Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2012 Issue

75 Incunables from Shapero Rare Books

Shapero75inc

75 Incunables.

Shapero Rare Books has issued a spectacular catalogue of very special books. The title is 75 Incunables from the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, located in Amsterdam, was created by Dutch businessman Joost Ritman. It is a library with tens of thousands of volumes pertaining primarily to the Christian Hermetic tradition. This combines pre-Christian ancient philosophical traditions with Christian perspectives. This small selection of items from the library are among the earliest of printed works, “incunables” being books printed between Gutenberg (circa 1455) and 1499. While one might expect such early printing to be rough, in reality, it offers some of the finest and most artistic works ever to come off of a press. They feature rubricated lettering, woodcuts, and hand-colored illustrations. These books are works of art, along with being treatises on philosophy, theology, and occasionally other concerns of the day. Here are a few of these 75.

We will start with item 1, just the fourth book ever printed, and the first by a named author. The book is Rationale divinorum officiorum, by Guillelmus Durandus. Though this is one of the earliest books ever printed, it being dated October 6, 1459, Durandus was not around to appreciate this marvel of modern technology. He lived in the 13th century, and the book was written almost two centuries prior to publication. Durandus writes about church liturgies and the symbols and meaning of the rituals a part thereof. Its importance in its time is seen by how quickly it was brought to the new mass medium of print. This edition was printed by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer of Mainz. Fust was the financial backer of the inventor of printing, Johannes Gutenberg, and Schoeffer was his most skilled collaborator. Schoeffer married Fust's daughter. When Gutenberg was unable to repay his obligations to Fust, the latter successfully sued for possession of Gutenberg's press, and he and Schoeffer partnered in printing some of the earliest post-Gutenberg books. Priced at €750,000 (euros, or approximately $943,160 in U.S. dollars).

Item 2 is the Biblia latina, just the fourth Bible printed, and it too came from the press now of Fust and Schoeffer. It was dated August 14, 1462, and was set from the text in the Gutenberg Bible. However, this Bible was set in 48 lines rather than 42. It was the first Bible to name its printer and the place and date of printing, it, naturally enough, coming from Mainz. Price on request.

Item 6 is a first edition of De antiquitate Judaica. Be bello Judaica, published in 1470. These are the two works on the history of the first century Jews by Flavius Josephus. Josephus was a Jew at the time of the “Jewish Wars” herein described, a controversial survivor of the fall of Jerusalem who became a Jewish Roman. As such, he wrote the history of the Jews and their downfall in the Holy Land, which is itself a rare surviving account of the time. This illuminated edition came from the press of Johann Schussler of Augsburg. €450,000 (US $565,900).

Item 16 is a first edition of Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, by Beda Venerabilis. This is the history of the English church as recounted by the Venerable Bede. This is very early English church history, as Bede wrote during the 8th century. It covers the period from the Roman conquest under Caesar to the time Bede wrote. While ostensibly a church history, the book is most noted for providing a general history of England through these roughly seven centuries. This is a period of time from which very few resources are available, making this an important source of English history. This first edition was printed no later than 1475. €80,000 (US $100,600).

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

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions