Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2014 Issue

Modern Literature from Peter Harrington

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Modern Literature.

Peter Harrington has released a catalogue of Modern Literature. This is a collection of literary works from the 20th century, mostly mid to later in the century. For many readers, these will be the books you grew up with, the ones that were new when you were young(er). So, we will take a look back, but not too far, at a few of these modern classics.

 

We will start with the item depicted on the catalogue's cover. It is a play by Joseph Heller, the title being We Bombed in New Haven. Heller is best known as the author of the 1961 novel, and a decade later the film, Catch 22. Heller can't be accused of being a prolific writer, churning out material as fast as the presses can run. It took him a decade to write Catch 22, and this his second work didn't come until six years later, in 1967. It would be another seven years until he finally published his second novel. In this play, Heller revisits the subject of his first work, the absurdity of war and of the behavior of those who must carry it out. The title is a play on plays, bombing in New Haven, where many Broadway plays are first performed, being a synonym for a play that failed before an audience. However, in this case it refers to the bombing that takes place during a war. Its release at the time when public opinion was rapidly turning against the Vietnam War made its message particularly current for its day, though it could apply to any age. Naturally enough, the play opened in New Haven, put on by the Yale School of Drama, before making its way to Broadway, where it didn't “bomb,” but had only a modest run of 85 performances. This copy of the play has been inscribed by Heller “To Jane Biberman, who typed the first draft of this play for me – and did it incorrectly.” Ms. Biberman has gone on to have a career as a journalist and writer. We will assume the “incorrectly” part was a joke between the parties. Item 169. Priced at £450 (British pounds, or roughly $757 U.S. dollars).

 

This next title will make older readers think of Edward G. Robinson, younger readers think of pizza. Item 40 is a 1929 first edition of Little Caesar, by W. R. Burnett. Burnett had a chance to see the seedier side of life when he wrote his introductory novel. It is a tale of a small time hoodlum who makes his way up the ladder of organized crime, until its denouement with his inevitable downfall. It would be turned into a movie two years later, with the then unknown Edward G. Robinson in the title role. It was the grandaddy of the organized crime films that remain popular to this day. This copy has been signed by Burnett. £4,500 (US $7,578).

 

Item 343 is the book that launched a career that even as it burned brightly, was sinking below the waves. It is a first edition, first issue from 1934 of Dylan Thomas' 18 Poems. Thomas, who was all of 20 at the time, had had several poems published in various periodicals. His work caught the eye of T. S. Eliot and others who had his first collection of poetry printed. Unfortunately, Thomas was already embarking on a road to self-destruction. He would need financial assistance from friends for much of his too short life, as the brilliant writer sunk deeper and deeper into an alcoholic haze. He never made it to his 39th birthday. £2,500 (US $4,209).

 

Speaking of Mr. Eliot, he had his share of personal issues with an unhappy marriage in 1922 when he published his most notable poem, The Waste Land. Fortunately, he never succumbed to too much drink, thereby living a suitably long life. His somewhat obscure and despairing work was printed in 1,000 copies, this being #277 and a first issue of the first edition. Item 87. £22,500 (US $37,887).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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

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