Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2012 Issue

An “ABC” from ReadInk

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A-B-C from ReadInk.

ReadInk of Los Angeles has issued Another Book Catalog (aka Number 3). As the cover image will quickly reveal, that title contains the initials ABC. This is an ABC, or alphabet book, though not one designed for the young folk. Among the letters, we find “B” is for “booze,” “D” for “deranged,” “H” for “homicide,” “V” for “vanity.” This is a collection of works often unusual, uncommon, deservedly or undeservedly forgotten, a cross-section of American writing from the early to middle of the 20th century. As in any era, a few works emerge as classics, and similarly you will find some that are well regarded today, though it may be the items that were popular in their time, but not ours, that are the most interesting. Indeed, if your great-grandchildren someday want to learn about the doings of the Kardashians, the American Idols, or why we were so concerned about gay marriage, some future ReadInk catalogue will probably be the source for their answer. This is who we were... and are.

We will start with one from the “B is for booze” category. The title of this 1935 gem edited by Sterling North and Carl Kroch is So Red the Nose; or Breath in the Afternoon. You might think from that title this is a temperance tome, but that is hardly the case. Instead, it is a cocktail recipe book, with the recipes purportedly supplied by many of the great writers of the day. These gentlemen needed no designated writers to turn out their masterpieces. Of course, you would expect Ernest Hemingway to be included, and you would not be disappointed. Others might not have been as evident, but there are contributions from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Erskine Caldwell, Alexander Woollcott, Rockwell Kent, and Theodore Dreiser. Some are tongue-in-cheek, or at least we hope so, since Dreiser's “American Tragedy Cocktail” includes gunpowder, nitroglycerine, gasoline and a lighted match. Don't try this at home, kids. Priced at $400.

From “C is for cowboy” we have the autobiography of the first major movie cowboy, William S. Hart. Hart was no singing cowboy, since he mostly starred in silent films, but he spent many of his early years roping and whatever else cowboys do in the Dakotas. Nonetheless, the title of Hart's 1929 book is My Life East and West. That's because Hart was born in Newburgh, north of New York City, hardly a western address. Actually, George Washington spent the early days of the Revolution there too, but it was a much tougher town in Hart's time than Washington's, when all he had to worry about were Redcoats. Newburgh, New York, is the Wild East. Hart would move on to Hollywood, where he parlayed his experiences into film stardom. He has inscribed this copy to his frequent co-star Jane Novak, with the comment “Scrub damn you scrub.” Presumably, this is a line from a film or some other in-joke. $600.

Next we go from a Hollywood cowboy to a Hollywood call boy. From “Q is for queer” we find the obsession with homosexuality was even greater in the last century than it is today. Much more so. Even attempts to be sympathetic in those days had to treat it as some kind of horrible derangement, to be pitied if not condemned. This 1967 paperback is entitled I am a Hollywood Call Boy, by Mark Shelby. “What sex AM I?” asks the protagonist. “I sell my body to the highest bidder – man, woman, faggot, lesbian, switch-hitter – or what have you! I commute from Sodom to Gomorrah. The sadists, the masochists, the voyeurs, the fetishists, the multi-perverts – I know them all – and they know me...and you can say that again!” I won't, because of space limitations, but you get the drift. This is not great literature (and you can say that again!), but it reflects its era as well if not better than the more notable works of the 60s. $50.

“I is for Incorporation,” and if corporations are people, this one is a very bad person. From 1949 we find E.E. Rice's book about that most infamous of “corporations,” Murder, Inc. Described as “The hair-raising story in pictures of America's bloodiest crime ring,” this book is filled with photos of notable criminals, on the streets, at trial, being arrested, occasionally dead or dying. You will get to meet all those legendary personalities whose names are associated with criminal enterprises of the day – Al Capone, Legs Diamond, Dutch Schultz, Frank Costello, and Lucky Luciano. If you want to invite these characters into your home, it is best to do so through pictures. $65.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.

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