Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2013 Issue

At the California Fair with Antiquariat Banzhaf and Antiquariat Michael Kuhn

Banzhaffeb2013

For the California Fair.

Antiquariat Banzhaf and Antiquariat Michael Kuhn issued a brochure for the recent 46th California International Antiquarian Bookfair. The two German booksellers made the trip across the ocean and across the continent to display items from the old country in one of the last places explored by their antecedents back in then era of discovery. Much of what they brought relates to those long ago times, with subjects including science, mathematics, art, botany, trade, and more. Here is a look at some of these old world items.

Here is a book that will appeal to stargazers everywhere: A Selection of Photographs of Stars, Star-Clusters, and Nebulae, together with Information concerning the Instruments and the Methods employed in the Pursuit of Celestial Photography. The author/photographer was Isaac Roberts, an engineer with a passion for astronomy. He purchased a fine telescope which he used for photography of celestial bodies. What is particularly important about Roberts' work was that he employed very long exposures, not that easy since his lens had to move with the rotation of the earth to stay focused. What he was able to photograph with long exposures was very faint objects, things not visible to the naked eye. He revealed structures previously unknown. Most significant was his photograph of the Andromeda galaxy, which revealed it was a spiral structure, unknown at the time. Item 8. Priced at €3,800 (euros, or roughly $5,098 in U.S. dollars).

Ferdinand Vrangel was a German native who became a Russian explorer. He made several long trips on behalf of Russia, but his most notable journey was one was in northeastern Siberia in the early 1820s. He traveled up the Kolyma River, which flows into the Siberian Sea, and from there east to the Bering Strait. Vrangel was able to establish that there was no land north of the Kolyma and that there was no land bridge, as many thought, between Russia and America. Vrangel's complete account of his research is found in this first edition of Physikalische Beobachtungen wahrend seiner Reisen auf dem Eismeere in den Jahren 1821, 1822 und 1823, published in 1827. Vrangel would later become deeply involved in Russian America (Alaska), serving as head of the Russian-American Company and as Governor of the settlements. He was active in expanding and developing those settlements, and late in life after his retirement, he opposed the sale of Alaska to the United States. Item 21. €2,600 (US $3,470).

Here is a guide to preserving plant specimens: Das Auftrocknen der Pflanzen fürs Herbarium, und die Aufbewahrung der Pilze... (The drying of the plants for herbarium, and storage of mushrooms). Author Friedrich Luebersdorff was a scientist, politician and landowner in 19th century Germany. This work was designed to help readers preserve the colors and shapes of their plant specimens. A section of the book is focused on collecting mushrooms. Item 18. €1,200 (US $1,601).

Perhaps this unknown collector made use of Herr Luebersdorff's advice in creating this herbarium. Item 16 is an album of 102 mounted specimens of algae. It comes in two volumes, and evidently has a wealthy provenance. It contains dark brown morocco bindings with lavish gilt decorations. It may have belonged to Princess Marie Sophie Amalie, who later became Queen of the Two Sicilies, though this is uncertain. It was created in Germany around 1850. €2,500 (US $3,338).

Here is a book that's over 500 years old (501 to be exact – it was published in 1512): Summa super libris Physicorum Aristotelis. The actually writing if far older. The author was Robert Grosseteste, who lived from 1168-1253, serving as Bishop of Lincoln the last 18 years of his life. He was something of a reformer for his era, and was highly involved in relations between the Church in Rome and that in England. However, it is not his theological duties for which he is most remembered. Grossteste translated several ancient Greek works, and was highly influenced by the works of Aristotle and others. In what is often referred to as the “Dark Ages,” he was a leader in scientific thought, at least such as it was at the time. He promoted something akin to the scientific method, where principles could be learned from observations and then applied to other situations. He also saw mathematics as being on the highest plain, science emanating from its principles, and developed some unusual theories in the field of optics. Item 1. €20,000 (US $26,572).

Antiquariat Banzhaf may be reached at 0049-(0)7071-552314 or Antiquariat-Banzhaf@t-online.de. Their website is found at www.antiquariat-banzhaf.de.

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