Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2013 Issue

Literature and Books of Merit from Whitmore Rare Books

Whitmore6

Literary firsts and more.

Whitmore Rare Books has issued their Catalogue 6, “offering literary first editions and other books of merit.” Literary works dominate the selection, but everything presented is meritorious, so what is not literature still fits the description. As “books of merit,” you will recognize most of these books or their authors. Their merit has been recognized. And, we will now recognize a few of the specific titles offered.

Item 28 is one of those iconic books of 20th century American literature, The Great Gatsby. There is not much to be said about it that is not already well known. It is a work of the “Jazz Age,” the “Roaring Twenties,” whatever one wants to call the era. F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his wife Zelda, lived the lifestyle to the fullest, supported by this and some earlier successes of Scott's writing. Offered is a first edition of Gatsby, published in 1925. The book was not a major success at the time, doing little to stop what was now a rapid downward spiral in the lives of the Fitzgeralds. Priced at $2,650.

By 1932, the Fitzgeralds' situation had deteriorated into complete chaos. Scott was drinking heavily, and Zelda's mind no longer functioned correctly. She had already spent a considerable time institutionalized in Europe when she entered psychiatric facilities at Johns Hopkins Hospital that year. However, it was at this time that Zelda grabbed her pen and wrote her only published novel (she was a published writer of magazine articles and shorter pieces). The result of her brief outburst of writing is Save Me The Waltz. While a work of “fiction,” the story largely parallels the lives of the Fitzgeralds. Scott was not pleased. He had been working for ages on a novel based on the same story (Tender is the Night), and demeaned Zelda's writing skills. Between that and disappointing sales, it must have only added to the burdens upon her troubled mind. Item 29 is a copy of Zelda's novel that belonged to Elizabeth Boyd, childhood friend of “Scottie” Fitzgerald, Scott and Zelda's daughter and only child. $5,000.

Speaking of 20th century American literary icons, if there is a book more iconic than Gatsby, it is this one: Gone With The Wind. This book is set in the South, from whence the Fitzgeralds came, but in the days after the Civil War, when antebellum splendor turned into the defeated's reality. Item 48 is a May 1936 first edition in a first issue dust jacket of Margaret Mitchell's classic. The copy has been signed by Miss Mitchell. $16,500.

Here is another important book, but for very different reasons. Sadly, it was not fiction. Jacob Riis came to America as a young man, lived in the slums of New York at first, got a job as a police reporter, and became both a photographer and reporter. He is particularly noted as a pioneer in flash photography, which allowed him to display images of some of the darker, seamier sides of New York City. Item 55 is a copy of his “muckraking” book from 1890, How The Other Half Lives. Riis focused particularly on Manhattan's tenements, places where immigrants lived in terrible squalor. People would be jammed into small tenement apartments, often large, extended families. They were frequently dark, dirty, and unsanitary. The terrible poverty would lead to other problems, heavy drinking in particular. Children would often spend their days working in the nearby sweatshops. Riis believed middle and upper class people did not realize how bad the conditions were in the slums, and with this book, which features both textual descriptions and Riis' photographs, he set out to make them understand. One of the people whose eye Riis caught, and became a follower of his mission, was a young Theodore Roosevelt, just working his way up in New York politics at the time. Riis' influence was obviously significant, as Roosevelt would go on to be a dedicated reformer. Item 55. $1,850.

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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