March 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

William Reese

Catalogue Review: William Reese, Bulletin 25

Screen shot 2012-03-15 at 10.15.39 PM.pngWilliam Reese of New Haven, CT, hardly needs an introduction to seasoned book collectors, but for those new to the hobby, his company offers the cream of the crop in Americana and Literature. Catalogues are generally thick, beautifully illustrated, and full of amazing books and documents. The bulletin under review (issued between larger catalogues) is his most recent, and it is devoted to broadsides.

Broadsides, generally speaking, are one-sided printed sheets. They offer a street-level view of history; these were the flyers and posters pinned and posted around town, advertising sales or announcing wars. There are 32 items offered here--from an extremely rare 1778 broadside, Address to The Congress..., printed in Hartford, CT ($50,000) to an unrecorded, possibly first printed New York City liquor license c. 1702-1714 ($850). There are playbill broadsides, advertisements, addresses, and official government messages.

A 11" x 8" broadside from 1809 lists "Rules to be attended to during the Vaccination" for those considering a small pox inoculation ($1,250). I like the N.B. at the bottom, "Save the scab for examination." A slave sale broadside from 1859 lists twenty-four slaves by name and age up for sale in Alabama ($6,000). Three-year-old Sarah and seventy-four-year-old Wallis among the "land, negroes, and perishable property" to sell "to the highest bidder."

There are broadsides here for collectors of African-Americana, Native Americana, theater history, Revolutionary War, the South, French and Indian War, Quakerism, abolition, political history, California...The list is long because this short bulletin has exquisite examples from several major collecting categories, and yet it also prompts us to think about the many varied paths in collecting--the mark of a great catalogue.

See for yourself, by downloading it here.  
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