Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2014 Issue

Stephan Loewentheil founder of the 19th Century Shop: a 3-decade perspective and an exceptional catalog to Celebrate 30 Years in the Trade

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Catalog No. 150:  Icons of Western Civilization

 

Catalogues tell stories, some complex and others simple.  Book catalogues, not so long ago, were all or mostly books.  Today, while books remain the bedrock of information transfer, they share the stage with manuscripts, maps, documents and photographs as over the decades precedence of appearance has increasingly trumped presentation and books, often early but often not the earliest introduction of an idea, have increasingly found themselves desired but not the most desirable.  For first references to seminal ideas manuscripts, letters, proof copies and photographs often if not always precede books.  If there are rules, they are conditional because our understanding and expectations adjust as we move back in time, our perception a changing Alice’s Looking Glass view. 

 

What we can expect to find in the 20th century is almost always fresh and complete, what we find from the 15th century more often manuscript or examples of early printing.  In between, however expressed or printed, the form is often less important than the ideas expressed, ideas that have themselves moved the world or signaled profound changes.  Once one is then freed from any specific form the pursuit of the iconic early or unique expression emerges as a logical way to understand and collect and this is where Catalogue 150 takes us – on a journey to and among Icons of Civilization.  It follows the ideas and in so doing leads us across a patchwork quilt of possibilities, equally comfortable with images, maps, books, and manuscripts.  And pursued to its logical end this is a form of collecting that changes as more information is gathered, an open ended pursuit of evolving perception.

 

Catalogues with great intentions are invariably the outcome of decades of experience.  I asked Stephan Loewentheil, the founder of the 19th Century Shop, to both look back and ahead.  At 64 he’s been collecting for 35 years, as a dealer selling for thirty and issuing on average 5 catalogs a year.  He has taken a path only occasionally seen, the trained lawyer who chooses not to practice, in his case initially to run a historical renovation project in Baltimore that later lead to a divided life, organizer/rebuilder by day and a committed book sleuth by night.  In time he and his wife Beth concluded he would try, for three years, to become a professional rare book dealer.  If it didn’t work out he would practice law.  Thirty years later his career is no longer pending confirmation.  If it was once the road less taken it has become the path by which he has excelled in a personally distinctive way, his interest in unearthing obscure bibliographic details leading to the acquisition of underappreciated rarities, seminal documents and early historic photographic images.

 

His more than three decades in the trade has seen the field of paper collectibles in flux as Internet awareness has increased what we know and often redefined collecting taste and methods.  “In the 1980s what we studied and sold was well understood.  Today we are continuously learning, unearthing new materials and new formats to be added to the great tradition of the book.  The process of and experience of change in the transmission of knowledge and collecting has affected the 19th Century Shop.  Simply stated, we are today refocused as the 19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop:  rare books, manuscripts, and photographs representing mankind’s greatest achievements.  The world is more focused on the crucial and the first and we have changed with it, expanding deeply into great manuscripts and photography.”

 

Deciding what is important is the life’s work of some of the greatest dealers:  the one hundred most influential books, the most important events, the earliest images that exist.  To put them into a catalogue also means you had to acquire them, looking for years and stepping ahead of others to reach these prizes one by one.  H. P. Kraus, the legendary New York book dealer did this several times and perhaps most memorably published Catalogue 185 that went so unappreciated virtually nothing sold for almost ten years.  Fabulous material doesn’t always catch the market’s immediate fancy.     

 

Choosing items from the tens of thousands acquired over a lifetime to be set aside for inclusion in a memorable catalogue to be presented years into the future, to we now know, celebrate thirty years in business and confirm his commitment to the collecting of important ideas and their earliest origins, this catalogue arrives at the very moment when the field now embraces seminal documents and works as the gold standard for important collections.  Catalogue 150 brings us up-to-date.  If Mr. Loewenthiel early perfected a vision of what a collection could be, with this 30th anniversary catalogue, he shows where his thinking is today.  And it’s remarkable: 

 

We are pleased to offer an unpublished Age of Discovery manuscript with otherwise unrecorded information by one of Columbus’s shipmates, the earliest known photograph of John D. Rockefeller, two exceptional copies of The Federalist, two of the greatest photographic publications of the 19th century (Barnard’s Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign and Russell’s The Great West), first editions of Newton’s Principia and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, signed photographs of Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Gardner, and many others. We offer the icons of civilization from throughout history—the books, manuscripts, and photographs that represent mankind’s greatest achievements.”

 

Here are descriptions for the 10 items illustrated in this article:

 

Lot 4. Eadweard Muybridge, Animal Locomotion (1887), first edition of this landmark of photography and technology. $120,000

 

Lot 14. (Christopher Columbus.) Important unpublished 1512 manuscript concerning the voyages to the New World by Columbus, Vespucci, and others. POR

 

Lot 22. The Federalist (1788), an exceptional copy of the first edition in original boards, signed by Roger Alden, whom George Washington entrusted with the original signed Constitution, $450,000


Lot 28. Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat (1896), first edition, presentation copy of the "Manifesto of Zionism" inscribed to Herzl's friend playwright Arthur Schnitzler. $160,000

 

Lot 60. Walt Whitman, Autograph manuscript comparing Leaves of Grass with works of Wordsworth and Bryant. $35,000

 

Lot 80. A. J. Russell, The Great West (1869), first edition, illustrated with 50 large-format albumen photographs documenting the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad and the land through which it ran. $325,000

 

Lot 88. Alexander Hamilton. Letter Concerning the Conduct and Character of John Adams (1800) "one of only a few copies printed for Hamilton as a private circular," one of the origins of the Hamilton-Burr duel, inscribed and signed by Hamilton. $70,000


Lot 122. Wernher von Braun, Signed drawing of a spaceship (1952), by the father of the American space program. $25,000

 

Lot 127. Emancipated Slaves albumen photograph (1863), one of the great American slavery photographs. $18,000

 

Lot 130. Isaac Newton, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), first edition of the Principia, "the greatest work in the history of science" (PMM), in an untouched contemporary binding. POR

 

What follows next is a downloadable version of this catalogue:

 

www.19thshop.com/catalogues  Download the complete catalogue.

 

The 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop

email: info@19thshop.com

 

Maryland
10400 Stevenson Road, Suite 100
Stevenson, MD 21153 USA

phone: (410) 602-3002
fax: (410) 602-3006

 

New York
446 Kent Avenue PH-A
Brooklyn, NY  11249  USA

phone: (347) 529-4534
fax: (347) 529-6779

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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