Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2014 Issue

Antiquarian Classics from Pr-Ph Rare Books (Libreria Philobiblion and Pregliasco)


Pr-Ph – a new bookselling partnership.

We received our first catalogue from Pr-Ph Rare Books, prepared especially for the recent California Antiquarian Book Fair. Pr-Ph is a new name, representing a combination of Italian booksellers Libreria Pregliasco and Libreria Philobiblion. Separately, they are located in Turin and Rome, but the combined Pr-Ph now has a location in New York City. They feature a selection of very old and important books, primarily from Italy, or cities that are now part of Italy, along with other European locations. Incunables and texts almost as old are to be found here. They also offer a wide selection of books related to food and cooking. Here are some samples of what this new bookselling partnership has to offer.


Item 13 is a book printed in the Netherlands, but it will be of greatest interest to American collectors. It is titled A plaine and familiar exposition of the tenne commandements, by John Dod and Robert Cleaver. First published in 1604, with a couple of dozen later editions, this 1617 printing from Leyden would not seem remarkable but for one fact. This edition was printed by William Brewster, a religious dissident who had moved from England to Leyden to practice his own Puritanical beliefs. We say “Puritanical” not in the sense of harsh, but literally. Brewster was the leading elder of the group that would become known as the Pilgrims when they emigrated to America. Brewster was the most educated of the group in Holland, and he set up a press in his home. He published a few religious tracts, including this one. The pressure built on Brewster and the other separatists and in 1619, his types were seized. It was time to move on, and Brewster was among the first group to sail to America on board the Mayflower. The booksellers believe it is likely that this copy came over with him on the Mayflower. Brewster would be a leading religious figure in the new colony for its first two decades. Priced at $120,000.


Item 4 is an early mathematical work with a couple of interesting provenances, including another Pilgrim one. The title is Opera, by Apollonius Pergaeus, published in Venice in 1537. Apollonius was not around to reap the royalties on this edition. The ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer died around 190 BC. This is part of Apollonius' work on conics, or cones, that gave us such mathematical terms as ellipse and parabola, those concepts we tried in vain to understand in mandatory mathematics courses. This copy was once part of the collection of John Dee. Dee was a mathematician himself, both astronomer and astrologist, scientist and occultist. He believed both the rational and occult were ways to access knowledge of the unseen world. Dee also served as an adviser to Queen Elizabeth I and he compiled the largest library in England at the time. This copy later made its way to the library of John Winthrop, Jr. His father, Winthrop Sr., emigrated to America in 1630 and served many terms as Governor of Massachusetts. Winthrop Jr. followed him the next year and became a successful businessman in Massachusetts, helped found the colony in Connecticut, and later served as Governor of Connecticut. Winthrop's library, like that of Dee's, was also a largest library, the largest at the time in the American colonies. $580,000.


Item 28 may seem an unimpressive book at first glance, but its significance can hardly be overstated. It is Cosmographia, by Claudius Ptolemaeus, better known today as Ptolemy. It is the most important geographic work of antiquity, Ptolemy having charted out the known world during the second century from his home in Alexandria. Amazingly enough, for the next fourteen centuries, no significant advances were made in western understanding of the world's geography. It would take Columbus to do that, and he was just a young man yet to sail the seas when this book was printed. This copy was published in Vicenza in 1475, which explains its rather ordinary appearance. It has no maps, the hallmark of most copies of Ptolemy's Cosmographia. The reason is that this is the first edition of this extraordinarily important work, which is why it so desirable. It is the first. Editions would start to be published a couple of years later containing maps, but the first edition had text only. $640,000.


After the unillustrated first edition, several with maps appeared during the remainder of the 15th century. Item 29 is a 1490 printing of Cosmographia, printed in Rome, the second Rome edition and fourth illustrated edition. It contains 60 double-page maps, and Pr-Ph notes that the incunable editions printed in Rome are superior due to advanced technical skills. The world itself was still depicted as it was in Ptolemy's time, Columbus still yet to sail, and nothing new learned in 14 centuries except some minor knowledge along the west coast of northern Africa. $460,000.


For a look at how the other half eats, circa the late 17th century, item 48 is Le Cuisinier royal et bourgeois, a 1693 second (augmented) edition. Francois Massialot created a cookbook focused on “good taste,” both literally and figuratively. While at times chefs may have celebrated the meals of regular folks, that was not the case at this time nor in France. Quoting Menell (All manners of Food), Pr-Ph notes, “...not only was anything reminiscent of rusticity and the food of peasants to be avoided, but the court and the 'best circles' were offered as models to be copied.” $4,400.


Pr-Ph Rare Books may be reached in New York at 646-370-4657. The booksellers may also be contacted by email: Filippo Rotundo filippo@prphbooks.com, Umberto Pregliasco umberto@prphbooks.com. The website is found at www.prphbooks.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <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>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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