Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2014 Issue

Calculating Machines from Centuries Ago Offered by Daniel Crouch Rare Books

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Calculating instruments.

Daniel Crouch Rare Books has released their Catalogue VI. Crouch specializes in maps, charts, atlases, globes and other cartographic items. However, this catalogue expands the boundaries a bit, focusing on calculating machines from the days long before the electronic calculators and computers we use today. It includes machines to help calculate latitude and longitude for those traveling the seas, or to read the stars, tell time and dates. The early seafarers needed access to this data, but with no GPS available, had to find other, clever ways. Many of these devices will still work today, though you may opt for simpler means when you travel. Here are a few samples of them.

 

We will start with an item reflecting the most important evolution in calendars, Theorica della Compositone dell'Universo et delle cause della Nuovo riforma dell'anno, from Antonio Carrarino. It is a single plate issued in the year 1582, the year of the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, in use to this day. Europe had been operating on the Julian calendar since the year 325, and while it provided for certain adjustments in time such as leap years, it did not fully account for shifting. The result was over the 12-plus centuries since its introduction, the spring equinox had shifted by 10 days, occurring on March 10. More than the timing of spring, it had shifted Easter from what was believed to be the proper time. Pope Gregory XIII set up a commission to fix the problem, with their new calendar being issued in 1582. It adjusted the occurrence of leap years going forward, but this still necessitated a major one-time change. Ten days had to be removed from the year to balance the centuries worth of drift first. Carrarino has provided an explanation of the changes and the need for them, as well as providing some helpful illustrations. A series of concentric circles displays the universe, with the sun in the middle, followed by the six planets (that's all there were then) with the moon sandwiched in, followed by the stars, universe, and the creator. Item 8. Priced at £16,000 (British pounds or $26,763 U.S. dollars).

 

As long as we have adjusted our calendars to accurately track days indefinitely, then a perpetual calendar should be good forever. Item 21 is a perpetual calendar designed by John Seller, circa 1680. It features a complex engraving by Seller fitted in a wooden frame. There are images representing the planets, time, death, a winged heart with a sword through it, perhaps representing repentance. Abbreviations for the days of the week are displayed in the center, with a volvelle featuring the numeric dates alongside. In case you share my ignorance of the meaning of the term “volvelle,” it is one of those moving wheels that you turn to advance the numbers forward. Seller calls them “rundles.” So, at the end of the week, you can advance the numbers by 7, so the new dates appear next to the days of the week. A second volvelle allows the months to be advanced as well. Crouch informs us that Seller had been found guilty of high treason in 1662, but managed to get pardoned and go on to conduct a business as a map and instrument maker. £15,000 (US $25,090).



Item 24 is an anonymous piece dealing with another issue of time, Der Grosse Stunden-Weiser aller Lander auff der gantzen runden Erd-Kugel, circa 1680. This is a broadside with a large circle in the middle. On the inside are two sets of roman numerals, 1-12, representing the hours of the day and night. Names of cities radiate out from the numbers at half hour intervals. This is something of an early map of time zones. However, this predates the development of actual time zones. Communities still used the sun as a basis for calculating time, so nearby communities could have times differing by just a few minutes from each other. It wreaked total havoc on railroad schedules once train travel became common. Timetables were not terribly meaningful when each community along the way was, in effect, in its own unique time zone. The result was the creation of 24 large timezones around the earth, with all communities within each zone recognizing the same time. Since this did not yet exist at the time this chart was created, the cities are broken out by half hour, and even there, the times would only be approximate. The early date of this piece left North America almost invisible. Time zones have cities from Latin America and the Caribbean except that California in America and New Sweden are listed. £3,500 (US $5,853).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Adams (Richard). <i>Watership Down,</i> FIRST EDITION, author inscription on front free end paper, folded map tipped in, original boards, dust-jacket. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bowles (John). <i>Several Prospects of the Most…la Ville de Londres, avec des Remarques Historiques fort Succinctes, qui les Regardant,</i> 20 double page engraved plates only, of 23, 1724. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Auden (W.H.). <i>Our Hunting Fathers,</i> FIRST SEPARATE EDITION, 1 of 22 copies, COPY B OF 5 PRINTED ON NORMANDIE, original patterned wrappers, Cambridge, for Frederic Prokosch, 1935. £800 to £1200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Barrie (J. M.) & Attwell (Mabel Lucie, illustrator). <i>Peter Pan & Wendy,</i> FIRST EDITION, 12 chromolithograph plates, publisher's blue cloth, original printed dust jacket, [c.1920]; and 3 others (4). £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bartolozzi (Francesco). Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce; Agriculture (Husbandry Aided by Arts and Commerce), glazed and framed. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> A collection of engraved caricatures, including Gillray ([James]) Tales of Wonder!, 1802; Rowlandson (Thomas) Sports, Smock Racing, 1811;Irish Jaunting Carr, 1814. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bennett (Charles H, illustrator). <i>Æsop’s Fables,</i> 1875; Buchanan (Robert). <i>Ballad Stories of the Affections,</i> [1866]; Douce (Francis), The Dance of Death, 1833. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Chinese Illustrations. A group of 6 Cantonese rice paper illustrations, depicting scenes of torture with different instruments, gouache, c.340 x 220mm, original wrapper boards preserved, [c. 1800]. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Dulac (Edmund). <i>The Queen of Romania, The Dreamer of Dreams,</i> 5 coloured plates, [1915]; and others illustrated by Edmund Dulac. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Fronth (Per). Xingu Chronicles, the portfolio, comprising 30 plates, photogravues in colours, each signed, dated and titled in pencil, each numbered 10/35, on wove paper, 790 x 600 x 60mm, 1997. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doctor Zhivago,</i> FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, original red publisher’s cloth, pictorial dust jacket, 4to, Collins & Harvill Press, 1958. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> 13 sepia photographs of visitors to the Thermes Nationaux d’Aix-les-Bains, c. 150 x 105mm, c.1890 (12). £300 to £400
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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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