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Richard Samuel West ~ Monica Green ~ Kayt Thompson
The Promise of Freedom
H.W. Herrick del./J.W. Watts sc. Reading the Emancipation Proclamation (Hartford: S.A. Peters & Co.,). Mezzotint and engraving. Image: 16.75” x 17.25“. Near fine, discoloration to extreme margins, mounted on archival paper. $1,600
This is one of the great iconic prints of the Civil War. It pictures a group of Blacks, presumably slaves, gathered at night in a rude dwelling. A soldier reads the proclamation reprinted in a newspaper, which he holds, while a boy holds up a torch to illuminate the room. At left, a young man waves his hat in the air, an older woman sits on a chair and holds her cane, a younger woman kneels at a table and holds her hands in prayer while her two children hold her. At right, a man stands behind the soldier looking over his shoulder, another man sits off to the side in prayer, a woman sits, holding an infant on her lap, while a young girl stands in front of her. A piece of cotton is seen hanging in front of the fireplace. In the lower center margin is a bust portrait of Abraham Lincoln accompanied by three lines of text. New Hampshire-born Henry Herrick (1824-1906) was an engraver, illustrator, and painter who left a large body of distinguished work. He does a lovely job depicting the excitement and tension of the moment when American slaves first heard that their years of bondage had come to an end. It is important to note when this print was published: not after the war as a commemorative, but during the war and during that year’s election campaign, when everything was still in the balance. This is then a political document, meant to shore up support for the Union and abolition.
A Remarkable Piece of Californiana
Fred Somers and Joseph Strong, Jr. The Argonaut Sketch Book Mechanic’s (sic) Fair 1877 (San Francisco: Argonaut, 1877). Small folio. VG-, with chipping and general wear to wrappers. Old tape repairs to verso of front and back covers. Contents near fine. $200
The Argonaut was fresh on the scene when the annual commercial extravaganza known as the Mechanics’ Fair was held in San Francisco in late August and early September of 1877. The Fair was an opportunity for local entrepreneurs and inventors to display their products and creations. It served a critical role in bolstering California’s infant economy and encouraging the demand for local goods. Frank Pixley, the Argonaut’s splenetic owner and editor was not one to miss the main chance, so he decided to print a booklet to promote his newspaper and the fair. It is an unusual production. The entire booklet was drawn by hand — the text, illustrations, and advertising. Fred Somers, the managing editor of the Argonaut, wrote the text. Joseph Strong, Jr. then transcribed it in script, inserting nearly fifty illustrations of scenes at the fair as he went. All of it was then lithographed. Strong, Jr., a talented illustrator and later painter, is best remembered today as Robert Louis Stevenson’s son-in-law. The booklet leads off with a full page of portraits of the Argonaut staff. Pixley is there, along with Ambrose Bierce, Fred Somers, George Jessop, and others. There is but one publicly held copy of this booklet (the Huntington). A remarkable piece of Californiana.
Hark, the Lark!
Florence Lundborg. “What is That Mother? THE LARK my child, for August. 5 cts.“ (San Francisco: William Doxey, 1895). 21“ x 16“. Woodcut on Bamboo fibre paper. Near fine with light horizontal crease. $400
The Lark, my child, hardly needs an introduction. Founded in May 1895 by Gelett Burgess and Bruce Porter, it whistled its merry tune for two years before its handlers went on to other things. The art posters created to promote the Lark were distinctively American in style and highly artistic, rather than comic as might have been expected given the nature of the magazine. California-born Florence Lundberg (1871-1949) was the Lark’s primary poster artist, producing seven of the eight posters issued (the first one was drawn by Bruce Porter). Even though Lundborg went on to a long career as a muralist, a portrait painter, and an illustrator, she is best known for the Lark posters. This is the second poster in the series and the first by Lundborg. We are told that Lundberg designed it, but Gelett Burgess cut the block. A lovely artifact from gay 1890s San Francisco.
Civil War Advertising Lithograph
Martine’s Patent Kerosene Burner (Boston: C. A. Evan’s (sic), 1862). Chromolithograph. Image: 14.25“ x 11.5“. Frame: 20“ x 16“. VG, with modest spotting and one 3“ closed tear. $400
This colorful in-store advertisement for Martine’s Kerosene Burner “To burn Kerosene or Coal Oils without a chimney”, features the classic contrasting scenes in homes without and with Martine’s Burner. On the left is a troubled working-class family dealing with the reality of a broken glass chimney. On the right is a happy and well-to-do family enjoying their Martine’s Burner. The husband in the right panel even makes the extraordinary claim that he dates “the commencement of our prosperity” from the day he bought Martine’s Burner (25 cents). The 1862 broadside was published by the manufacturers, Martine and Emerson, and printed by C. A. Evans (why he added an apostrophe to his name in this print is just odd), a Boston lithographer of modest size who was in business from 1859 to 1865. We can be fairly certain the burner did not catch on — there are no online references to the product and no public holdings of this lithograph.
Socialism’s Greatest Gift to American Culture
The Masses (New York)
Vol. 4, No. 4 (January 1913) to Vol. 5, No. 3 (December 1913), comprising 12 issues, bound in the publisher’s black cloth. Small folio. Binding VG, with edge wear. New non-acidic endpapers. Contents near fine, except for the front and back covers of the January issue, which have ragged margins, toning to cover margins, and a few small archivally repaired tears. All covers and advertisements bound in. Highlights of this volume include covers and cartoon art by John Sloan, Art Young, Stuart Davis, George Bellows, Maurice Becker, Frank Walts, the Winters, and Cornelia Barns, and essays and prose by Max Eastman, John Reed, Gelett Burgess, Horatio Winslow, and many others. This volume is particularly handsome because nothing has been lost in the trim. Later volumes featured bleed-off cover art. $2,400
By all measures except the most mundane (profitability, advertising pages, circulation figures), The Masses was a great magazine: beautiful, intelligent, surprising, dynamic, deadly serious, laugh-out-loud funny, high-minded and frivolous. Nothing like it had ever been seen in America before it began publishing in its new form in December 1912. While Puck, Judge, and Life, America’s leading political satire magazines, had been entertaining readers for nearly two generations, only occasionally did the first and the last of these (Judge almost never did) challenge its audience with a cartoon or an editorial that departed radically from the status quo. The Masses was beholden to these venerable mainstream magazines for the visual and comedic vocabulary they popularized. But the artists and writers of The Masses were more interested in subverting tradition than in extending it. For that task, they drew their inspiration from the artistic satire magazines of Europe, Simplicissimus and L’Assiette Au Buerre, and succeeded in bringing the bravura of those unconventional publications to America.
The teens was socialism’s glorious moment in America. The movement was the product of more than 100 years of agitation– perhaps beginning with Jefferson’s warnings about the deleterious effects of urbanized culture – to curb the excesses of American capitalism. the American culture had wrestled with the coarser aspects of capitalism. Most Americans embraced the system enthusiastically, but they were not stone deaf to the stories of men who got rich on speculation during the civil war, to the ruthlessness of the robber barons, to the exploitation of immigrant and child labor and the brutal suppression of the labor union movement, to the abuse of privilege in the halls of government, to the exposes of the muckrakers and social workers. Slowly, converts were won in the fight for greater economic equity, in the fight for fairness. A great portion of the country was willing to embrace some sort of change, however cautious, exemplified by the elections of two reformers, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, to the presidency. A smaller, though growing, minority on the left wanted sweeping change. These radicals tended to gather under the socialist banner. It would be a mistake to suggest that the pre-world war I left was a monolith. But the unity of purpose in those pre-war days far surpassed any period since. That was because the evil – capitalism – was known in all of its destructive dimensions. Workers could feel its oppressive weight every day of their lives. Intellectuals and reformers could see the injustice all around them. The socialist vision, on the other hand, was just that – a vision, largely untested, but temptingly appealing.
The vigor and élan of The Masses is due in great part to this dynamic: the writers and artists confronted a pervasive foe, a hulking target, a system that in its excesses was its own worst enemy. They had, in short, an endless source of inspiration. Were they required to propose alternatives to Rockefeller’s henchmen gunning down mine workers and their families? The argument was academic. So, though the majority of Americans were skeptical, at minimum, of the sweet song of socialism, only the most mossback could defend the worst abuses of capitalism. History showed how the American left shattered as it responded to the Russian revolution, that is, when it was finally confronted with the reality of a Socialist state, but that story comes later, after The Masses was run from the stage. So this magazine spotlights that magical moment in the history of the American left, when it was resolute in its fight against evil and pregnant with glorious possibility. The Masses was the socialist movement’s greatest gift to American culture.
Female Working Class Lit
New England Offering (bound with) The Magnolia (Lowell, Ma/Boston)
New England Offering. Vol. 1, No. 1 (April 1848) to Vol. 2, No, 5 (August 1849), lacking March and June 1849, comprising a total of 15 issues. Octavo. (bound with) The Magnolia. Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 1846) to Vol. 2, No. 5 (November 1846), lacking May, June, and September, comprising a total of 8 issues. Both bound together in period leather and marbled boards. Binding near fine with light edge wear (the only stamping on the spine is “LOWELL“ and “VOL. 1“). Contents VG with spotting, especially to plates. A small added bonus to this volume is an unusual diamond-shaped bookseller’s ticket from Lawrence, Ma, on the front paste-down. $500
The Lowell Offering is famous. From 1840 to 1845 it published the work of female factory operatives in the Lowell Mills. It was widely heralded, then and now, as a unique contribution to American periodical literature. Its successor, The New England Offering (1848-50) is hardly known and, in comparison, little studied. In Betina Eisler’s valuable book The Lowell Offering (1977), she rushes past it in less than a sentence. Mott doesn’t mention it at all. Why? Both magazines were edited by the redoubtable Harriet Farley and had the same aim: to publish essays, fiction, and poetry by working-class females. And both did a good job of it. Perhaps the reason is that The Lowell Offering was a novelty, issued during a period when the mill owners were engaged in an experiment of enlightened and benevolent capitalism. In contrast, the New England Offering was not something new and was issued during a period when the mill owners had reverted to exploitation and neglect. Nevertheless, the New England Offering is just as fascinating to read and just as important a sociological document. It is far more scarce than its predecessor. Even more scarce than the New England Offering is the Magnolia — “the young woman’s azalia“ — published in Boston and Lowell. Though intended for a wide female audience, the Magnolia was an attempt to provide working class women in particular with uplifting reading. It featured an attractive engraving in each issue (the one of Lowell is particularly nice) and the usual mix of sentiment and piety. It is believed to have lasted only a year. As for the New England Offering, only the American Antiquarian Society appears to have a complete run. As for the Magnolia, only the University of Minnesota appears to have a complete run.
“One of the Best Little Magazines”
The Pageant 1896 and 1897 (London: Henry and Company, 1896/1897. Large octavos. Two bound annual volumes, all published. Near fine, with light edge wear and darkening to the spine of volume 2. Contents near fine. $250
The Pageant was the brainchild of artists Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, both members of the Royal Academy and co-owners of the distinguished small press, the Vail Press. They wished to enter the field of publishing dominated by The Yellow Book and The Savoy. Instead of quarterly publication, however, they opted for a hardbound annual. They enlisted the editorial services of J. W. Gleeson White (editor of The Studio) and the publishing experience of Henry and Company. Both volumes are beautiful productions, with distinguished prose and arresting full-page plates, of which there are at least 20 in each. The highlight of the 1896 volume is an original lithograph by James M’Neill Whistler (“The Doctor – Portrait of My Brother”). The highlight of the 1897 volume is an original five-color woodcut by Lucien Pissarro. The end-papers of both volumes are designed by Pissarro. Other art contributors to the volumes include Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Walter Crane, Sir John Millais, Gustave Moreau, Laurence Housman, the editors, and others. Literary contributors to the volumes include W. B. Yeats, Paul Verlaine, A. C. Swinburne, Austin Dobson, Edmund Gosse, Robert Bridges, Max Beerbohm, Maurice Maeterlinck, and others. In British Literary Magazines (1984), Robert Hosman declared that The Pageant was “one of the most attractive, one of the most professional, and one of the best little magazines published during the periodicals-rich 1890s.” An attractive set.
New York Nightlife by a Distinguished Cartoonist
W. A. Roger. “Ninth Avenue, Saturday Night Market.“ Gouache. Image: 14“ x 20“. Matt (soiled): 22.5“ x 28“. Near fine, with one tear to margin. $800
William Allen Rogers (1854–1931) was an Ohio-born self-taught cartoonist and illustrator. His first published cartoons appeared in a Dayton newspaper when he was 14. Still in his teens, he moved to New York and first found work with the New York Daily Graphic. Then he joined the staff of Harper’s Weekly, where he worked for more than two decades first as an illustrator and then as a political cartoonist. After he left Harper’s Weekly, he drew political cartoons for the New York Herald for twenty years. Throughout his career, he contributed to other periodicals, particularly Harper’s Monthly, The Century Magazine, Puck, and St. Nicolas, among many. This handsome drawing of New York city nightlife in one of its less fashionable neighborhoods probably appeared in The Century.
“An Indispensable Source”
Anthony, Gage, Stanton, Harper. The History of Woman Suffrage 1848-1900, Vols. I-IV (New York: Susan B. Anthony, 1887/1887/1886/1902) Octavos. Bindings VG-, spine repair to volume 1, color bleed to the rear endpapers of volume 3, wear to the bottom of the spine of volume 4, some interior hinges reinforced, some nibbling and loss to cloth. Interiors near fine, except for tide line to engravings in the final two hundred pages of volume three. All volumes are the Anthony volumes, meaning the first two volumes are second printings, and the last two volumes first printings. $800
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began writing a history of the women’s suffrage movement in 1876 and devoted much of their lives to it for for the next decade. Originally envisioned as a modest publication that would take only four months to write, it evolved into a work of more than 5700 pages written over a period of forty-one years. The fifth and sixth volumes, which completed the series, were published in 1922.
In the introduction the authors wrote: “We hope the contribution we have made may enable some other hand in the future to write a more complete history of ‘the most momentous reform that has yet been launched on the world—the first organized protest against the injustice which has brooded over the character and destiny of one-half the human race.'”
The first three volumes, which cover the history of the movement from its beginnings to 1885, were written and edited by Stanton, Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage. The fourth volume was written by Anthony and Ida Husted Harper. Volume 1 (1848–1861) appeared in 1881, Volume 2 (1861–1876) in 1882, Volume 3 (1876–1885) in 1886, and Volume 4 (1883-1900) in 1902, the year of Anthony’s death. According to Ellen Carol DuBois, a historian of the women’s movement, “The initial volumes are very broadly conceived, a combination of Stanton’s broad philosophical range, Anthony’s organizational energies and Gage’s historical sensibilities.” Anthony was the business manager. Stanton wrote much of the text, providing it with her distinct historical interpretation. Gage wrote several historical essays, including a long one that critically assesses Christianity’s attitude toward women throughout history. Gage also provided a significant number of historical documents to the project and was adept at tracking down additional documentation in libraries. In addition to chronicling the movement’s activities, the initial volumes include reminiscences of movement leaders and analyses of the historical causes of the condition of women. They also contain a variety of primary materials, including letters, newspaper clippings, speeches, court transcripts and decisions, and conference reports. At Anthony’s insistence, the volumes were indexed by a professional indexer and include many expensive steel engravings of women’s rights leaders.
A bequest of $24,000 from Eliza Jackson Eddy to Anthony in 1885 provided financial assistance for the completion of these volumes. Recognizing that there was little chance of the project showing a profit, Anthony paid Stanton and Gage for their shares of the rights to the books. She issued Volume 3 in 1886, listing herself as publisher. She also bought the plates of Volumes 1 and 2, which had already been published, from Fowler and Wells, the publisher, and reprinted them in 1887, again listing herself as publisher. Publishing the first three volumes cost Anthony about $20,000. The fourth volume lists Anthony as the publisher on the title page, but not on the spine.
The Encyclopedia of Women’s History in America described the History of Woman Suffrage as “the fundamental primary source for the women’s suffrage campaign”. In Elizabeth Cady Stanton: an American Life, Lori D. Ginzberg similarly described it as “the major, if not the definitive, collection of primary source materials on the nineteenth-century movement.” Historian Lisa Tetrault said of the series, “More than 125 years after their publication, they remain an indispensable source, having stood for much of that time as the richest repository of published, accessible documentary evidence of nineteenth century suffrage movements.” A seminal set.
An Early American Comic Book
[Rudolphe Topffer]. The Strange Adventures of Bachelor Butterfly [Title page: The Strange and Wonderful Adventures of Bachelor Butterfly] (New York: Wilson & Co., 1846). Oblong octavo. 64 pages, plus rare illustrated wrappers. Covers fair, with repaired loss to the front and back wrappers, which have also been remounted. Contents VG+, with blemishes. $1,000
Rodolphe Töpffer (1799 – 1846) was a Swiss teacher, author, painter, cartoonist, and caricaturist. He is best known for his illustrated books (littérature en estampes or “graphic literature”), which have become widely regarded as the earliest European comics. Consequently, he is considered the father of the comic strip and can put a serious claim to the title “first comic book artist in history.“ Paris-educated, Töpffer worked as a schoolteacher and ran a boarding school, where he entertained students with his caricatures. He created seven such books in the 1820s and early thirties and began publishing them first in Geneva in 1833 and later in Paris until the end of his life. Bachelor Butterfly has a curious history. In 1845, intended to be published first in Paris as Histoire de Monsieur Cryptogame, the book was pirated and appeared on London streets as The Adventures of Bachelor Butterfly before the French edition. The American edition, which followed in 1846, was based on the London first. It is the third sequential comic book printed in America and the second by Wilson and Co (the first being The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck ). The story details the extraordinary efforts of a lepidopterist to replace his current lover with a more suitable one. This is the corrected printing with “17“ printed outside the frame on page 17. Overstreet (at least the most recent edition we own) confuses the issue of provenance by picturing the cover of the Dick and Fitzgerald 1870s reprint and identifying it as the 1846 first edition. In actuality, the cover of the 1846 edition prominently displays “1846“ on the cover and does not have the words “Price“ and “30 cents“ in the upper left and right corners. Full of physical humor and sight gags, this is a comic classic.