Manuscripts, Books and Collections from Thomas Cullen
Thomas Cullen's latest catalogue, with the late Mrs. Budge's final moments illustrated.
By Michael Stillman
Thomas Cullen, Rockland Bookman has issued his 41st catalogue of Manuscripts and Books. Cullen offers a mix of material, hard to easily pin down. There is a concentration of local materials from the northeastern states, but other items take us into the Midwest and southern states as well, and even Canada and England. One thing that can definitely be said is that you will find a great deal of manuscript material here. These include diaries and business ledgers, and they provide a clear look at American life from the late 18th and 19th centuries. Most provide glimpses of country life, rather than that of the big cities (of course, not too many Americans lived in big cities at that time). However, we caution that this does not cover everything in this catalogue. There is material scattered across many other subjects, from art and antiquity to the West and the World Wars. Here are a few samples from the latest catalogue from Thomas Cullen.
Item 18 is an enormous collection of correspondence, photographs, contracts and the like from sculptor Leonard Volk, his son, artist Douglas Volk, and their families. Leonard Volk is responsible for perhaps the most important act in preserving the likeness of Abraham Lincoln for future generations. In March of 1860, before Lincoln was nominated for president, Volk had Lincoln sit for the creation of a plaster life mask. It is one of but two Lincoln ever sat for, the other coming two months before his death, and that one has mistakenly been thought a death mask Lincoln had so aged as a result of his difficult years in office. Volk's sculpture is the Lincoln we know. He would later also do a mask of Lincoln's hands, the right slightly larger, Volk explained, because of all of the hand shaking on the campaign trail.
All of this is somewhat surprising and ironic, as Volk's wife was a cousin of Lincoln's principal rival, Stephen A. Douglas. He reportedly met Lincoln at one of the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates. Volk also made a life mask of Douglas, and would go on to create numerous sculptures and monuments to both Illinois political leaders. His son Douglas Volk (named for Stephen Douglas) was a painter of some note himself, particularly notable for portraits, including posthumous ones of Lincoln (reportedly then toddler Douglas Volk was present for the Lincoln sitting). This collection includes hundreds of pieces of correspondence from the two Volks, family photographs, a sketch of the Rochester, New York, Lincoln memorial by Leonard, a seven-page biography of Stephen Douglas by Leonard, and much more. Priced at $9,000.
Manuscripts, Books and Collections from Thomas Cullen
Ruffians murder poor young Carlo Ferrari.
Here is another large collection, but this one comes from the field of show business. The subject is Dailey Paskman, a mostly forgotten celebrity today, but a man well-known in the first half of the 20th century. Paskman wrote plays, music lyrics and books, and his friends and associates included many of the biggest names of the day. He was most closely associated with Lionel Barrymore, but his address book and other artifacts show he knew George and Ira Gershwin, Greer Garson, Bette Davis, and many more. His songs and plays, though popular at the time, did not become classics. Few seem to be remembered today, though we do note his "Scrooge," a Christmas musical adaptation of Charles Dickens, is still being performed this year. Perhaps Paskman's most notable area that made him a celebrity is one we would just as soon forget. His greatest successes seem to have been in the 1930s with Dailey Paskman's Radio Minstrels. Paskman was a big name in Blackface minstrel shows, that hideous portrayal of black people by white actors for white audiences. Nevertheless, Paskman was a notable of his time, and item 105 consists of six boxes of his artifacts, plays and books he wrote (notably "Gentlemen, Be Seated"), personal papers, correspondence, contracts, royalty statements, original scripts, scrapbooks with stage and personal photos, wills, Christmas cards, and his address book. $5,500.
For a look at medicine when it was even more unpleasant than it is today, item 99 is the ledger of Pennsylvania physician Dr. David Maclay. This ledger runs from 1879-1886, and we find that he prescribes morphine and strychnine only rarely, and still on occasion bleeds people. He can also be a bit poetic at times. Speaking of a patient, one William McClure, he writes, "like a clock worn out with eating time, the wheels of weary life at last stand still." I think what the doctor means is that he lost this patient. $300.
Item 32 is a British criminal broadside from 1831, headed Committal to Newgate of Bishop, Williams, and May. Charged with the Murder of an Italian Boy. Evidently, these three "gentlemen" killed young Carlo Ferrari so they could sell his body to the dissecting rooms of King's College. The three were executed, reportedly in front of a crowd of 30,000 cheering fans. In a bit of poetic justice, their bodies were consigned to the dissecting rooms. $350.
Rev. Henry Budge did better than the trio above. A review of the Case, the people agt Rev. Henry Budge, indicted for the murder of his wife, Priscilla Budge…by John Swinburne, tells of a death in 1861. Mrs. Budge was found with her throat cut, which was at first believed to be suicide (do people really kill themselves this way?). However, husband Henry was later charged and tried, but acquitted. Author Swinburne went on to serve as mayor of Albany, New York, and one term in Congress. Item 31. $175.
You may reach Thomas Cullen, Rockland Bookman at 716-662-2082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may view and search all of the items they offer for sale online through the following link: Books For Sale