Various New Items from John Waite Rare Books
Catalogue Fourteen from John Waite Rare Books.
By Michael Stillman
John Waite Rare Books of Vermont has issued their Catalogue Fourteen, a collection of 72 varied items suitable for equally varied collectors. There are literary first (and later) editions, autographed works, photographs and manuscripts, art, documents from both sides of the Civil War, poetry, maps, travel, and so on. We cannot say exactly which collectors will find something to buy, but just about any are likely to find something worth a look. Here are a few examples.
We will start with something targeted to the antiquarians. Anything older than Gutenberg qualifies as antiquarian no questions asked. Item 25 is a vellum manuscript issued by one Conradus of Germany in 1339. In it, he pledges his lands will annually provide one pig, two geese, and four chickens for the feast of the blessed Jacob. Conradus attests that his daughters, Elizabeth and Petronille, have consented to this gift. One suspects the current owner of these lands would be surprised to learn of his obligation. Priced at $950.
Item 55 is a different type of contract, one for the labor of Joel Bishop of North Haven, Connecticut. The date was December 15, 1796, the term "one Year or 310 working days" (there were more working days in a year back then), and the employer Miller and Whitney of Georgia and Connecticut. Whitney is the better known of the partners, he being Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. His machine revitalized agriculture and the economy of the South, enabling a worker to produce 50 pounds of cleaned cotton a day, where only one pound was possible before. Bishop was hired to produce cotton gins, and for his labor, he was to be paid $200 for the year, five dollars per quarter with the balance at the end of the contract. The firm agreed to provide "suitable Food and Lodging," while Bishop had to pay for his own "Grogg and Washing," and provide his own tools. The contract is signed by the firm's superintendent and Benjamin Whitney, Eli's brother. $1,500.
For those who collect American financial genius Alexander Hamilton, there is the July 21, 1804 issue of The Port Folio, published in Philadelphia by "Oliver Oldschool," pseudonym for Joseph Dennie. This was written by a supporter of Hamilton after his death in a duel with Vice-President Aaron Burr (Burr had better aim than Vice-President Cheney). With columns bordered in black for mourning, the publication prints correspondence between Hamilton, Burr and their handlers leading up to the duel, Hamilton's will, a full description of his funeral and the oration by Gouverneur Morris, and his last statement wherein he was quoted as claiming he entered the duel "with a fixed resolution to do him no harm." Hamilton's shot missed by a mile, consistent with his claim that he had no intention of striking Burr, though Burr may not have so interpreted his fire. Whatever the intention, Hamilton was mortally wounded, as was Burr's reputation. Item 33. $700.
Various New Items from John Waite Rare Books
Frances Hook dressed as a man to join the Union Army.
Item 8 is a postcard to Ronald Reagan and the then Governor of California's reply. The postcard shows the Governor's Mansion in West Virginia with the comment from the senders, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Napier of Walnut Hill, "Would you believe the poverty? We should do better for you in Calif." Reagan evidently found the card amusing as he responded, "I've always wondered what they did with the money in the Appalacian [sic] program. Do you suppose we have the answer?" Actually, he didn't have the answer, and there really was poverty in West Virginia, but Reagan was not about to miss an opportunity to show his opinion of poverty assistance programs. $1,500.
Item 35 is a copy of the limited issue of the first American edition of Brave New World. This issue consisted of just 250 copies, signed by author Aldous Huxley, published in 1932. A photo portrait of Huxley is included. $3,000.
Item 16 is a most interesting photograph, that of Frances Hook in her military uniform, taken in 1864. Women were not allowed in the army at the time, nor were 14-year-olds. That didn't stop Miss Hook. When her older brother enlisted in the Union Army in 1861, she dressed up like a man, claimed she was 22, and was accepted. One suspects that the enlisting agent wasn't being too picky that day. Miss Hook took part in several battles, including Shiloh, where her brother was killed, and was captured in 1863. She was shot in the thigh while attempting escape. That is when a Confederate doctor discovered that he was a she. Jefferson Davis offered her a commission if she would join the Confederate cause, but she reportedly replied she would rather be hanged than fight the Union. She was released in a prisoner exchange in 1864, and this photograph was taken while she was convalescing at a hospital. $7,500.
John Waite Rare Books may be reached at 802-674-2665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.