Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2012 Issue

Exceptional Literary Works from Whitmore Rare Books

Whitmore4

Charles Dickens on the cover of Whitmore's Catalogue 4.

This month we received our first catalogue from Whitmore Rare Books of Pasadena, California. Whitmore Rare Books is operated by Dan Whitmore, one of many in the trade who made the transition from collector to bookseller. It explains why booksellers generally appreciate the goods they sell in ways not often seen with general merchants. As the Whitmore website explains, “We were raised on great books, as essential to us as bread, and we seek to share that passion with anyone of like mind.”

Whitmore describes its mission as “offering the most important books of the last five centuries in uncompromising condition.” Its major focus is on literary first editions and other “books of merit.” Condition is usually exceptional for a book's age, many described at least as “near fine,” with dust jackets in unusually good shape as well. This latest catalogue, Whitmore's Catalogue 4, lives up to these expectations. Here are a few samples of what we found within its pages.

We will start with one of the all-time favorite books among both children and adults, not an easy double to reach. When Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll, wrote what became Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it was really meant to be read by a few children he knew. It was far too good for just that. Lewis' book was taken to Macmillan in London, illustrations were entrusted to John Tenniel, and in the summer of 1865, the pages were printed for binding. Forty-eight copies were bound and given out when Tenniel, displeased with the printing quality of his illustrations, called a halt to the process. The distributed copies were recalled, and all printing halted until the quality could be made satisfactory. Meanwhile, Macmillan retained pages for 1,952 inferior copies. What do you do with them? The answer was easy. Ship them off to America where they won't notice the difference. Item 16 is a copy of that edition, variously described as the first American edition, first edition second issue, or second edition. The British first is practically unknown, making this the first obtainable edition. Priced at $8,000.

Item 5 is a masterpiece for collectors of Oscar Wilde, the premier edition of what is generally considered his greatest work, The Importance of Being Earnest. It is a farce, a comedy where important things are treated as trivial, and vice versa. When it first opened in the London theater in 1895, it met with critical acclaim, and yet it did not run for long. Wilde's personal issues, notably homosexual encounters, were not helpful in that era. Wilde would get embroiled in legal conflicts, end up in jail, and exile. He never wrote another comedy or drama. Offered is the signed, limited, first edition of 1899, one of just 12 copies in a full vellum binding and vellum pages. $55,000.

Item 10 is a thorough collection of the works of one of America's first important novelists, James Fenimore Cooper. Noted for his tales of the frontier, Cooper's books were well-received not just in America, but Europe and other lands where they were translated to many languages. Offered is a set of the 33-volume Author's Autograph Edition of Cooper's works, published from 1895-1900. That may sound odd. How could there be an author's autograph edition when Cooper died almost 50 years before it was published? The answer is that it includes a page of text in Cooper's hand, 44 lines with corrections from his 1848 book Oak Openings. $17,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <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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