Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2012 Issue

Science, Americana, Literature and More from B & L Rootenberg

Rootenbergny2012

From the New York Fair.

B & L Rootenberg Fine & Rare Books recently prepared A Selection of Books Exhibited at the International Antiquarian Book Fair New York. Their catalogue is divided into four sections, (1) Science, Medicine, Natural History, Travel; (2) Americana; (3) Literature; (4) Incunabula, Bible & Theology. The greatest concentration is in the first category, science and medicine in particular. The books are most suitable for an antiquarian fair, as with a very few exceptions, they are old, 19th century and earlier, sometimes much earlier. Among the books offered are some of the greatest works ever published, particularly in the sciences. These are a few of them.

Here is a book that turned the Earth around, quite literally: De revolutionibus orbium... by Copernicus. This is the book that made the startling revelation that the Earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around. It confounded the common sense of observing the sun rise and fall each day, and contradicted established religious dogma. Somehow, Copernicus managed to get away with it all, although his successor would not. Offered is the second edition from 1566. Item 20. Priced at $150,000.

Item 50 comes from Copernicus' defender, the Italian astronomer Galileo. This is a 1632 first edition of his Dialogo... This book is presented as a dialogue between a defender of Copernicus' heliocentric system and the traditional Earth as center of the universe model. However, from the “discussion” it is obvious that Galileo believed in Copernicus' sun centered system. These views were not appreciated by the Church, which condemned Galileo and put him under house arrest for the remainder of his life. $100,000.

While Copernicus and Galileo accurately described what was going on, it was up to Isaac Newton to explain why. Newton developed his theories of motion and gravity which explained why the universe behaves as it does. He explained it all in his Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. Offered is a first edition, published in 1687. Item 88. $195,000.

Newton had his detractors. Item 87 is R.J. Morrison's The new principia; or, true system of astronomy, published in 1868 (second edition). Morrison had a different idea of truth than most of us. In his treatise, Morrison “disproves” Newton's theories, and establishes that the sun is only 365,006.5 miles from the Earth. This could explain global warming. $500.

Item 2 offers a cure for an age-old condition, as offered by an anonymous “Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.” The title of this 1883 book is, Kallos. A treatise on the scientific culture of personal beauty and the cure of ugliness. Rootenberg describes this as a “charming work on the causes and treatments of ugliness.” The author claims that businesses can benefit from having attractive employees, or as the bookseller points out, this is “probably not a politically correct book for today.” $400.

Talk about a day that will live in infamy... Item 132 is one of the first (if not the first) announcement of the United States Tax Law of 1862. This was the law that created the Internal Revenue Service and imposed the first income tax. Yes, you can blame Abraham Lincoln. This law was passed out of necessity. The government was running up large debts to pay for the Civil War and needed another source of revenue. The act created an income tax, which remained in place until it expired ten years later. An attempt to reimpose one in 1894 was struck down by the Supreme Court, leading to the 16th amendment, which legalized a permanent income tax in 1913. $2,000.

If there is just one book of poetry you would like to own, this is probably it. Item 137 is a first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1855). It is generally considered the quintessential collection of American poetry, a paean to America and democracy. It is also noted for being quite rare. $95,000.

B & L Rootenberg Rare Books may be reached at 818-788-7765 or blroot@rootenbergbooks.com. Their wesbite is www.rootenbergbooks.com.

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 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.

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