Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2012 Issue

Books from a Concord Bibliophile from Sotheran's

Sothconbib

From a Concord Bibliophile's library.

Henry Sotheran Ltd., aka Sotheran's, has issued a catalogue From the Library of a Concord Bibliophile. Sotheran's being from London, you might think this would be a Concord in England, but no, the library belonged to a collector from Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Percy Whiting Brown was the descendant of early Massachusetts settlers. He began work for a financial firm near his home turf in eastern Massachusetts, but after a few years he was sent to Cleveland to open an office. That is where he remained, though his heart, or at least his collecting interests, remained close to Concord. Brown was an active book collector, at one time President of the Rowfant Club. He put together a notable library, including Massachusetts history and English and American literature.

Percy Brown died in 1958 at the age of 71. Most of his library was sold to a bookseller. However, his family kept a few of his books, and it is 18 of those from Brown's collection that are offered by Sotheran's today. These remained in his family until recently when one of his descendants decided to offer them for sale. Here are some of them.

Since Percy Whiting Brown was himself an author, we will start with one of his books. He wrote a number of pieces on his native territory, this one being History of Rowe, Massachusetts. Rowe is a small, rural town in western Massachusetts, and Brown's family built a summer home there when he was young. This 1921 first edition was privately printed, and probably in a small quantity. Several later editions have since been printed as this is regarded as a “standard history” for the little town. Item 12. Priced at £125 (British pounds, or approximately $201 in Yankee dollars).

Item 7 is a book-length poem, a satire from the pen of James Russell Lowell. However, this first edition, released in 1848, was published anonymously, the writing attributed to “a Wonderful Quiz.” Lowell was a poet, though not one of those best remembered now, along with being an essayist, and later in life, American Ambassador to Spain and England. This satire, A Fable for Critics, which was later published under his actual name, is probably his most notable work. It includes rhymes about the works of the great (and not so great) poets of the day. Most descriptions combine the good and the bad of the writer, such as, for Edgar Allen Poe, “There comes Poe with his raven, like Barnaby Rudge, / Three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge.” A review of the then anonymous work Poe wrote in his role as reviewer indicates he was not particularly amused by Lowell's humor. Lowell supported many causes, including abolition, temperance, and women's rights, though these may have been more a reflection of his activist wife's encouragement than very deep convictions. This copy of his fable comes with a check for $119 made out to Lowell and endorsed by him on the back. £495 (US $797).

Here is a book with both a poetic connection and one to Percy Brown's family. Item 2 is The Obligations of Parents to Give their Children a Virtuous Education, and to Provide Schools for this Purpose... This was an 1820 sermon by the Massachusetts clergyman Ezra Ripley. Ripley was a strong believer in education and the role parents played in assuring that was provided to their children. The sermon was delivered on the opening of three new schools. Ripley married the widow of his predecessor at the Concord church, William Emerson, and as such became the step-grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson admired his step-grandfather and for a time lived with him. This copy is inscribed by Ripley to “John Brown junr.” Rev. Ripley married Percy Brown's great-great-grandparents. John Brown Jr. was Percy Brown's grandfather (without the greats). The book has been in the Brown family since it was presented almost two centuries ago. £1,250 (US $2,012).

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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