Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2013 Issue

Fine and Unusual Bindings from John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller

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Fine and unusual bindings.

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller has issued Occasional List Four: Fine and Unusual Bindings. For those who believe the old adage you can't judge a book by its cover, these are the exceptions. Some of these books really shouldn't be judged by any other criteria. They are meant to be works of art, appreciated for the visual rather than textual appeal. The text may be interesting, but that is hardly the point. They were not meant to be reading copies, not even in the beginning. For those who collect surface beauty, here are 35 books that will catch your eye.

 

Here is a binding that is both fine and unusual, wrapped around a book that is also unusual. Item 3 is the Arion Press 1980 edition of Flatland. A Romance of Many Directions, by Edwin Abbott, first published in 1886. This edition includes an introduction by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who has also signed the book, as has Arion publisher Andrew Hoyem. It is one of a limited edition of 275 copies. The book itself is an odd story about different dimensional worlds. Flatland is a two dimensional world (hence its being flat). Males in Flatland are polygons, while women are limited to being straight lines. This can be dangerous, as when a woman approaches a male, she comes straight on as a point, and can impale and kill the male. Hence, they must enter their homes through separate doors. Some of these two-dimensional creatures come to meet up with inhabitants of a one-dimensional world, and then a three-dimensional one such as ours. They cannot cope with the differences and so speaking of these other worlds becomes a crime. Abbott uses the book to speculate about worlds with more than three dimensions, which some see as something of a precursor to Einstein. He also uses the book for social satire about relationships. This Arion edition plays up the flat world by presenting the book as 56 accordion-style folded panels, which when opened lay out flat, 33 feet long. It is bound in an aluminum cover with an aluminum frame, hinged and clasped. Priced at $3,000.

 

This was already a notable edition even before being bound in white vellum stamped in gilt with silk ties. It is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the 1915 edition illustrated by Arthur Rackham. It is one of only two Dickens books Rackham illustrated. It contains 11 color and 20 black and white illustrations. This is the Deluxe limited edition (500 copies) signed by Rackham. “Surely the best of all illustrated versions,” notes Windle. Item 11. $6,500.

 

There is something unusual, or perhaps ironic about the fine bindings on this 1940 Limited Editions Club book. It is half green morocco with decorated boards and a gilt backstrip with floral decorations using red morocco inlays. The book features lithographs by the artist Thomas Hart Benton. What is perhaps ironic is the title chosen for this treatment – John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. It is the story of dirt poor Oklahoma farmers driven to California during the height of the Dust Bowl and Depression, barely making enough money to survive, an odd choice for such a rich presentation. Item 31. $795.

 

For those who would like to do a lot of reading, or to have a lot of attractive books on the shelf, item 33 is a set of the complete Delphin Varirum Classics. These are works from antiquity edited and put in a set of 166 volumes by A.J. Volpy, published from 1819-1830. Each volume is in matching vellum bindings with gilt borders and backstrips. You will unquestionably impress your friends with a set like this on your shelves, especially if you can quote from them. $17,500.

 

From 166 books we turn to the other extreme. Item 24 is a single book, and a miniature at that. It is the London Almanack for the year of Christ 1790. Published in 1789, it contains 24 pages, and measures a demure 2.25” x 1.25”. It features full red morocco covers with blue and white morocco inlays with wavy gilt lines. And, it all fits on the cover. Item 24. $1,750.

 

We conclude with one odder piece for a fine binding. Item 1 is a bound edition of the full run of Horseshit. The Offensive Review. It was published from 1965-1970, but four issues comprises the entire run. It was an anti-war, anti-establishment sort of publication as one might expect from this era, with a touch of what was, at least at the time, considered pornography. It is an odd choice for a fine binding, but obviously the owner of these masterpieces published by brothers Bob and Tom Dunker had a sense of humor (along with money). They had it bound by Arthur Johnson, who would have enjoyed the task, having a sense of humor himself. The binding has an American flag motif, an erotic image with wavy red and pale stripes and white stars on a blue background. The binding is signed “AJ” in 1973. Item 1. $7,500.

 

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller may be reached at 415-986-5826. The website is www.johnwindle.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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