Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2010 Issue

The Bookseller's Cabinet from Jeff Weber Rare Books

Weber163

A Gutenberg leaf on the cover of Jeff Weber's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Jeff Weber Rare Books has published their catalogue #163: Bookseller's Cabinet. There is much to be found on a variety of subjects in Weber's cabinet. Listed topics include early printed books, literature, Americana and the West, art and architecture, bibliography and fine printing, travel, archeology and cartography. Here are some of the titles to be found on the shelf.

We will start at the beginning of the catalogue, item 1, as it represents the beginning of books. It is a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed book, which came off the press in (or close to) 1455. The leaf can be seen on the cover of this catalogue. The printing was a mammoth undertaking that left Gutenberg broke, and would do the same for anyone who attempted to buy a complete copy today (no complete Gutenberg has been sold in over three decades). Around 180 were printed. Just under 50 are known to survive, with fewer than half of these complete. While Gutenberg and his press in Mainz, Germany, were alone in 1455, by the end of the century, there were several hundred print shops around Europe. The technology spread rapidly, changing how people communicated for over 500 years, no real alternative developing until… a few years ago? The page here offered is taken from the Book of Samuel. Priced at $85,000. By the way, a complete Gutenberg contains 636 leaves, which would imply a value of $54 million for a complete copy. Hard to know, as we are unlikely to see another copy on the market any time soon.

An inscribed first edition of Gone With The Wind is a costly item (though not like a Gutenberg), but here is a reasonable alternative. Item 46 is Eo Vento Levou, the Brazilian first edition of this classic. This first was published in 1940. It's hard to imagine what Brazilians who read this book thought typical Americans were like. This copy has been inscribed by author Margaret Mitchell to the Atlanta Historical Society. This society would be a logical recipient of a gift from Miss Mitchell as her father had once been its president, but why a copy in Portuguese is unclear. It apparently was never read. $1,750.

Item 51 is another great piece of American literature, a first edition of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939. There is no need to describe the book's contents, as you almost surely are familiar with it. Instead, we will describe its condition, or better yet, let Weber describe it: "This copy…is the finest copy anyone has ever seen… For any collector of John Steinbeck's books, this copy is the apotheosis and would be a crown jewel of their collection." Steinbeck collectors take heed! The description applies to book and dust jacket alike. $10,000.

Keeping one wife happy can be a great challenge to man. If you have 55, you are almost certain to have a few who are displeased. Probably the least happy of Brigham Young's wives was Ann Eliza Young, who two years after her divorce in 1873 published Wife No. 19, The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Expose of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy. Evidently Ann Eliza was not easy to please as she divorced her other two husbands too. The accuracy of her title is also in question, as she has also been calculated to be wife number 27 or wife number 52 (there is some question as to how many of Young's "marriages" were really considered as such). She was certainly a latter day wife, marrying him in 1869 when Young was 67 and she was 24. As this book attests, Ann Eliza became a spokesperson against polygamy and for women's rights, as well as being a vocal critic of the Mormon Church, which excommunicated her. Item 231. $225.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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