Recent Acquisitions of Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
A short while ago, Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books mailed out a pamphlet of "Recent Acquisitions." While an occasional newer book may slip through, most of what you will find in a Shapero catalogue is very old. Most were published in the period from the 16th through the 18th centuries, and while there are some items for collectors of Americana, they tend to be earlier European Americana. Here are a few samples of Shapero's "recent acquisitions."
America was not the only place fireworks were being set off in the year 1776. That was the year Sir William Hamilton published his Campi Phlegraei. Observations on the Volcanoes of the Two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London. Over the preceding four years, Hamilton climbed Vesuvius 22 times, often at great risk, and with the help of the artist Fabris, produced a series of drawings of volcanic eruptions. Item 32. Priced at £75,000 (British pounds).
If volcanoes are not your preferred type of calamity, how about earthquakes? Item 25 is a group of five pamphlets from 1756-1781 which describe 18th century European earthquakes. One covers a particularly destructive earthquake which struck Constantinople in May 1766. £1,500.
Item 36, Vom Tantzenn obs Gott... is a 1545 defense of dancing. Author Jacob Ratz engaged in a debate with Melchior Ambach over whether the Bible permitted dancing. Ratz was the more liberal one who felt God permitted the activity. Ultimately, Ratz' position became the more widely accepted, which is why we have disco today. £1,750. There were also some more serious theological debates taking place around this time. Item 4, Ain schoener Dialogus... by an anonymous writer is a supposed debate between a monk and a peasant over the positions of Martin Luther. The book was written just as these opinions were starting to take hold, in 1525. £1,950.
The battles between the Islamic world and the Christian world are hardly anything new. Perhaps this is why they are so hard to resolve. In earlier times, the Christians generally did not fare so well, but the Battle of Lepanto was an exception. This was a naval battle off the coast of Greece in 1571 where the navies of various European states routed that of the Ottoman Empire, providing some temporary relief from Ottoman advances. Historia delle Cose Successe... by Pietro Contarini, published in Venice in 1572, retells the great success of the Venetian navy and its allies. Item 16. £1,850.