Asher Rare Books and the Antiquariaat Forum have published a 2013 February List. It was released just in time for the annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair. This catalogue has an international flavor, a mix of material representing many nations. That's very much appropriate for an international book fair. In deference to the location, however, the Dutch booksellers have listed prices in American dollars. No need for those of us in the New World to check the exchange rates. The two Dutch booksellers regularly provide us with a selection of interesting and important material, and they brought along a fine selection for the fair. Here are some samples.
We generally accept the fact that when people die, they die, and move on. Occasionally, someone will transcend that acceptance, at least in the minds of those given to believe in conspiracy theories. For decades after their deaths, there were sightings of Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy, and pretenders to their identities. Only time, and their extreme age, brought sightings to a conclusion. There are still people convinced that Elvis lives today. The most notable of such people was the Grand Duchess Anastasia, daughter of the Russian Tsar, gunned down during the Russian Revolution, but believed for years by some to have survived. In the 19th century, the favorite claim for such a survivor was the Dauphin, the son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. When his parents were sent to the guillotine in 1793, he became King Louis XVII, but his reign would come from within the deplorable conditions of the prison cell to which the 8-year-old King was confined. He died two years later. But wait... For years there were tales that he escaped. One of the most notable, and strangest, was that he was spirited off to America where he grew up under the care of the Iroquois Indians. Item 28 is a book recounting this claim: The Lost Dauphin; Louis XVII or Onwarenhiiaki, the Indian Iroquois Chief, by Augusta de Grasse Stevens, published in 1887. Onwarenhiiaki, better known as Eleazer Williams, was well-educated (he attended Dartmouth), became an Episcopal missionary to the Oneida Indians, and came to believe the story, though he had no recollections of the supposed first ten years of his life. Nonetheless, people like this author seemed to find an uncanny resemblance between Williams and paintings of Louis XVI and their imaginations ran wild. A few years ago, DNA testing established that remains of the Dauphin were, in fact, the remains of the Dauphin. Priced at $1,000.
Item 37 is an early herbal with around 800 woodcut illustrations. This is the first dated edition (1546) of Herbarum, arborum, fruticum, frumentorum ac leguminum. Animalium praeterea terrestrium, volatiliu[m] & aquatilium... This is one of those rare titles in Latin where one can figure out the meaning even if you don't speak the language. The book has been attributed to Adam Lonicer, the son-in-law of printer Christian Egenolph. This copy has been hand-colored by a contemporary hand. It carries the inscription of Georg Volland, a member of a noble family of Wittenberg during the 16th century. $37,500.
Commodore Matthew Perry's visit to Japan was the most significant act in opening up trade between America and Japan. At the time of his first visit in 1852, Japan conducted no trade with the United States and virtually sealed itself off from all trade with the outside world. Perry's task was to open the doors, and he used more than gentle persuasion to convince the Japanese. It was the naval power that Perry brought along that convinced them to open certain ports to American trade. Item 49 is a remarkable survival from Perry's second visit in 1854, one of only two recorded copies known to exist. It is a combination invitation and program for an Ethiopian Concert on board the Powhatan, Perry's lead ship. The show took place on May 29, 1854, and featured the “Japanese Olio Minstrels.” Mercifully, such shows would not take place today, but in the era, it was acceptable for white sailors to dress up in black-face and to put on these performances. The program was printed on the ship's press. $36,500.
Speaking of naval vessels, item 60 is The naval and mail steamers of the United States, by Charles Beebe Stuart, a second edition published in 1853 (same year as the first). The work includes historical and technical details about the ships along with 32 plates of illustrations. One of the ships illustrated is Commodore Perry's Powhatan. $1,950.