History of the Book from Charles Wood Antiquarian Booksellers
By Michael Stillman
Charles Wood Antiquarian Booksellers' latest catalogue, number 121, is entitled "History of the Book." This catalogue focuses on the physical aspects of books more than the reading material within. The books have qualified for this list either by being specimens of such subjects as early photography, fine bindings, special papers or typefaces, or because they discuss these fields. Of course some are interesting for the unrelated material within, but still represent something notable about the art of book production.
Item 17 is the first book printed from machine-set type. The preface describes the publication of this book as a beginning of "an epoch in the history of typography, from which it is possible to conceive, a new era in the history of literature may be dated." If so, the epoch began in 1842 with the publication of Edward Binns' The Anatomy of Sleep, or, the Art of Procuring Sound and Refreshing Slumber at Will. If the book actually did all it said, providing the means to "slumber at will," that would also have been an achievement of epoch proportions. This copy of the rare book is a first edition. Priced at $550.
G.S. Peters has been referred to as America's first color printer. In 1837, Peters, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, printed a children's book about the story of Joseph for the German community, entitled Die Geschichte Joseph's und seiner Bruder. Iene bibliche Erzahlung. It is a crude job, with the illustrations first printed in black, and then overprinted in blue, green, red and yellow. Wood notes that the register is less than perfect, but anyone who has seen color photographs in their local newspaper will certainly be forgiving of such shortcomings by a printer of almost 170 years ago. Item 117. $700. There is also an undated English translation of this book, The life of Joseph, a Scripture narrative, probably published a short time later. Wood notes that some of the items in the pictures have been colored differently from the German version. Item 118. $500.
For those interested in illustration from children's books, item 156 is 1,000 Quaint Cuts from books of other days including amusing illustrations from Children's story books, fables, chap-books, etc. This was published by the Leadenhall Press of London, circa 1890-95. This book provides a large collection of samples of illustrations from pre-20th century children's books. Item 156. $200.