Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2012 Issue

A Miscellany from Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts

Pirages63

A miscellany from Phillip J. Pirages.

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts is now offering their Catalogue 63: A 19th and 20th Century Miscellany, including many modest items. We presume those “modest” items refer to modestly priced items, rather than being some kind of a moral judgment. Pirages provides us with a striking catalogue, filled with thorough descriptions and images, despite there being over 500 items presented. This is accomplished by creating a catalogue the size of a medium-sized telephone book, 308 pages in all. The material is sufficiently varied to make it difficult to describe, so we will stick with the bookseller's description - a “miscellany.” You might find anything here, sort of like that telephone book. Here is a look at about 1% of what is offered.

Here is one of those apparently “immodest” books, though one would hardly think so considering the original recipient was a man of the cloth: Letters of James Boswell, Addressed to the Rev. W.J. Temple, Now First Published from the Original MSS. James Boswell, more often just known as “Boswell,” was a Scottish lawyer and writer whose lasting impact comes through the biography he wrote of the English lexicographer and wit Samuel Johnson. Boswell managed to get into the literary circles of his time which allowed for his association with Johnson. The Rev. Temple was a personal friend through most of Boswell's life, and these letters reveal more about his inner thoughts. The letters were first published here in 1857, over 60 years after Boswell died. A tipped in letter from an earlier owner, Lady Amscott-Ingilby, notes that this book is not recommended “for the young ladies' reading” on account of its indecencies. Item 82. Priced at $275.

Mark Twain found humor in just about everything. Here is an exception. He often found himself in a financial squeeze, so one thing he did not appreciate was someone else exploiting his name for their financial gain. In 1902, the Boston publisher Small, Maynard & Company printed an item called The House Party, purporting to contain stories submitted by 12 writers from a list of 25. They were published anonymously, and readers were invited to send in their guesses as to who wrote each. The first to correctly identify the authors was to receive a $1,000 prize. However, submissions had to be made on a form bound into The House Party. In other words, you had to pay to play, by buying the publication. An angered Twain wrote an article condemning the scheme for the North American Review, which he titled The Game as Played Up North. Item 117 is the autograph manuscript of this article. He had contacted 16 of the authors and found they either had not participated in the writing, or did not realize there would be an element of gambling involved. In his article, Twain condemns the scheme as being an illegal lottery with but a slim chance of winning. He then goes into what really bothered him, that his name was being used without his permission. The manuscript was sent to Clara Spaulding Stanchfield, a childhood friend of his wife and now a close family friend. The text is signed twice as “Mark Twain,” while the cover letter to Stanchfield is signed with Twain's actual initials, SLC. The article was never published. $20,000.

Here is a book that used every word you could possibly imagine, though most but once. This, naturally, would be a dictionary. Item 489 is the most important American dictionary ever published, the 1828 first edition of Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language. It contains 70,000 entries, all compiled by Webster himself. There were only 2,500 copies printed of the first edition, but Webster's work has gone on to be likely the best selling book ever originating in America. $22,500.

Here is a subject that doesn't often warrant its own book: Documents Relative to an Investigation of the Manner in which the Funeral of the Late Matthew Boulton, Esq. Was Furnished. Pirages explains that this item arose from “a lawsuit with attendant publicity that mushroomed to ridiculous proportions.” One George Lander had been hired to furnish headbands and scarves for the funeral of Matthew Boulton, who died in 1809. Apparently the quality was not very good, but even more upsetting to Boulton's only son, Matthew Robinson Boulton, was the bill – almost £545. That may not sound exorbitant until you realize that in today's currency, that is the equivalent of £31,000 or $50,000. Along with suing Lander, the younger Boulton made the public aware of the injustice in this pamphlet, which provides details of comparative pricing to make its point. Item 84. $350.

George Lander was not about to allow his good name to be besmirched, so he responded (also in 1811) with An Answer to the Pamphlet of Matthew Robinson Boulton, Esq. of Soho. Both of these pamphlets are quite rare. By the way, the deceased senior Mr. Boulton was a wealthy man, a business partner of inventor James Watt who made major advances in the design of steam engines. Item 85. $350.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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>

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