Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2011 Issue

Decorative Bindings, Private Presses, and Other Fine Books from Phillip J. Pirages

Pirages59

Fine books and bindings from Phillip J. Pirages.

Catalogue 59 from Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts is entitled Historically Interesting and Decorative Bindings, Private Press Books, & other Special Printings. As the title suggests, these are books that also fit the category of works of art. Some are important books in their own right; others less significant works dressed up in elegant clothing. They range all the way from deluxe editions to bejeweled bindings of such elegance and extravagance it is hard to imagine that they house mere books. Most of the items offered are British in origin, though Pirages is located in Oregon. Well, Oregon was once a British possession, at least in the minds of the British. Here are a few samples from this catalogue which itself exudes elegance just as do the items described and pictured.

 

Item 111 is an 1817 first edition of Lalla Rookh:  An Oriental Romance, by Thomas Moore. This was a very popular romance in its day, the story of a young lady who travels to meet the prince to whom she has become engaged, falls in love with a poet along the way, and then discovers the poet is really her prince. Its popularity has not stood the test of time as well as, say, works by Shakespeare. So why is this book priced at $65,000? It's all in the ornamentation. It comes in what Pirages describes as "among the most wonderful modern bindings we have ever seen." Most notable are the 226 jewels embedded in the binding. Among the jewels are two rubies for eyes of a Bird of Paradise, 19 turquoises, nine bands of mother-of-pearl, 20 each blue chalcedonies and garnets, two amethysts, three sapphires, and so on. The binding is the work of Sangorski and Sutcliffe from the early 20th century.

 

Item 21 features a binding made for royalty. The book is Chorographia Britanniae, a 1742 atlas of English counties bound by John Brindley for Frederick Louis, the Prince of Wales. Brindley operated a bindery and bookshop in London, where he bound books for Frederick and his mother, Queen Caroline, as well as Isaac Newton and others. Frederick, on the other hand, never needed a real job, but was noted as a patron of the arts. He apparently detested his father, King George II, a feeling that was certainly mutual. It was of no great sorrow to his father that Frederick, though the first born, never became King. Dad outlived him, perhaps inspired to do so by his distaste for his son. However, Frederick's son, like his father, would be King, in this case George III, hated by revolutionary Americans as Frederick and George II despised each other. His great-granddaughter was one of England's most notable of monarchs, Queen Victoria. $9,500.

 

That note about Queen Victoria provides a segue to item 348. Private Lives of Kaiser William II and his Consort, supposedly written by one of his Empress' ladies in waiting and published in 1909. Private no more! This is a tell-all book that may not be entirely accurate, but does give a good look at German royalty at the time. Kaiser Bill does not come off well, being shown as "a vulgar, narcissistic philanderer" who flaunted his mistresses in front of his wife to prove his domestic independence. Kaiser William was the grandson of the aforementioned Queen Victoria, but would become the most hated man in England as he led his nation to war against grandmother's homeland, the First World War. $450.

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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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