Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2013 Issue

Science, Medicine, Natural History, and Early Printing from B & L Rootenberg

Rootenberg14

Science, medicine, natural history and early printing.

B & L Rootenberg Rare Books & Manuscripts has issued their Catalogue Number Fourteen of Fine Books. Science, Medicine, Natural History, and Early Printing. Most books are in the areas of science or medicine, many overlapping with these other categories. We find books going back to the 16th century while others reach the early 20th. It is filled with works from the greats like Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Crick and Watson, but also many others who made important contributions along the way. Many works include illustrations that border on art, such as John Gould's drawings of birds. This is a fine catalogue of fine books. Let's take a look inside.

Item 21 is a second edition of the book that turned the world around, in a quite literal sense: De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, by Copernicus. Copernicus was the man who performed the calculations and realized the sun wasn't spinning around the earth at some phenomenal speed after all. It was the earth that was moving, both spinning on its axis and rotating around the sun. The second edition was published in 1566, following the first of 1543. That this book didn't cause more of a stir is amazing since it contradicted what the Church believed to be biblical truth about the earth being the center of the universe. It may have helped Copernicus that he died the year his book was first published, making it hard to persecute him. An anonymous introduction added to Copernicus' work stating that it was meant to help calculate the motion of heavenly bodies rather than being a description of physical reality probably helped. Priced at $150,000.

Galileo may not have been the first to recognize that the earth revolved around the sun, but he is the one who got in trouble for it. In 1632, he published his Dialogo... It is presented as a dialogue between one who holds traditional beliefs and one who favors the heliocentric (sun centered) model. However, Galileo's prejudices in favor of the Copernican system were too obvious. Certainly, the Church wasn't fooled. He was put on trial for heresy. The Bible said that Joshua called on the sun to stop in the sky, not for the earth to stop its rotation, so obviously Galileo's beliefs were heresy. He was brought before the Inquisition, found suspect of heresy, forced to recant his positions, and placed on house arrest for the remainder of his life. Certainly, it could have been much worse for Galileo. Perhaps some of his inquisitors realized his theory was correct. Item 45. $70,000.

Item 66 is not a pre-Darwinian book about evolution, and yet in a way it is. It is Principles of geology, being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation. The author was Charles Lyell, and the three volumes were published from 1830-1833, as Darwin was off on his voyage of discovery that would later lead to his theory of evolution. At the time, the predominant theory was that the earth could be dated by the Bible, not much more than 5,000 years old. Changes discovered in the fossil record, therefore, must have been sudden and cataclysmic. Such a short time span would have made Darwin's theory of evolution, which requires gradual change, impossible. Lyell postulated that geologic and specie changes followed a uniform, gradual pace. This required a far older earth than anyone imagined. This in turn opened up the possibility of evolution by natural selection that Darwin propounded a few decades later. Lyell himself was torn by evolution, torn between his scientific reason and deep religious beliefs that made it difficult for him to accept that humans developed from lower species. $10,000.

Here is a decidedly unscientific work: The true prophecies and prognostications of Michael Nostradamus... This is the 1672 first English edition of a work originally published in French a century earlier. The astronomer/astrologer/physician usually just known as Nostradamus published a series of prophecies in quatrains. Some were original, others borrowed from predecessors. What they have in common is sufficient vagueness for supporters to say in hindsight that every important event that has occurred since was predicted by him, but without being able to make much more than similarly vague predictions for future events based on his writings. Item 80. $4,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <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. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Copper Printing Plate for "Marshall's Household Engraving of Washington." $500 to $1000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Important Documentary Painting Showing Baseball Great Ty Cobb in Cuba. $1,000 to $2,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> <i>Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age</i>, Inscribed by Bill Wilson. $500 to $1,000
    <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), <i>Prise à l'hameçon.</i> $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Maurice Dufrène (French, 1876-1955), <i>Rayon des Soieries</i>. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> William Pope.L (American, b. 1955), <i>Intimacy Project</i>. $2,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <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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