Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2014 Issue

Antique Manuscripts from Justin Croft Antiquarian Books

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Catalogue 8.

Justin Croft Antiquarian Books has issued a catalogue with a very simple, one-digit title: 8. That doesn't tell us too much, other than that Croft has probably published seven catalogues prior to this. However, once you begin reading the listings, it becomes clear that this is a catalogue of antiquarian manuscripts. The largest concentration is in French, despite Croft hailing from England, though there are many in English and a few other languages. The great majority were written either by people who are not household names, or are anonymous. The writers weren't exactly ordinary people, as the level of education and means to create such documents a couple of centuries ago implied being among the more privileged in society. They required solid writing skills, both in terms of thought and penmanship. Many are highly illustrated, and if these people did not become great artists, their skills exceeded what most of us possess. This is a fascinating look at life long ago, filled with original (or sometimes copied) words. Here are some examples.

 

We will start with an item that looks to be an unimaginable labor to those of us used to writing on a keyboard. It is an exceptional piece of Victorian calligraphic writing, in “an obsessively neat black letter hand, with minute chapter headings and shoulder notes.” It is a complete copy of the King James version of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is written on smooth paper, allowing for the intricate penwork. Croft notes that it was evidently not intended for use, but perhaps for honing one's penmanship or as an act of sustained contemplation of the Gospels. Item 4. Priced at £1,000 (British pounds, or roughly $1,666 U.S. dollars).

 

Item 10 consists of two manuscript volumes of unpublished poetry circa 1842-1879 entitled Mes Vers. Croft notes it is “a lifetime collection of autograph poetry by a prolific, cultivated and accomplished provincial poetess, comprising several thousand lines.” The poet was Herminie Delavault, who lived most of her life in the small western French town of Poitevin. In the early material, she uses her maiden name of Herminie Vauguyon. Her father was a lawyer, while her husband was notable in the local music scene of the day. Some of her verses were intended to be set to his music. She writes about friends, but also about the issues of 19th century France. She traveled on occasion, with some poems being written in the Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Algiers. There is no indication that any of her poems were ever published. £1,200 (US $2,000).

 

Item 29 contains 47 notebooks written by another young French lady, Claire Sallard, from 1828-1836. That roughly covers ages 9-17. This is part of her learning, with teaching of literary skills by a tutor, but it also provides a look at life in a prosperous French family during the Restoration. Much of the material is autobiographical. She tells us about such things as family visits, shopping, making jam, playing with her siblings, and the activities of their servants (a sure indication they were of reasonable means). There are also a number of morality tales in the over 150,000 words she has written. She later married Paul Huet, a notable landscape painter whose work still hangs in many important art museums. £950 (US $1,582).

 

Next we have a copy of La Sainte Bible, a 1669 edition of the Bible notable for its provenance. This one belonged to a woman who was definitely not ordinary – she was quite extraordinary. It was about Emilie du Chatelet whom Voltaire famously said, she was “a great man whose only fault was being a woman.” That comment referred to the fact that 18th century women were not supposed to be involved in anything much more weighty than housekeeping. Du Chatelet was a brilliant woman, a writer, mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and all-around scholar. Voltaire obviously did not find her being a woman entirely a fault as they conducted an affair for many years. Voltaire spent many of those years living at her country estate, where they helped each other with their studies and writing and amassed a large library. Emilie also had a husband, but he was absent most of the time, and evidently did not mind the relationship when he was present. She was an expert on Newton and translated his Principia to French, adding her commentary. It is still the standard French translation of this work. Among her other works is Examens de la Bible, a refutation of biblical authority based on inconsistencies, contradictions, and mistranslations, the result of ten years of study on the subject with Voltaire. It was a potentially controversial and dangerous piece of writing, unpublished, except in manuscript form, during her lifetime. This Bible includes numerous annotations made by Mme du Chatelet during her studies. £25,000 (US $41,661).

 

Here is another survival from Voltaire and de Chatelet's years together - Histoire du Concile de Trente... by Paulo Sarpi, a French translation published in 1738. It is an impossible to find book from Voltaire's library outside of Russia. There may be fewer than five, though Voltaire possessed a library of some 7,000 books. Voltaire was determined to keep his library together. After he died in 1778, Catherine the Great bought up his entire library and moved it to St. Petersburg, where it remains today. However, this book was evidently left behind in Mme du Chatelet's home after she died in 1749 and Voltaire and his library moved on. £25,000 (US $41,661).

 

Justin Croft Antiquarian Books may be reached at +44 1795 591111 or justin@justincroft.com. The website is www.justincroft.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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