Nov 7, 2023 10:00 EST

Rare Books, Autographs & Maps including the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection

 
Lot 48
 

48

An important letter from the only repenting judge of the Salem Witch Trials

Estate / Collection: The Victor Gulotta Collection

SEWALL, SAMUEL

An important autograph letter signed from Judge Samuel Sewall to his son, with other Sewall family materials. The letter Boston: 26 August 1720. A one-page autograph letter signed "Samuel Sewall" on one sheet of laid-paper, the verso with an attestation of a descendant also named Samuel Sewall dated 1842. 8 x 7 inches (21 x 17 cm); framed with an engraved portrait of Sewall and with a pane on the verso revealing the attestation. Visible repair to horizontal split along fold, small loss and chip to lower corner, not removed from frame, lightly spotted but legible and with a dark, large signature; The balance of the materials are bound into an old book, half-calf and paste paper over boards. This Includes Vol. XIII No. 3 of the American Quarterly Register; frontispiece engraving, [237]-364 pp., with a mounted tintype, two mounted bromide photographs of houses in the Sewall family, and a few other family-related letters and papers. The volume worn with the first leaves detached, residue from adhesive, etc., the bound letter with tears, minor restorations, etc.

An interesting and touching letter of Judge Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) that was at one time tipped into a volume serving as a Sewall family genealogical compendium. The letter is remarkable in that, according to the attestation on the verso, it was begun before the death of Sewall's wife and completed after. Sewall here writes to his son Samuel of Brookline, Massachusetts. The letter was sent just after a series of "awfull changes" that have "passed over me," including the deaths of his second wife Abigail Tilley, his "worthy friend the Widow Hobart.. buried about 6 o'clock p.m. yesterday," and a beloved clerk: "Our ears tingle to hear of ye violent death of young Mr. Dowle Town Clerk of Charlestown; who was shot by Michael Gill accidentally as he was shooting at a bird as they were walking together by water." In addition to being the town clerk for Charleston, Sewall notes that Dowle was also a clerk for the proprietors of a tract of land known as the Land of Nod, of which Judge Sewall owned a large segment.

"He is very much lamented," Sewall writes. He closes with an intriguing bit of news: "Last night the cask was brought home that contained the last of your silver cooper's ...'Tis a mercy the pirates did not take them." Also notable about this letter is that it seems to have accompanied Sewall's well-known biographical letter that was written at his son's request.

Though he had begun its composition on April 21, 1720, it was not until August 26 that he completed this correspondence. He notes: "I have now sent it as I finished it this morning. Possibly, upon your suggestion, something may be added hereafter." An interesting August 19 1842 note on the verso of the letter provides some further details on the unfortunate events described, and the accompanying volume includes an article from the American Quarterly Register for February 1841 with a fine biography of Sewall, and a variety of other desiderata.

Samuel Sewall's father had first come to Massachusetts in 1635 and married there only to return to England until 1661. Born in England, Samuel Sewell was largely raised in Newbury Massachussetts where he was a Harvard classmate of Daniel Gookin. Sewall was a noted diarist and had been employed as the librarian at Harvard before becoming a freeman and eventually the official printer to the colony before entering politics. In 1692, Sewall was one of the nine judges appointed to the Court of Oyer and Terminer at Salem at the outset of the Salem Witch Trials. His diary is invaluable in that it recorded many of the events of the trials including the agonizing pressing death of Giles Corey. Following the trials, Sewall believed his role in the trials had brought upon him punishment from God as several of his children and other family members died shortly thereafter. In 1697 he remarkably stood up in the meeting house to read a confession of his guilt, the only judge to show this measure of repentance. The current letter speaks to the continued misfortune that fell unto Sewall in the years of his life following the Salem Witch Trials.

It is fitting to print the verse from Matthew 12:7 that is known to have swayed Sewall: "If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless."

Sold for $4,725
Estimated at $2,000 - $3,000

Includes Buyer's Premium


 

Estate / Collection: The Victor Gulotta Collection

SEWALL, SAMUEL

An important autograph letter signed from Judge Samuel Sewall to his son, with other Sewall family materials. The letter Boston: 26 August 1720. A one-page autograph letter signed "Samuel Sewall" on one sheet of laid-paper, the verso with an attestation of a descendant also named Samuel Sewall dated 1842. 8 x 7 inches (21 x 17 cm); framed with an engraved portrait of Sewall and with a pane on the verso revealing the attestation. Visible repair to horizontal split along fold, small loss and chip to lower corner, not removed from frame, lightly spotted but legible and with a dark, large signature; The balance of the materials are bound into an old book, half-calf and paste paper over boards. This Includes Vol. XIII No. 3 of the American Quarterly Register; frontispiece engraving, [237]-364 pp., with a mounted tintype, two mounted bromide photographs of houses in the Sewall family, and a few other family-related letters and papers. The volume worn with the first leaves detached, residue from adhesive, etc., the bound letter with tears, minor restorations, etc.

An interesting and touching letter of Judge Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) that was at one time tipped into a volume serving as a Sewall family genealogical compendium. The letter is remarkable in that, according to the attestation on the verso, it was begun before the death of Sewall's wife and completed after. Sewall here writes to his son Samuel of Brookline, Massachusetts. The letter was sent just after a series of "awfull changes" that have "passed over me," including the deaths of his second wife Abigail Tilley, his "worthy friend the Widow Hobart.. buried about 6 o'clock p.m. yesterday," and a beloved clerk: "Our ears tingle to hear of ye violent death of young Mr. Dowle Town Clerk of Charlestown; who was shot by Michael Gill accidentally as he was shooting at a bird as they were walking together by water." In addition to being the town clerk for Charleston, Sewall notes that Dowle was also a clerk for the proprietors of a tract of land known as the Land of Nod, of which Judge Sewall owned a large segment.

"He is very much lamented," Sewall writes. He closes with an intriguing bit of news: "Last night the cask was brought home that contained the last of your silver cooper's ...'Tis a mercy the pirates did not take them." Also notable about this letter is that it seems to have accompanied Sewall's well-known biographical letter that was written at his son's request.

Though he had begun its composition on April 21, 1720, it was not until August 26 that he completed this correspondence. He notes: "I have now sent it as I finished it this morning. Possibly, upon your suggestion, something may be added hereafter." An interesting August 19 1842 note on the verso of the letter provides some further details on the unfortunate events described, and the accompanying volume includes an article from the American Quarterly Register for February 1841 with a fine biography of Sewall, and a variety of other desiderata.

Samuel Sewall's father had first come to Massachusetts in 1635 and married there only to return to England until 1661. Born in England, Samuel Sewell was largely raised in Newbury Massachussetts where he was a Harvard classmate of Daniel Gookin. Sewall was a noted diarist and had been employed as the librarian at Harvard before becoming a freeman and eventually the official printer to the colony before entering politics. In 1692, Sewall was one of the nine judges appointed to the Court of Oyer and Terminer at Salem at the outset of the Salem Witch Trials. His diary is invaluable in that it recorded many of the events of the trials including the agonizing pressing death of Giles Corey. Following the trials, Sewall believed his role in the trials had brought upon him punishment from God as several of his children and other family members died shortly thereafter. In 1697 he remarkably stood up in the meeting house to read a confession of his guilt, the only judge to show this measure of repentance. The current letter speaks to the continued misfortune that fell unto Sewall in the years of his life following the Salem Witch Trials.

It is fitting to print the verse from Matthew 12:7 that is known to have swayed Sewall: "If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless."

Auction: Rare Books, Autographs & Maps including the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection, Nov 7, 2023

  • Successful Auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps Tops $1 Million!
  • November 7, 2023 Sale Featured the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection of Africana & Travel
  • Consignments Are Currently Being Accepted for Future Auctions


NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle's successful auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on November 7, 2023 topped $1 million amid competitive international bidding. Offerings in this popular sale spanned early illuminated manuscripts to modern literary first editions.

The Esmond Bradley Martin Collection of Africana and Travel comprised fascinating material that attracted bidders from around the world. Highlighting the collection was a copy of the first Latin edition of the earliest published collection of voyages, including those of Columbus and Vespucci: the 1508 Milan Fracanzo da Montalboddo, which achieved a strong $239,400. The collection also featured a rare uncut copy of Livio Sanuto's 1588 atlas of Africa that doubled its estimate at $25,200, as well as a group of 19th and early 20th century material relating to Zanzibar that attracted intense competition, sending the lots soaring over expectations. (Read more about Esmond Bradley Martin below.)

Property of other owners was highlighted by a first edition of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking scientific work, On the Origin of Species, 1859, which realized $94,500. This copy bore provenance of Charles Darwin's great-grandson Quentin Keynes, to the naturalist Richard Bayard Dominick, thence by descent to the consignor.

Robert Browning's first edition copy of John Keats’ poem, Endymion, 1818, sold for $37,800, many times its $7,000-10,000 estimate. The poem begins with the well-known verse, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever."

The selection of livres des artistes featured François-Louis Schmied's Daphne in a major Art Deco binding by Pierre Legrain, 1924, one of 140 copies. The book tripled its $8,000-12,000 estimate, selling for $32,760.

Manuscripts in the sale were highlighted by a medieval manuscript on paper, Calculus temporum Ecclesiasticus, which sailed past its estimate of $3,000-5,000 to achieve an exceptional $31,500. This fascinating calendrical manuscript in Latin, circa 1360, possibly English in origin, was once the property of antiquary and collector Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872).

100 years before the Revolution: from Plymouth Colony to the Salem Witch Trials - The Victor Gulotta Collection, offered a curated collection of 17th and 18th century manuscripts documenting life in colonial New England. Among the rarities were a 1691 document signed by two notorious Salem witch trials magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin that realized $5,670, a document from 1686/87 signed by Edmund Andros as Governor of the Dominion of New England that sold for $5,670, and a 1656 Boston court document relating to a divorce case that achieved $6,300, all three exceeding their estimates.

Esmond Bradley Martin

Esmond Bradley Martin (1941-2018) was educated as a geographer and philosopher. He and his wife Chryssee had an enduring fascination with Africa, and settled in Nairobi, Kenya, in the mid-1970s. He wrote extensively, oftentimes in conjunction with his wife, publishing works including Zanzibar. Tradition and Revolution, Hamish Hamilton, 1978; Cargoes of the east. The ports, trade, and culture of the Arabian Seas and western Indian Ocean, Elm Tree Press, 1978; and many other works on African history and conservation. In the late 1970s, he began extensive research into the illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, which included substantial stints incognito posing as a buyer of illicit wildlife products. For a while, he served as special envoy for rhino conservation for the United Nations. He continued this work until 2018 , when tragically he was stabbed to death in his Nairobi home

For about thirty years, beginning in the mid-1960s, Esmond Bradley Martin assiduously collected books and manuscripts on Africa and its history, acquiring a phenomenal collection of letters by many of the major English explorers of the nineteenth century, as well as numerous rarities from earlier centuries. He was buying at a time when troves of such material surfaced frequently at English auctions. Doyle was privileged to offer the first selection of his collection in the November 7 auction. A second and final portion will be offered early next year.


We Invite You to Auction!

Consignments are currently being accepted for future auctions. We invite you to contact us for a complimentary auction evaluation. Our Specialists are always available to discuss the sale of a single item or an entire collection.

For information, please contact Peter Costanzo at 212-427-4141, ext 248, or Edward Ripley-Duggan at ext. 234, or email Books@Doyle.com

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