Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2005 Issue

Bibliography and Printing History (some imaginary) from Frits Knuf

R0413

Bibliography and more about books from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books.


By Michael Stillman

This month we review our first catalogue from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books. Frits Knuf is located in Vendome, about a hundred miles from Paris, France. Founded and operated for many years by Frits Knuf, it is currently managed by Anita and Rene van Elferen. Their specialty is old and rare bibliographies and other books about the printing and bookselling trades. The books they offer are not only collectible in themselves, but of great assistance to those who collect earlier antiquarian books, especially those printed in Europe (but with a few American works available as well). Here are a few items we found in the Frits Knuf catalogue.

The de Bure family were book collectors, booksellers, auctioneers, and all around bibliophiles for 200 years. However, when Jean Jacques de Bure died in 1853, the library that many generations of the family had assembled was put up for auction. Item 13 is a copy of the catalogue of that 1853 auction, Catalogue Des Livres Rares et Precieux...De La Bibliotheque De Feu M. J.J. De Bure... The auction contained 1,853 lots. Priced at €400 (Euros, or US equivalent $520).

As the de Bure collection was being dispersed in Europe, a new collection was about to begin in the new world. By the time Robert Hoe's collection was similarly sold at auction in 1911, it would have become the greatest private collection in America. Among the items Hoe owned was a collection of bookbindings, which he pictured and described in a catalogue in 1895. That catalogue is One hundred and seventy-six historic and artistic bookbindings dating from the fifteenth century to the present time... Hoe's collection, naturally, started from the Gutenberg Bible, and included many illuminated manuscripts as well as books. Item 27 was limited to 200 copies. €2,100 (US $2,723).

There aren't many people who still question the recognition of Johannes Gutenberg as the first printer, but for much of the 17th and 18th centuries, a controversy raged. Several others were at times put forward as candidates (sort of like various names have been proposed as the "real" author of Shakespeare's works). Most notable among them was Laurens Jansz Koster. He had much support from various fellow Dutchmen, until Dutch researcher Antonius van der Linde debunked the claims. Item 18 is an 1823 booklet of twelve songs celebrating the fourth centenary of Koster's "invention" of the printing press. That would place the invention at 1423. Indeed, the book contains an image of Koster's press with the date 1423. Like the claim, the image of the press is spurious, as is the supposed portrait of Koster. However, that does not mean that the songs celebrating his non-invention aren't good. We have never heard them, but you can at least see them in Volks-Liedekens...Laurens Jansz. €125 (US $162).

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 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, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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