August 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Howard S. Mott

Catalogue Review: Howard S. Mott, #260

It must be said that I have a soft spot for Howard S. Mott Inc. When I met Donald (Rusty) Mott at the 2010 NY Antiquarian Book Fair, I spied a first edition of Walden in his booth, and we got to talking Thoreau, one of my favorite topics. At the 2011 NYABF, my husband secretly visited Rusty's booth and--my birthday being just two weeks later--picked up something truly surprising for me.

So, biased though I may be, it is easy to see from catalogue #260--the company's 75th anniversary catalogue, I might add--that Rusty Mott of Sheffield, Massachusetts, is one of best booksellers out there. This catalogue is text-heavy, showing off Mott's vast knowledge of his books but also his delight in the material. There are several interesting broadsides, particularly having to do with bookselling/printing. One is an unrecorded 1747 advertisement broadside, sold by Peter Griffin, "Map & Printseller at the three Crowns & Dial next the Globe Tavern Fleet Street" ($1,350). Another is an appeal from James Swan, printer, after his "dreadful fire" in 1807 ($350), and still another from Thomas Reeves and Son, suppliers of paper, pencils, crayons, etc., circa 1784-1789 ($500).

One of several major manuscript prizes is a Mexican War diary by West Point graduate Lt. Rankin Dilworth ($9,500). The 94-page original manuscript diary describes his trip down the Mississippi and on to Monterrey, where he encountered intense assault and was mortally wounded. Another interesting manuscript item is an illustrated log of eighteen months on board the Royal Navy Ship, H.M.S. Constance ($9,500).

An anonymous sketchbook "in an accomplished hand" of watercolors, pencil drawings, and photographs from the French Quarter of New Orleans seems destined to find a home quickly ($1,650).

A small section on China seems a smart addition to the catalogue, considering the strength in that market. It also speaks to the breadth of this catalogue. One needs to read through five times to take it all in. To do that, you'll have to email them for a digital or print catalogue. Visit their ABAA page for more information.