Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2012 Issue

Antiquarian and Fine Books from Phillip J. Pirages

Piragescafair2012

Books from the fairs.

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts printed A Sampling of Our Items at the California Antiquarian Book Fairs. The fairs are over, but the books, some of which have been around almost five centuries, live on. There is a mix of material in this selection, but most falls into the categories of either fine press/manuscripts or bindings, or classic antiquarian titles. Exceptional condition is a common element of the material throughout. This catalogue is an excellent source for those who collect at a high level. Here are a few examples.

Item 18 is a book that combined science and art like few others ever have. It is John James Audubon's The Birds of America. Over an 11 year period, Audubon drew his birds in exquisite, and artistic, detail. The drawings were works of art, even if his intention was to accurately portray nature to his readers. The first edition, in the huge double-elephant folio size, was finished in 1838. That book is the most expensive printed work ever sold at auction, selling for many millions of dollars whenever it comes up for sale. Unfortunately, it didn't make much money for Audubon. It was so expensive to produce that few could afford to buy it. Audubon decided he needed to offer a smaller, more affordable edition of his work. Offered is a set of that first, smaller octavo edition, published from 1840-44. This edition proved to be far more successful financially for its creator. Priced at $95,000.

Here is another work that apparently also is very attractive, but perhaps its title explains its lesser appeal: A Practical Treatise on the Breeding Cow. It is bound in half calf, no pun, I'm sure, intended. This 1833 work by Edward Skellett includes 13 striking hand-colored folding plates, “showing the various stages of bovine gestation and presentation.” Pirages notes it is “A Guide to pregnancy and delivery in cows that is unusually fine, unsurprisingly rare, and unexpectedly beautiful.” Item 57. $850.

Next we will take spectacular appearance to another whole level. Item 30 is a 1903 limited edition of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline. It was printed, and illuminated throughout, on vellum. Then it was bound in a spectacular Cosway-style brown morocco binding by Riviere & Son. Finally, it has been adorned with 14 fine oval miniatures painted on ivory under glass. The artist, Pirages notes, was almost certainly the renown Cosway and fore-edge artist Miss C.B. Currie. It is probably safe to say this book was not meant for reading. $85,000.

For those who find the above too conservative, there is a Sangorski & Sutcliffe bound copy of Thomas Moore's Lalla Rookh: An Oriental Romance. The book itself may not be a great masterpiece, but the binding is mind boggling. It's a virtual jewelry store. It contains rubies, amethysts, turquoises, chalcedonies, garnets, sapphires, and bands of mother of pearl. Altogether, the binding contains 226 jewels. There is even a hand-painted Cosway-style portrait on ivory of the author. The book itself is an uncommon 1817 first edition, but not so uncommon as this binding. Item 36. $55,000.

Item 117 is an item that will appeal to collectors of angling, and in particular, of the classic of all classics in the field, Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler. It is a collection of 180 copies of the book, including 162 editions (and a few related works), in 208 volumes! They start from 1655 (second edition) and run through 2003. Pirages notes the collection contains the vast majority of all printings, including all but two of 16 editions published before 1800, “rare translations, illustrated versions, and hard-to-find reprints...all in excellent condition.” $120,000.

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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