Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2010 Issue

Science and Astronomy from Jeff Weber Rare Books

Weber159

Science and astronomy from Jeff Weber Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

This month we received our first catalogue from Jeff Weber Rare Books of Glendale, California. This is number 159 in their series, titled Rare Science and Astronomy Books. Weber specializes in science, and while this particular catalogue is focused on astronomy, others feature different topics within the field. Some of these books will be rather technical, while others are aimed more at the layman looking to expand his/her horizons. There is an enormous amount of knowledge and discovery in this catalogue - 418 tomes on the latest information of the day, though that day may range from a few years past to centuries ago. These are some samples of the material you will find.

While the names of many of the scientists who have contributed to this catalogue are not well known outside of their fields, we will start with the great work of a man everyone knows: Charles Darwin. Darwin, of course, came up with the explanation as to how the various species of plants and animals got to where they are today, a theory most controversial as it conflicted with many deeply held preconceived notions. Item 76 is a copy of the first American edition, published in 1860, of his earth shattering book On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection. Many regard this as the most important scientific work of the 19th century. It had already proven to be an instantaneous top seller by the time the American edition came out, only a few short months after the first edition. Priced at $5,000.

As big a selling success as the Origin was, here is a Darwin title that sold even faster than that one: The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms with observations on their habits. That doesn't sound like it would be more popular, though it was certainly less controversial. It was his last scientific book and the last work published during his lifetime. Darwin had joked about going to join the worms about which he wrote. Actually, he had been fascinated by the creatures for decades, having first written about them long before he conceived the Origin. This book provided the summary of his learning about these animals he considered exceedingly important to the environment, and at least semi-intelligent. Item 75. Published in 1882. $150.

Somewhat forgotten along the way is that Darwin did not publish the first paper on evolution, at least not on his own. Darwin developed the theory first in the early 1840s, but sat on it, somewhat fearful of public reaction. In the 1850s, Alfred Russel Wallace developed a theory of evolution very similar to Darwin's separately. It was on hearing from Wallace that Darwin realized he must finally publish his theories or be left behind. The result was that he and Wallace published the first description of their theory jointly in 1858. Item 389 is Wallace's autobiography, published in 1905: My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions. Item 389. $400.

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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