that each person possessed an "inner light," which enabled them to see the truth of divine revelation, and thereby making religious ceremonies irrelevant. No wonder the Quakers weren't too popular with established religious authorities! Since this "inner light" was held by people of all creeds, Barclay was a proponent of tolerance, generally in short supply at the time. Priced at $8,000.
Item 55 was an early defense of autonomy in the American colonies. A Defence of the New-England Charters, first published in 1721, argued that original charters to the colonies were binding and could not be revoked at will by authorities in England. This later edition, issued in 1765, was printed in response to the Stamp Act, imposing duties upon the colonies, without the colonists' consent. The author of this important defense was Jeremiah Dummer, and his long forgotten family name has recently been resurrected in current news stories. It was Jeremiah's brother, Lieutenant Governor William Dummer, for whom Governor Dummer Academy in Massachusetts was named. That academy made headlines when it decided to change its name to just "Governor's Academy," evidently because prospective students were put off by the name "Dummer Academy." Of course, the smarter prospective students would know the difference between "dumb" and "Dummer," but perhaps we need a little dumbing down to accommodate those not quite so perceptive. Or is it "dumming" down? Anyway, Jeremiah continues to proudly wear his family name on this book. $500.
I have not read the following book, but based on the title, I would say author James Janeway was a true expert at turning lemons into lemonade, or converting tragedy to triumph. The book title is A Token for Children: Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children. This 1797 Elizabethtown, New Jersey, edition of a popular 17th century book was meant to inspire children. The young heroes and heroines, as young as five in these stories, live exemplary lives and face their impending deaths joyfully, being well-learned in scripture. Janeway believed younger children had a greater chance of reaching heaven, perhaps because they had less time to sin, so there was a certain joy, under this strange logic, to dying young. I'm sure the children reading this message must have felt inspired. Item 108. $1,800.
Five Centuries From Joseph J. Felcone Antiquarian Booksellers
For those interested in athletics, how about the fine old sport of pigsticking? Pigsticking? This is a sport where hunters on horses chase wild boar and try to kill them with spears. Now that name makes sense, although I'm not sure the sport does. The author of the quintessential pigsticking guide, Pigsticking or Hoghunting. A Complete Account for Horsemen; and Others, was Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell would become a general in the British army, and founded the boy scouts early in the 20th century. However, this book was written in an earlier time in his life, published in 1889. For those of you less than enthralled by the concept of this sport, Baden-Powell writes, "Try it before you judge. See how the horse enjoys it, see how the boar himself, mad with rage, rushes wholeheartedly into the scrap..." Not to be unfair, but I think I'll make my judgments without actually trying it. And my guess is that if the boar could speak, he would not be so fond of the sport as Baden-Powell implies. After all, he was the one getting stuck. Item 17. $750.
For magazine collectors, item 7 is a complete run of the American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine. This was published in Baltimore and New York from 1829-1844. The 15 volumes include 189 plates, and articles cover sporting topics such as racing, hunting, shooting and fishing. But no baseball, football, or basketball. Too early for that. $12,000. There is also a complete run of Tullidge's Quarterly Magazine. This was published in Salt Lake City from 1880-1885, and contains much information about Utah. Item 192. $1,200.
Audubon works can be enormously expensive. A copy of the folio edition of his "Birds of America" recently sold at auction for $5,616,000. Here is a much less costly, but more personal related item. It is a letter from Audubon to Benjamin Tappan, concerning his subscription to the octavo edition of the aforementioned book. Audubon inquires as to where to send the latest installment. The letter is signed and dated January 28, 1841. Tappan was a U.S. Senator from Ohio, and Audubon wanted to know whether to forward the pages to Washington. Item 14. $2,800.
Plymouth, Massachusetts, is well known for many things, but book publishing isn't one of them. Not many books were published there, but here's one. From 1812, it is Observations on Hydrophobia, Produced by the Bite of a Mad Dog, or other rabid Animal... Author James Thacher advocated the use the plant "skull-cap" as a cure. We don't know whether this book was a success, but the cure was not. Item 138. $500.
Joseph J. Felcone Antiquarian Books may be found at www.felcone.com or reached at 609-924-0539.