More of The Unusual from Thomas Cullen
The latest from Buffalo area bookseller Thomas Cullen.
By Michael Stillman
We have received catalogue number 40 from Thomas Cullen, Rockland Bookman. Cullen offers an unusual collection of books and manuscripts, unusual but always interesting. His catalogues always leave you asking, "where did he find that?" Along with books, he manages to find diaries pushing two centuries old, old photo albums, autographs, letters, catalogues, and just about anything else that fits the books and ephemera category. You will be entertained just seeing what he has, and most of these items, unusual if not unique, are very reasonably priced. Thomas Cullen's catalogues are designed for almost anyone's budget. Here are a few of the items he has.
Here is a fascinating item for American history enthusiasts. Item 8 is The Annual Register Or A View of the History, Politics and Literature for the Year 1770. This London item includes an account of "the unhappy riot at Boston in New England." This would be none other than the Boston massacre, which so incensed residents of that city it would be a rallying cry for the revolution that would come a few years hence. The dead and wounded are listed, including "a mulatto man, named Crispus Attuck, born in Framingham, ...also killed instantly; two balls entering his breast..." Crispus Attucks is considered by many to be the first American to die in the revolution, and for all the discrimination that followed, it's hard not to appreciate the fact that the first American patriot to sacrifice his life for our freedom was a black man. Also recounted is the trial of the British commander, Thomas Preston, his defense by John Adams, and his ultimate acquittal. Priced at $325.
Do you remember the Studebaker? My father bought one shortly after the War. Their sleek styling was way ahead of its day. It would not be until the mid-1950s that other automakers would catch up. Unfortunately, Studebaker's costs were high and it did not have the means to compete with the Big Three in terms of pricing as auto sales ramped up. It merged with Packard, and after a brief run in the early 1960s based on its trendsetting compact "Lark," it was crushed when the Big Three introduced their own compacts. The last Studebaker rolled off the assembly line in 1966. However, Cullen takes us back to an earlier day, and a Studebaker that not even those of us who recall their cars still remember. Item 118 is Studebaker Vehicles, Trade Edition 1910. There are no automobiles in this catalogue. Though they did build electric cars earlier, the first gasoline powered Studebaker was produced in 1913. This is a catalogue of Studebaker wagons, buggies, and the like. Founded in the 1850s by the five Studebaker brothers, many of the wagons that carried settlers and their belongings into the West were Studebakers. Not Fords or Chevys, but Studebakers. Of course, most of these had just one horsepower. $325.
Are you a fan of illustrator Howard Pyle? He was a famed book illustrator at the turn of the last century, particularly of children's adventure tales. He also taught many other artists of his day, including N.C. Wyeth. Of course, an autographed Pyle book would be of special interest to anyone who collects him. How about 16 Pyle autographs? Seriously. Item 61 is a copy of Oliver Wendell Holmes' 1894 Houghton, Mifflin The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, illustrated by Pyle. This copy comes with an inscription to "my fellow artist, Kate Smalley." However, 15 of the plates are also signed, including comments on them, such as "I think this is one of the best of the set," and "This is Dr. Holmes favorite." $3,500.
More of The Unusual from Thomas Cullen
The five Studebaker brothers did not look like pioneers in modern styling in this photograph.
For those who would like a lot of autographs, but from more than one person, item 28 is an amazing collection of astronaut autographs. There are roughly 60 autographs from 30 astronauts on pictorial envelopes, mostly first day covers. Included are most of the early names, Alan Shepard, America's first astronaut, John Glenn, the first American to go into orbit, Frank Borman, Gordon Cooper and more. It also includes the hard-to-find signatures of three astronauts who died training for the program. The best known is Virgil "Gus" Grissom, who died on the launch pad during a simulated countdown when fire raced through his module. The others are Elliot See and Charles Bassett, who died in an airplane crash on a training run. $900.
He was one of the greatest orators America has ever known. Daniel Webster served for decades in the senate with Henry Clay and John Calhoun, the other great speakers of the era from 1820-1850. While none of them ever made it to the presidency, they are better remembered than many of the men who reached the highest office during that time. By 1852, Calhoun was gone and Clay was dying, but Webster reached the age of 70 a hale and hearty man, serving for the second time as Secretary of State. It was then that he gave An Address Delivered Before the New York State Historical Society, February 23, 1852. It is unlikely that anyone there could have imagined that eight months later, Webster would also die when he fell from a horse and landed on his head. Item 108 is a copy of this address, and it contains one of Webster's later inscriptions, with his best regards to one Mrs. Cornelia Thayer. $900.
Next is a book in which no one wanted to find their name. It is the Straw & Prince Undertakers Cash Book. This is an accounting book for the Manchester, New Hampshire, undertaker from 1864-1867, but it also includes the names of hundreds of people who conducted their final transactions with this estimable firm. Item 86. $500,
Here is a catalogue filled with goods for sale, shoes, socks, brooms, brushes, shirts, tables, desks, chairs, beds, baskets, pots and pans. Is this circa 1928 catalogue from Sears or Wards? No. It is the New York State Department of Corrections, Catalogue of Products Manufactured in State Institutions. These must have been good products because the workers quite literally worked like slaves to produce them. And you thought all they could make were license plates! Item 121. $225.
Thomas Cullen may be reached by phone at 716-662-2082 or email at email@example.com. If you find this material as interesting as I do, you should give him a call.