Here are some of our most RECENT ACQUISITIONS available for purchase:
A Great Rarity of Western Americana
The Illustrated California News (San Francisco)
Vol. 1, No. 4 (November 1, 1850), a single eight-page issue. Small folio. Trimmed to decorated borders with loss, not affecting text, otherwise VG. $2,000
One of the great rarities of Western Americana is the Illustrated California News. Published for just six semi-monthly issues in 1850 by the firm of Cook and La Count, the Illustrated California News was surely the most expensive periodical published in America at the time at $1 an issue (clump change, however, for those with gold in their pockets). This issue is arguable the best of the six. It includes an half-page engraving of Vallejo, accompanied by a sketch, a two-third’s page engraving of Dead-Man’s Bar, accompanied by an account of extracting gold there, and two half-page engravings of Portsmouth Square, at the time San Francisco’s “Grand Plaza”, depicting the west and east sides, with street signage clearly visible. The latter two views are accompanied by a full-page of text giving details about the businesses lining the square. The only copies of this periodical to appear at auction in the last fifty years was a complete run that sold for $6,500 in 2001. This issue comes from the owner of that run.
Civil War News Spiced with Emily Dickinson’s Poetry
(Emily Dickinson) Springfield Weekly Republican, Vol. 41, No. 2 (January 9, 1864) to No. 53 (December 31, 1864), lacking September 10. (Springfield, MA: The Republican Publishing Co, 1864). Broadsheet folio. Bound in leather and marbled boards. Binding poor, spine effaced, boards detached. Contents VG, with spotting, small tears, and paper discoloration to some issues. Loss to the bottom right corner of the first issue. June 11 issue bound incorrectly with slight text loss. One three-line classified neatly clipped from the December 24 issue. $1,000
The Springfield Republican was, in the opinion of Horace Greeley, “the best and ablest country journal published on the continent.” This was due almost entirely to its editor and publisher, Samuel Bowles III. He inherited the paper from his father in 1844 at the young age of 20, turned it into a daily, and within six years, had built it into the largest circulation daily paper in New England, outside of Boston. During the Civil War, Bowles and the Republican were firm supporters of Lincoln and the Union. While the daily edition of the paper contained much local news, the weekly edition focused much more of its attention on national news. It circulated throughout the country. The volume is replete with war news, covering the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, the sieges of Richmond and Petersburg, the fall of Atlanta, and Sherman’s March to the Sea, the political conventions and campaigns, and the triumphant reelection of Abraham Lincoln.
Bowles also played an important role in American literary history. He was a close friend of Austin and Susan Dickinson, Emily Dickinson’s brother and sister-in-law. Susan Dickinson said that Bowles presence in their home, The Evergreens (abutting Emily Dickinson’s home), “seemed to enrich and widen all life for us, a creator of endless perspectives”. Emily Dickinson’s friendship with Bowles began shortly after meeting him at The Evergreens: “Though it is almost nine o’clock, the skies are gay and yellow, and there’s a purple craft or so, in which a friend could sail. Tonight looks like ‘Jerusalem.’ I think Jerusalem must be like Sue’s Drawing Room, when we are talking and laughing there, and you and Mrs Bowles are by”. In total, she wrote about fifty letters to Bowles (some also written to his wife, Mary) and sent him about forty poems. Several of the poems, written in the early 1860s, allude to the turmoil she was experiencing during that time but do not disclose its specific nature. After the text of her poem “Title divine—is mine! / The Wife without the sign,” she wrote to Bowles: “Here’s – what I had to ‘tell you’ – You will tell no other? Honor – is it’s [sic] own pawn—”. Although scholars generally agree that Dickinson’s relationship with Bowles was one of the most significant in her life, interpretations of the nature of their friendship vary. While some feel he is a primary candidate for the Master figure Dickinson alludes to in her writings, others argue he was simply a close friend whom she trusted enough to share her deepest troubles. In any event, Bowles was an early and enthusiastic admirer of her work and published eight of her poems in the Daily Republican over fourteen years, reprinting just three of them in the Weekly Republican. This volume contains two of the three, both unsigned, “Flowers” (“Flowers — well — if anybody”) (March 12) and “Sunset” (“Blazing in gold and quenching in purple”) (April 2). A great volume for either the Civil War collector or the collector of American literary highspots.
An Early Guide Book to the Real New York
George G. Foster. New York in Slices (New York: William H. Graham, 1849). Octavo. In original pictorial wrappers. Covers worn at edges, scribbling about Chatham Square at top of front cover, wear to spine, which is archivally reinforced. Contents VG with spotting and a water stain to upper left margin. $500
This iconic guide to New York life was among the earliest in the genre to present the known and unknown city side-by-side (“Mysteries and Miseries…” “By Daylight and Gaslight”, etc.). Foster, a writer for the New York Tribune, who wrote this series for newspaper publication, covered the usual haunts, Broadway, the Tombs, Wall Street, and also the titillating ones, the gambling houses, the Bowery, the oyster cellars, etc. He also profiled types, the b’hoy, the needlewomen, the newsboys, the dandies, etc. It proved so popular that William Graham issued it in book form (only in wrappers, as befitted its subject matter). He illustrated it with engraved street scenes and comic cuts by Charles Martin, Jr., originally drawn for Graham’s defunct comic weekly, Yankee Doodle. Just as fascinating as the text is the 70 pages of largely illustrated advertisements, promoting Daguerreian studios, quack medicines, Edward White’s National Miniature Gallery, pen manufacturers, clothing establishments, etc. etc. Foster made a modest career out of such books, following this one with New York by Gaslight, New York Naked, Philadelphia in Slices, etc. Emblematic of his marginal status in the world of letters, he died in prison in 1856. Quite rare.
West Virginia in the Civil War
Lucian Gray. Camps of the 4th Brigade 1st Div. 8th Army Corps, near Romney Va. Respectfully dedicated to Members of the 4th Brigade by Lucian Gray, Sergt. Major, 1st Va. Vol. Infantry. (Pittsburgh: Krebs and Bros., 1863) 14.5″ x 21.5″. Tinted lithograph. VG, with wear to margins and edges. Rebacked with archival paper. SOLD
A beautiful Civil War print of troops from what would become West Virginia camped in Romney (West) Virginia. The print was issued no later than mid-1863, because on June 20, 1863, West Virginia became a state and Romney would have been identified as being part of the new state. This brigade saw action in some of the most important battles of the Civil War: Winchester (March 1862), Port Republic (June 1862), Cedar Mountain, Rappahannock Station, Thoroughfare Gap and the second battle of Bull Run (August 1862), Gettysburg (July 1863), New Market (May 1864), and the Shenandoah Valley battles under Sheridan in the summer and fall of 1864. Surprisingly few lithographs came out of Pittsburgh in the mid-19th century. Otto Krebs and Bros. was among the first firms in the city, being established in 1856. During the war, the “Bros.” enlisted and later moved elsewhere. Krebs continued alone in the business until 1901. Worldcat locates no copies.
The Great Hoosac Mountain Tunnel Dissected
Edward S. Martin. Profile of Hoosac Mountain showing Tunnel, 1877. (Boston: Designed and published by Edward S. Martin, J.B. Richards & Co. Lith., 1877). Tinted lithograph. Framed. Image: 11.5″ x 30″. Frame: 13.75″ x 33.25″. VG, with damage to lower right margin. SOLD
The central image of this oblong print is a cross-section diagram of Hoosac Mountain in Western Massachusetts showing the tunnel entrances, which is flanked by vignettes of the tunnel entrances and surrounding landscape on either side of the mountain. When work began on the Hoosac Tunnel in 1851 it was projected to cost $2 million. When the project was completed in 1875, total costs came in at $21 million. At its completion, the tunnel at 4.75 miles was the world’s second-longest, after the 8.5-mile Mont Cenis Tunnel through the French Alps. It remained the longest tunnel in North America until the 1916 completion of the Connaught Tunnel under Rogers Pass in British Columbia,and remains today the longest active transportation tunnel east of the Rocky Mountains. The artist Edward S. Martin, a recent Harvard grad, became, improbably, the first literary editor of the comic Life (1883-1936). Worldcat locates two holdings, the Boston Athenaeum and the University of Southern Maine.
America’s First Magazine of Nonsense
The Lark (San Francisco)
Vol. 1, No. 1 (May 1895) to Vol. 2, No. 24 (April 1897) comprising 24 issues in all, the complete run, along with the Epilark, an “intimate history of the Lark,” published in May 1897, bound in two volumes of decorated cloth by the publisher. Small octavos. Bindings VG, with darkened spines. Contents VG, delicate, printed on bamboo paper. Tissue repairs to front fly. This set was owned by Richard Badger, the turn-of-the century Boston publisher, with his Art Nouveau bookplate designed by Hutchins Hapgood on the front pastedown of both volumes. SOLD
The Lark has the distinction of being the first magazine in America devoted to nonsense. It can’t be said that it was a reaction to the famous humor magazines of the day (which took themselves rather seriously) because that would imply that the Lark had a mission. It’s only purpose was to provide an outlet for the whimsies of its creators, chief among them Gelett Burgess, with help from Carolyn Wells, Maynard Dixon, Florence Lundberg, Ernest Peixotto, and Bruce Porter. It was a very high level of whimsy, however. Mott got it right when he said, “The Lark was unique in its high spirits and its freshness; and was as clever as the best of the [little magazines of the 1890’s] — one of the most charming magazines ever published.” (Mott/IV/388) In its pages, the country was first introduced to Burgess’ antic humor, including the immortal lines: “I never saw a purple cow/I never hope to see one/But I can tell you anyhow/I’d rather see than be one.” (which appeared in the first issue) and the equally wonderful sequel: “Ah, yes, I wrote the Purple Cow/I’m sorry now I wrote it/But I can tell you anyhow/I’ll kill you if you quote it.” (final issue). Burgess and his co-conspirators went off to lead interesting and productive lives in the arts. But nothing they did or anyone else has done since quite matched the originality of The Lark.
A Joke on Top of a Joke
Le Petit Journal des Refusees (San Francisco)
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 1896), all published. Trapezoid octavo. Printed on wallpaper. Fair, marginal chips, archivally mended tears and spine, notoriously fragile. SOLD
This bizarre magazine, loosely translated as “The Little Magazine of Rejects,” was a fantastic prank cooked up by Burgess, adopting the pseudonym James Marrion 2nd, and Porter Garnett. Burgess remembered it this way: “Its [intent] was to send out a rollicking, whooping gabble of ultra-nonsensical verbiage, eschewing seriousness in any form. It was destined to be the reductio ad absurdum of the ‘freak’ journal.” It purported to be a magazine publishing only prose and poems rejected by more respectable journals. In addition to the “rejects”, each copy contained a page with a portrait of Burgess identified as a “contemporary,” a portrait of the redacteur-en-chef in silhouette (which is not Burgess), and an ABC of little magazines under the title “Our Clubbing List” (“I am an idiot, awful result/Of reading the rot in the Yellow Book”). One of the most remarkable things about this publication is that I have found no two copies that collate the same; in each issue the pages are rearranged in a jumble, suggesting that the printer changed the order of the plates repeatedly throughout the print run. Consequently, one cannot cite content by page number because the content of each copy is in its own unique order. Quite scarce. For those interested in another laugh, check out the Wikipedia page on the magazine, which is so academic that on first glance seems to be a joke itself, but on closer reading appears to be in earnest – making its pretentious pronouncements about the magazine even more ridiculous than the magazine itself.
Norman Rockwell in Washington
Norman Rockwell. The Senator, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 28, 1939). (Washington, DC: Senator Publishing Co, 1938). Quarto. Near fine, with minor smudging to the white background. $100
The Senator was the brain-child of Harry Newman, the publisher of Judge, who saw an opening to establish a New Yorker-like magazine for Washington, DC. Newman didn’t just mimic the idea; The Senator looked an awful lot like its New York inspiration as well, right down to the spot illustrations and cartoons to break up the text. It boasted an a-list of contributors, but none of them is remembered today, except of course the cover artist for the first issue. This is one of the more difficult mid-career Rockwell items to find. Surprisingly, Worldcat locates no holdings of this magazine, which lasted but eight months.
Columbia Gives McClellan the Cold Shoulder
H. L. Stephens. How Columbia Receives McClellan’s Salutation from the Democratic Platform. ([New York: 1864]) Handbill. 7.5″ x 8.75″. VG with loss to lower left corner. $400
In 1864, the Democratic party adopted a platform that called for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy. General McClellan accepted the Democratic nomination but repudiated the peace platform. This cartoon by the Vanity Fair veteran H. L. Stephens chastised the candidate for the glaring discrepancy. In the cartoon, Columbia tells the audience: “What a shame that a man who was educated at my expense, and whom I have since honored and petted, should have allowed himself to be allured by ambition into such company, and upon such a Platform! His Letter cannot conceal his real position, nor hide those odious (grave) planks; neither can it reconcile me to his traitorous companions. I DISCARD BOTH HIM AND THEM FOREVER.”
What makes this cartoon particularly interesting is that during Vanity Fair’s run (1859-1863), Stephens was a Union Democrat. It appears that by 1864 he had abandoned his party in favor of Lincoln.
Rare View of a Connecticut Paper Mill
Anon. Residence and (Paper) Mills of J. D. Stowe, Scitico (Enfield), Connecticut. (c. 1870s). Lithograph. Image: 10″ x 14″. Frame: 16.5″ x 20″. The lithograph is VG with spotting. The period black and gold frame is dinged. SOLD
This elegant house and paper mill were located on the banks of the Connecticut river. The print is solely held by the Connecticut Historical Society, but little is known about it. We do know that the company depicted changed its name to J. D. Stowe and Sons by the late 1880s and operated well into the 20th century.