Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2013 Issue

Hang Them High - Poor man’s dreams and rich man’s collections

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Shall we hang the landlords?

Just the other day, I came across the catalogue of a very impressive sale that took place in Drouot in December 2012. I noticed a peculiar detail about it, that made me laugh—a bittersweet laughter I must say. This sale was held by the famous Pierre Bergé Auction House and was entitled Utopistes & Révoltés (Utopists & Rebellious). It listed 249 items from Jean-Pierre Faur’s impressive collection about “La Commune”. Now, “La Commune” is a very special period in French history. From March to May 1871, the people of Paris rebelled against the legitimate government that had just surrendered to the Prussians to whom France had declared war the previous year. For two months, desperate and determined citizens fought the police in the streets of the capital with a rare fierceness. The repression was terrible, women and children were executed alongside men—but they were amongst the first ones to fight. To make it short, this event known as “La Commune” has become the cradle of French utopia, the ultimate reference to any serious anarchist.

 

A lot of stories are still told about these glorious days of guerrilla, such as this young boy who was running in the street carrying a Molotov Cocktail when a woman called for him: “Don’t go this way, my son,” she said. “The police are up the street.” The young boy smiled at her: “Then, that’s exactly where I want to go!” His body was later recovered on the sidewalk. This sale featured incredible documents related to this movement, including a copy of the rare Hurrah !!! ou la Révolution par les Cosaques (Londres, Octobre 1854). The author, Ernest Coeurderoy, was an apocalyptic soul who could not accept the failure of the revolution of 1848 and who eventually committed suicide in Geneva. His book is considered as a cornerstone of the rebellious spirit of the century. The appraisal was 5,000-6,000 euros. Some gorgeous posters from “La Commune” were also featured, which demonstrate how the people had organised themselves, free from any government. One of the most striking items remains the 119 original photographs compiled by the police to identify the rebels! They are beautiful by themselves, showing some dark people staring at the camera, wearing old-fashioned clothes. There’s something violent about them, some tension coming from these people. The policemen wrote some lines besides the portraits: “Tall and fat, limping because of pains in his back”, and the names of the “Communards” over the photographs. “Unique and very rare,” reads the catalogue. Estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 euros, I bet it went for more than that. Another compilation of portraits (all dating from the late 19th century) features those of several female “Communardes”, including the iconic Louise Michel who became famous for allegedly throwing Molotov Cocktails at the police from her motorcycle!  

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>

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