Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2011 Issue

Samples from the Show from Antiquariat Banzhaf

Banzhafny2011

From the New York Fair.

Antiquariat Banzhaf, together with Antiquariat Michael Kuhn, published a pamphlet for their recent attendance at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. It is not a large list of items, just representative of the type of material brought from Germany. Most of the material is quite old, and its significance sufficient to warrant such a long trip over the ocean. Here are a few selections from this pamphlet of selections.

 

Item 11 is a manuscript (apparently unpublished) on military actions in wars of liberation by a German prince, but one whose life is best known for its connection to America. Maximilian of Wied was not of such high royalty as to become king of anything; he was the eighth child of a count. Nonetheless, it provided sufficient income and social status for Maximilian to become both educated and a respected member of the military. He rose to the rank of major during the Napoleonic Wars. However, Maximilian was primarily a naturalist, so shortly after leaving the military, he traveled to Brazil, later returning home to write about what he saw. Still, it was his next exploration, 15 years later, that was his most notable. Maximilian, along with Swiss painter Karl Bodmer, traveled to North America in 1832. He and Bodmer traveled around the American Plains, including a trip up the Missouri River. Maximilian kept notes about the places he saw, and in particular, wrote about the Indian tribes he met and their customs. His description of the North American Plains Indians is one of the best available of them at a time when Western influences were just starting to affect their culture. It is not known who wrote this manuscript, possibly a scribe or Maximilian himself, sometime after 1828. Priced at $29,000.

 

Here is one more quite impressive manuscript. It is an album of 233 botanical watercolors with manuscript notes and captions. It was prepared by an unknown artist in England from 1845-1847. Most plants are from the vicinity of Thornton-le-Dale in Yorkshire, though several other locations are represented. The cataloguers note that the work is of at least a semi-professional hand. Item 14. $12,000.

 

Item 3 is a polygraph. You might be wondering what a lie detector is doing in a bookseller's catalogue. You might also wonder how this circular device would extract the truth from people. Perhaps slicing the edge against your skin to until you blurt out the truth? Well, it turns out that this polygraph has nothing to do with the more familiar type that supposedly can tell when you are lying. It is a wheel-like device with various numbers and cutaways that was used for graphic and architectural design. I'm not sure how it works, and my German does not make it any easier to understand the directions for this circa 1930s Berlin device. $1,200.

 

Johann Griendel von Ach is hardly as famous as Robert Hooke, though much of their work was similar. Hooke came first, and precedence counts. Nevertheless, Griendel perfected his microscope only a few decades after Hooke, and apparently it was an improvement on Hooke's. His book, Micrographia Nova, published in 1687, was probably the first German work to illustrate microscopic objects. Like Hooke's earlier work, Griendel has provided us with grotesque enlargements of insects, along with plants, textiles, and more. Item 15. $4,000.

 

This book could be labeled Hell on Earth. It is Theatrum Diabolorum. The booksellers describe this as a natural history of the Devil working on Earth. The Devil is not generally thought to be the subject of a "natural history." Editor Feyerabend collected various stories about appearances or activities of the Devil on Earth and presented them, perhaps as a warning to all good people. Devilish activities such as gambling, drugs, prostitution, money lending and dancing are also described. This is a first edition of this compendium, published in 1569. Item 22. $13,000.

 

Antiquariat Banzhaf may be reached at 0049-(0)7071-552314 or Antiquariat-Banzhaf@t-online.de.

Rare Book Monthly

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