A Catalogue of and for the Ages from the 19th Century Shop
Gregor Mendel's foundation work for the science of genetics. A monk with evidently ample time to work in his garden, Mendel undertook numerous experiments in crossbreeding plants whereby he was able to establish the manner in which various traits were handed down among generations. His large number of tests enabled him to determine mathematical formulas of probability in the passing of traits. Mendel's pioneering work was first printed in the journal Verhandlungen des Naturforschenden Vereins in Brunn with the title Versuche uber Pflanzen-Hybriden... published in 1866. Only 134 copies were printed, to be distributed to various scientific institutions. $150,000.
The first printing of the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine was issued by President Monroe in 1823 as a warning to European nations who might seek to replace the crumbling Spanish empire in the Americas with one of their own. The doctrine stated that the United States would tolerate no such colonization of the western hemisphere. Though the United States had limited enforcement powers at the time, the warning essentially has held ever since, with the Doctrine most recently employed at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Offered is one of only four copies extant of the first printing of the Monroe Doctrine, from the December 2, 1823, issue of the National Intelligencer. There are only four known copies of this first printing, in two separate states (priority unknown). This one is the same as the Streeter copy. $100,000.
Slave auctions and runaways. Perhaps the most chilling reminders of slavery are the auction and runaway notices. On February 27, 1855, an auction of 60 Very Choice Sugar Plantation Hands was held in New Orleans. Most came from the estate of a recently deceased plantation owner. A few were sold as families, either husband and wife, or mother and very young children. However, separation of children must have come early. Children were sold individually as young as 9 years of age, and while the 9-year-old was described as an "orphan," several in the 10-12 age group were not. An 8-year-old was sold with her mother, so perhaps that was the cut off. Older children are generally described as "good field hand," while younger ones are more often labeled as "useful in field." Prices have been entered by hand, with the lowest being $250 for Fanny, who was 11 years old and did not even get a "useful" description, and $125 for Richard, who was a 50-year-old gardener with "sore legs." The highest price paid was $2,300 for Bob Jackson, one of only two slaves with a listed last name, both good in the field and with machinery, and his wife Hannah, a good field hand. Their ages of 27 and 31 would have made them ideal workers, strong yet experienced. Of course, the buyers would have expected many decades of free labor ahead from their purchases, but emancipation was just eight years away. $17,500.