Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2012 Issue

The First Catalogue from Honey and Wax Booksellers

Honeywax1

The first catalogue from Honey & Wax.

This month we received our first catalogue from Honey & Wax Booksellers of Brooklyn, New York. It is an unusual catalogue, with fold-out covers and wording on the cover I can't quite figure out whether it is the title or company motto. Either way, here it is: Use Books as Bees Use Flowers. Hm...let's see.. ah ha – they devour the nectar! That's my interpretation. Could be wrong. Honey and Wax is a fairly new book firm, but is operated by Heather O'Donnell, who brings years of experience in the trade. This is their first catalogue, but we hope to see many more. Traditional printed catalogues remain an important part of bookselling, even if this one is a bit untraditional in appearance.

In the introduction, headed “This is a story about the way we read now,” Ms. O'Donnell notes that paper books “are no longer our primary means of conveying information, and probably never will be again.” True enough, but how then do we preserve our heritage? That is a question future generations will have to answer as they delete old books from their electronic readers. Fortunately, we still have over five centuries worth of printed books to hold, cherish, and pass down to future generations. As she further observes, “They [books] satisfy our desire to own and handle well-made objects, to live among them, to give each other something lasting, rather than simply clicking 'share.'”

Honey & Wax booksellers specializes in literature, “with the occasional foray into the arts, specializing in unique copies: books from the libraries of writers and artists, rare first printings, quirky vintage editions, splendidly bound copies, books with no downloadable equivalent.” Here are a few from this first Honey & Wax catalogue.

We will start with what could fairly be called the first piece of English literature, as printed by the greatest of the fine private presses. This is the Tale of Beowulf, author unknown, perhaps dating to as early as the 8th century. It survived in a single manuscript, but did not make it to the press until the early 19th century. This copy is from the limited edition of 308 copies off William Morris' Kelmscott Press, hence its familiar name as the Kelmscott Beowulf. This work was a “labor of love” for Morris. The work was translated to prose by A.J. Wyatt, and then Morris returned the translated text to poetry, as was the original. Morris said of Beowulf, it was “the first and the best poem of the English race, [with] no author but the people.” He also claimed it was one of his most expensive productions and he lost money on the project. If he could have waited another 117 years (it was published in 1895), Morris would have done just fine. This copy includes the “Note to Reader” that was tipped in to it. Item 55. Priced at $8,200.

It is not unusual to see poets come off the mean streets, or the bohemian neighborhoods of cities. Rarely do they come from the executive offices of insurance companies. What rhymes with “amortization?” Wallace Stevens began working at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company in 1916, seven years before his first book of poetry was published, and would continue to do so for the remainder of his life, rising to Vice-President. On the side, he wrote poetry, and that is what he is remembered for today, not writing insurance policies. His reputation, though modest at first, grew with time, and he received a Pulitzer Prize in 1955, the year he died, for a collection of poetry. Item 36 is a first edition, first issue, first binding of Stevens' first book, Harmonium, published in 1923. The full-time insurance man was already 44 years old by then. This copy contains the bookplate of Annie Eliot Trumbull. Ms. Trumbull was a writer and Connecticut neighbor of Stevens who introduced him to the literary circles of the area in the days before he was a published writer. $6,200.

Items 73-80 are eight separate broadside promotions for Shakespearean plays in London, New York, and Philadelphia. They date from 1810-1857. Many featured the most notable actors and actresses of their day. The actress Mrs. Jordan makes her appearance on a broadside as well as on stage. Along with being a notable actress, she was even better known as the longtime mistress of the future King William IV. William was not expected to ever be King when he and Mrs. Jordan were together, so he was free to carry on his affairs as he pleased. Carry on his affairs he did, William and Mrs. Jordan having ten children together between 1794 and 1807. They broke up in 1811, and William became King in 1830. When William died in 1837, the crown passed to his niece, Victoria, since, ironically, he had no children (“legitimate” ones, that is). Another broadside features the greatest American Shakespearean actor of the mid-19th century, Edwin Forrest. The rivalry between Forrest and his working class and immigrant fans, against British Shakespearean actor William Macready and his upper class fans, led to the terrible Astor Place Riot of 1849. Followers of each fought each other outside the Astor Opera House, 20-30 people dying in the ensuing melee. Shakespeare would have been... dumbfounded? These 8 broadsides are priced from $500-$850 each.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Extremely Fine Copy of Fantasy Classic. Tolkien (J.R.R.) <i>The Hobbit, or There and Back Again,</i> L. (George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Museum Street) 1937. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Incunabula. [Sirectus, Antonius] O’Fihely (Maurice)Abp. <i>Formalitates de Mente Doctoris Subtilis Scoti Nec Non Stephai Burlifer cum novis additionibus…</i> Venice 14th December 1051 (ie. 1501). €3,000 to €4,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Original Book Illustrations by Pamela Leonard. Illustrations: Regan (Peter) Touchstone, 8vo D. (Mount Salas Press) 1989. €3,500 to €4,500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> [Petit (Jean), Prevel (Jean) & Gregory (Pope)] [Gregorius]. <i>Compendium Textuale Compillationis decretalium Gregorri noni sine qua…</i>, Paris [Dec. 1524]. €350 to €500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Excessively Rare – V. Fine Copy. [Mac Mahon]. <i>Jus Primatiale Armacanum, In Omnes Archiepiscopos, Episcopos, et Universum Clerum</i>… [n.p.] 1728. €750 to €1,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Madden (R.R.). <i>Travels in Turkey, Egypt, Nubia and Palestine in 1824, 1825, 1826 and 1827,</i> 2 vols. 1822. €500 to €700
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Early English Herbal. Gerarde (John). The Herball or General History of Plants, thick folio L. (John Norton) 1597. €700 to €1,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> The Tehran World War 2 Conference Photograph: [Tehran Conference 1943] An important and iconic Group Photograph showing Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. €80 to €120
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Natural History Specimens from Jersey Jersey Islands: Westacton [Mrs Acton] Collection of 53 original dried examples of Seaweed collected in Jersey, c. 1860. €300 to €400
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers:<br>Rare & Collectors’ Sale. May 2, 2018</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> Plyglot Bible: Hutteri (Eliae). <i>Biblia Sacra, Ebraice, Chaldaice, Graece, Latinae, Germanice, Sclavonice.</i> Lg. folio Nurimberg 1599. €250 to €350
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> The American Invasion 1888: “First Ever G.A.A. Hurling Match in America” Medal: G.A.A., The Invaders, 1888. €2,000 to €3,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, May 2:</b> “Babe” Ruth and the G.A.A. G.A.A. & Baseball: A unique and early Sporting Association. An original Spalding B12 Baseball Bat. €4,000 to €6,000
  • <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.

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