Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2011 Issue

Literature, History, Children's Books and More from Paul Foster Books


The latest from Paul Foster.

This month we received our first catalogue from Paul Foster Books, of London. It comes with a simple, four-digit title - 2011. There is no specific topic for the catalogue, but most of what we found was notable literary works, interspersed with children's books and historical accounts, plus an occasional work of science or social science. The literature includes first and early editions, along with later fine press versions or ones that included images from noted illustrators. Condition is obviously paramount in Foster's selection of books as much of what is found is at least near fine. Here are a few examples of the material Paul Foster has to offer.


Item 11 is an early Samuel Beckett novel, not published until 1953, though written during the war, when Beckett was still waiting for Godot to arrive in his imagination. The title is Watt, and while I have not read this one, reviews make it sound even more abstruse than Godot. Offered is an inscribed copy of the first American edition (1959) to Dan Pope, but this was originally a review copy sent to Time Magazine Book Editor Max Gissen. It contains some of Gissen's comments penciled in the margins. Priced at £3,750 (British pounds, or roughly $6,158 in U.S. currency).


Item 32 is the first printed-in-America edition of Lewis Carroll's bewildering Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The odd nature of this sort-of first American edition results from the unusual printing history of the book. When it was first printed in England in 1865, Illustrator John Tenniel was upset with the poor quality of the first edition printing. It was quickly suppressed and a replacement printed. However, the publisher was not about to throw money away, so the leaves were shipped to New York and used to create an American edition, printed in England. Hence this 1869 edition is the first printed in America. This book, a favorite of all ages for all ages, has been in print ever since. £1,750 (US $2,873).


Item 171 is a book from the dawn of the Progressive Era that may still have applications a century later. It is The Theory of the Leisure Class, by Thorstein Veblen, published in 1899. Veblen maintained that those most highly rewarded financially rarely contributed more than regular workers to industry's well being, and yet they siphoned off enormous amounts of money. They then used that money on worthless self-indulgence, buying expensive goods for prestige. It was Veblen who penned the expression commonly used to describe such behavior - conspicuous consumption. £1,875 (US $3,078).


Here is a jaw-dropping book:  Jaws, by Peter Benchley. This 1974 first edition is a novel about sharks and unpleasant encounters with the same. The story fueled many a nightmare when it was made into an enormously successful, graphic film of the same name. Item 13. £325 (US $533).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
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    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
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