Feed on

What is it about election years? The recent publication of the fourth volume in Robert Caro’s massive biography of President Lyndon Baines Johnson may not answer this question, but it does make us rethink the legacy of LBJ, and compel us to acknowledge the power, the responsibility and the basic human dimension of America’s highest elected office.

Lyndon Johnson was the fourth man to assume the office after the assassination of the president, joining company with those following the assassination of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. In The Vantage Point Johnson memorably recalls those terrible minutes in the Dallas motorcade when Secret Service Agent Youngblood “pushed me to the floor and sat on my right shoulder to keep me down and protect me… I was still not clear about what was happening.”

Bauman Rare Books is pleased to offer a fine first edition of Johnson’s 1971 autobiography, The Vantage Point, signed by him, that offers an exceptional touchstone to the man and the president. The value of a modern first edition, such as this, is substantially enhanced by the presence of the original dust jacket. The original dust jacket issued with the first edition of The Vantage Point has a clear laminate that tends to bubble, so we look for copies where that “bubbling” is fairly minor.

Thomas Jefferson rare booksThomas Jefferson was arguably the greatest of all American book collectors. His first collection became the nucleus of the Library of Congress, after the original was destroyed by fire. But after selling his library to Congress, he found that he could not be without his books—so he set about building another library from scratch. He devoured books, recommended them to friends and colleagues zealously, and “spared no pains, opportunity, or expense” to acquire more. According to Arthur Bestor, his collections and his painstaking organization of them form “a blueprint of his own mind.”

We are pleased to offer Jefferson’s very own eight-volume set of the Duc of Sully’s Memoires, a fascinating work penned by a key advisor to King Henry IV that was “usually included in Jefferson’s lists of recommended historical reading” (Sowerby). It was Jefferson’s unique custom to write his ownership initials in among a book’s pages—as he has done in each of these eight volumes. Books from Jefferson’s personal collection are exceptionally scarce on the market. To find such a set of books that he thought of so highly is rare indeed.

“It is a woman’s writing, but whose?” – (William Thackeray on the authorship of Jane Eyre)

The pseudonymous publication of Jane Eyre in 1847 by “Currer Bell” sparked one of the greatest literary controversies of the 19th century. The novel proved an immediate and almost unprecedented success, selling out within three months while the public clamored for any information on the identity of its mysterious author.

Speculation was rampant in contemporary papers, with many reviewers attributing the book to a man because of the quality and complexity of the prose. However, William Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte’s literary hero and later an important member of her circle, wrote, “It is a fine book… I have been exceedingly moved & pleased by Jane Eyre. It is a woman’s writing, but whose?” Bronte’s identity was revealed only after the work had gone through several editions. By that time, it was already clear that she had written a classic of English literature. View our current selection.

Machiavelli Prince First Edition Book 1640 “The authentic interpreter of Machiavelli is the whole of later history.” —Lord Acton”

Almost immediately upon its 1532 first appearance in print, The Prince exerted a formidable and far-reaching influence. Henry VIII’s agent Thomas Cromwell obtained a manuscript copy only a few years after the first publication. The works of Shakespeare and Marlowe abound with references to the author, and while Machiavelli’s seemingly amoral stance earned him a villainous reputation in Elizabethan England, his keen and practical analysis was admired by major Enlightenment figures such as Bacon, Rousseau and Hume. But The Prince was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1559— in the “banned absolutely” category—and did not appear in a printed English translation until the Episcopal censorship broke down in 1640, when it was published in a small-format volume that is now exceedingly scarce.

We are currently pleased to offer this very rare and important 1640 Machiavelli’s Prince first edition in English, a seminal work in the foundation of modern political theory and a great classic of political science. Browse our inventory of Niccolo Machiavelli rare books or contact us for more information.

“One Of The Supreme Utterances Of The Principles Of Democratic Freedom”

Battle of Gettysburg OrationA few short lines scrawled, according to popular legend, on scratch-paper and the backs of envelopes, the Gettysburg Address ultimately became one of the most revered and brilliant documents in the history of the United States. On November 19, 1863, Lincoln arose after Edward Everett’s two hour
dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg and “delivered the ‘few appropriate remarks’ requested of him, and in ten sentences did unforgettable justice to the thousands of young Americans who had struggled with incredible bravery” (Bruce Catton). We are pleased to offer the rare first book-form appearance of Lincoln’s magnificent Gettysburg Address in original wrappers for $42,000.
View Details

“A Blueprint Of His Own Mind”

Arguably Jefferson was the most famous of all American book collectors; his library and its meticulous organization have been called “a blueprint of his own mind.” A tireless book lover, he had built a library of 6700 volumes by 1815—easily the most significant library formed by an American at that point. In a letter to a friend, Jefferson wrote that he “spared no pains, opportunity, or expense” on his collection.

After the original Library of Congress was destroyed during the War of 1812, Jefferson sold his entire library to Congress to ensure that American government had access to the best books of the day. Almost 200 years have passed and his library still stands as a testament to the man and his distinctive taste: his pride in America, his fascination with modern science, and his emphasis on the importance of preserving knowledge. His library remains a reflection of his identity.

What pieces of history will you preserve? Browse our current books on and about Jefferson.

“A Book Of Mine Where A Sound Heart And A Deformed Conscience Come Into Collision And Conscience Suffers Defeat.”
Critics blasted Twain’s dark, brilliant Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the moment of publication, vilifying the book for its “coarseness” and “blood-curdling humor.” Nonetheless, it emerged as arguably the defining novel of American literature, prompting Hemingway to declare: “All modern writing comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had. There was nothing before. There has been nothing since.” Published in 1885, Huck was a labor of love and frustration that had taken Twain eight years, and he was devastated that its introduction failed to elicit the same enthusiasm as his beloved Tom Sawyer. View our current selection.

A book can be the product of an obsessive drive for knowledge and a descent—for months or even years—into a sort of madness. T.E. Lawrence went to the desert, becoming Lawrence of Arabia and eventually writing Seven Pillars of Wisdom. John James Audubon set out to catalogue the birds of America in painstaking detail and created, at great personal cost, the finest plate book ever made. Thomas McKenney, George Catlin and Edward Curtis were each driven to preserve the history of the Native Americans before their way of life vanished. Each produced magnificently illustated epic works that constitute our only remaining records of many tribes. Richard Burton and Ernest Shackleton were similarly in thrall to consuming spirits of adventure, writing of everything from swords to dog-sledding, infiltrating the Hajj to navigating the ice of the South Polar Ocean. Wherever their seemingly mad quests took them, Bauman Rare Books can help you follow, pointing you toward rare books so beautiful and captivating that you may well develop an obsession of your own.


Throughout the history of book collecting, among the most sought after copies have been those inscribed and presented by their authors. The list of what one could dream of acquiring is endless. The first edition of Leaves of Grass that Whitman presented to Thoreau. The copy of The Great Gatsby that Fitzgerald inscribed to T. S. Eliot, from “his enthueusiastic worshipper” (Fitzgerald was renowned for his poor spelling). The publisher Sylvia Beach’s copy of Ulysses, inscribed to her, with poem, by Joyce: “in token of gratitude.”

For the collector, the significance of the inscribed copy is tremendous; not only do we have proof that this copy was actually once in the author’s hands, but it shows a personal glimpse as well — a phrase, a quote, an intimate message, a beautifully written script or an illegible scrawl. View our current selection.

Rare Travel Books

“I had ambition not only to go farther than any man had ever been before, but as far as it was possible for a man to go.” —Captain James Cook
Homer dreamt of travel—and Odysseus set out across the sea. Lewis and Clark explored a continent—with well-thumbed books in their pockets. Mark Twain saw hope in a nation’s restless genius and swept Huck out into the swift currents of the Mississippi. Ernest Shackleton braved frozen worlds in a testimony to the human spirit. These stories are recorded for all time in the pages of great books. They are the legacy of those who dared to dream.

Join the adventure. Let us at Bauman Rare Books help you to build a collection of exceptional and valued books that will let you see into the past and dream of the future. Browse our current Rare Book Travel inventory.

Older Posts »