Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2007 Issue

In The News: Cannibals, The Potters, Bushwacked

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A touching note from the first President Bush to the forgotten son is up for sale.


By Michael Stillman

Proving that authors are most dedicated to their research, aspiring writer Jose Luis Calva was arrested in his home in Mexico City last month for the murder of his girlfriend. Reportedly, parts of her body were found in a closet, cereal box, refrigerator, and, oh no, a frying pan. DNA has since shown the meat in the frying pan to be human flesh, and it matches parts missing from girlfriend Alejandro Galeano's dismembered body. Before you rush to judgment on Mr. Calva, it appears that if the allegations are true, he may simply have been conducting research for his next book. He reportedly told police he is an aspiring horror writer. A manuscript was found in his apartment entitled Cannibal Instincts. This incident will undoubtedly enable Calva to quickly find a publisher and his book will soon be on the bestseller lists. He will receive boxes of letters to his prison cell from women seeking marriage. Calva, who was bloodied in an unsuccessful attempt at escape, is also a suspect in the earlier killing of a prostitute whose body parts had been discovered in a bag on the street, undoubtedly missing a few pieces. A literary Jeffrey Dahmer he is.

As long as we are on the subject of human body parts, Christie's announced the results of a successful auction on October 5 entitled Anatomy as Art. A total of 208 out of 229 lots of anatomical atlases and such sold, bringing in almost $1,450,000. At the top of the list was Hierinn sind begriffen vier büücher von menschlicher Proportion, a 1528 work by Albrecht Durer, wherein the great German illustrator used his mathematical skills to create accurate proportions of the human body. There is no hint whatsoever that Durer ever ate any of his subjects when he was through drawing them.

A Christie's auction of October 25 proved that you can make a lot of money with new books, provided you pick the right one. A copy of the first issue of the first edition of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, sold for a remarkable $40,236. This book is all of ten years old. Another $6,141 was spent on Ian Fleming's 1947 pre-Bond poem, Ode to Sister Potter. She was Fleming's nurse when he was stricken with pneumonia. Based on the age difference, we doubt she is Harry's sister.

Divorce is rarely pretty, particularly when famous names are involved. However, it may result in some unexpected collectibles showing up on the market, such as a presidential letter. In 2003, presidential son and brother Neil Bush and his wife of 22 years, Sharon, were divorced. It was messy. Neil Bush admitted to adultery and, according to Sharon, informed her by email of his desire to seek a divorce. What Al Gore wrought when he invented the internet! Neil had something of a checkered past with unsuccessful businesses. His most notable failure was as a Director of Silverado Savings and Loan of Colorado, one of the mega bank failures of the late 1980s, early 1990s. The losses were around a billion dollars, still a substantial sum of money at the time. Bush had to pay $50,000, the taxpayers the rest. Some believe Neil may have considered a run for Governor of Colorado when his brothers were planning similar runs in Texas and Florida, but this scandal ended his political career. However, he continued to do fine personally despite few businesses successes, helped by family friends always able to find suitably well-compensated employment for him.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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