April 1, 2008

Major Auction of Printed and Manuscript Civil War Material - April 9

Bloomsbury Auctions of New York will conduct a major auction of printed and manuscript Civil War material on Wednesday April 9. The entire 215-lot catalog is online (with images) and can be found here. This extremely rare material includes original slave broadsides, regimental recruiting handbills and broadsides, holograph letters, Confederate newspapers, autographs, and signed photographs. Surprisingly, there are few books. Though acquiring the vast majority of these items will command far deeper pockets than yours truly possesses, I find the auction catalog itself is often a valuable and usually affordable reference tool. Sometimes, but not often, these full-color catalogs are free for the asking to prospective patrons. (hint)

According to Bloomsbury's website, "The sale features the collection of Douglas G. O’Dell, the late proprietor of Chapel Hill Rare Books, and one of the preeminent Civil War dealers in the country. Born in the South, Doug O’Dell’s collection includes a strong emphasis on the Confederacy, with a remarkable assemblage of printed Confederate ephemera produced during the exigencies of war. Examples of this 'necessity printing' mark many of the high spots of this sale: wallpaper newspapers, broadsides printed on poor quality paper in a rainbow of pale and drab colors, and crudely-printed material done on field presses. The O’Dell collection also includes manuscript material of considerable importance, including letters written by Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate and Union Generals.

Highlights include a remarkable January 1861 letter regarding Fort Sumter written just days after Robert Anderson’s occupation ($10,000 - $15,000), the complete manuscript for Richard Taylor’s important Confederate memoir titled Destruction and Reconstruction ($10,000 - $15,000), and a very rare copy of the final printing of the Confederate Constitution and a copy owned by an Alabama delegate to that convention ($50,000 - $70,000). Additional items featured in this auction are the most important and desirable photographically illustrated book about the conflict – Alexander Gardner’s Photographic History of the Civil War ($130,000- $150,000), an important handwritten order by Stonewall Jackson directing D. H. Hill to the Battle of Frederickburg ($12,000 - $18,000), a rare copy of the large, lithographed broadside printing of the South Carolina act of secession ($20,000 - $30,000), and an unpublished 1865 manuscript account of Andersonville Prison ($12,000 - $18,000).

Viewings will be held Tuesday, April 1st to Wednesday, April 3rd from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Friday, April 4th from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday April 5th from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Monday, April 7th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Tuesday, April 8th from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and on Wednesday, April 9th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. The auction will begin on Wednesday, April 9th at precisely 2:00 pm."

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