Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2014 Issue

Important Works from a San Francisco Private Library from John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller

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Books from a private library.

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller has issued Catalogue 60: Books from a San Francisco Private Library. This catalogue is subtitled Part I, Fine Books and Illuminated Manuscripts. In other words, there will be more selections from this library in the months ahead. While the collector is not named, it is clear he or she collected at the highest level. Some of these books are at the top of the most important titles ever written. Nothing here is ordinary.

 

We will look at a few of the items, but first, a word about the illuminated manuscripts. Most of these are individual leaves, and their origin very long ago. Some are contemporary with the first century of printing, but others long precede Mr. Gutenberg and his invention. We find some as early as the beginning of the 13th century.

 

If you are looking for a bible that will take you as close as you can to the original source, this is likely the best you can do. Item 44 is a manuscript bible on vellum from northern France which dates back to around 1250-1275. It contains 543 leaves, plus 13 later ones, dating from the 15th century. The writing is in dark brown ink, in what Windle describes as “a handsome small gothic hand.” Some headings are in red, chapter numbers in alternating red and blue, while certain large capitals are touched in red. It is bound in 16th century German white pigskin. It belonged to a “fr. laure[n]t” in the late 13th century. Among its more “recent” owners is the notable early 19th century French statesman Tallyrand. Priced at $125,000.

 

Here is a chance to learn the entire history of the world, from Creation through the year 1493. For years after that, you are on your own. Item 21 is Hartmann Schedel's Liber Chronicarum, better known as the Nuremberg Chronicle. Schedel set out to complete the daunting task of recounting everything important since the days of Adam and Eve, making sure that Nuremberg was recognized for its role in world history. The timing is ironic as Schedel published his work just as our understanding of the world was about to make enormous changes. This is a first edition, in Latin, completed on July 12, 1493. Columbus had returned from America only a few months earlier, but Schedel was unaware of his discoveries, or the rapidly expanding world, taking place as he completed his history. This book contains hundreds of woodcuts, including the rare instance of the image of the supposed Pope Joan that has not been defaced. Item 21. $89,500.

 

Here is something else you can buy for your $89,500. Item 6 is The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, the 1896 edition published by the Kelmscott Press. This one, too, has a common name – the Kelmscott Chaucer. The Kelmscott Press of William Morris was the leader in the private press movement, still considered the finest of the fine presses. Its Chaucer is considered the greatest work ever produced by this legendary printer. Item 6. $89,500.

 

Next we have what Windle describes as “the single most important scientific book ever published.” Additionally, it may be the most controversial as well. Item 7 is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin's 1859 pioneering work on evolution. It certainly ran contrary to Schedel's account of early human history. Windle notes that this copy has never been sold at auction or through the trade. $160,000.

 

Item 28 is a manuscript draft of a letter pertaining to what would have been a hugely fascinating collaboration if only it had come to pass. The polished, urbane composer, Igor Stravinsky, and the much younger, hard-living poet, Dylan Thomas, planned to produce an opera together. Stravinsky was 28 years Thomas' senior, though he still managed to outlive the alcoholic poet by 18 years. Drink can do this to you. This draft was written in Thomas' hand, including corrections and deletions, and is unfinished. Thomas was reluctant to write lyrics for the famed Stravinsky to put to music. He notes, “I have lots of ideas – good, bad, and chaotic.” The draft is dated June 16, 1953. However, plans were apparently made to work on the project, as Stravinsky set aside room in his home for Thomas and on October 25 wired Thomas asking when he expected to arrive. The reply came back in a telegram two weeks later. Thomas had died, the aftermath of heavy drinking even as his health was deteriorating rapidly. $4,750.

 

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller may be reached at 415-986-5826 or john@johnwindle.com. The website is www.johnwindle.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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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