Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2014 Issue

Great Literature from Whitmore Rare Books

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Catalogue 9.

Catalogue 9 has been released by Whitmore Rare Books, “offering literary first editions and other books of merit.” “Literature” describes most of the items offered, though that might be a stretch for a few, such as Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat, David Embury's classic Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, or a manuscript appointment of a successor as Lord Chancellor for Sir Francis Bacon when he was put on trial in 1621. In hindsight, he might better have joined the pilgrims, as the great philosopher was convicted of corruption and banned from public office for life. Here are a few more of the books to be found within this ninth catalogue.

 

Perhaps Bacon felt like “K,” the protagonist in Franz Kafka's The Trial. This is a 1937 first American edition of a book originally published in German in 1925, the year after Kafka died. K goes through surreal proceedings by a court of unknown judges and unknown authority, not even told the charges against him. The charges come to dominate his life as K remains in the dark about what is going on, seeking help from a lawyer and others who seem to know more than he, but not enough to be of much use. A year later, the poor man is taken away and executed. Kafka's masterpiece was never finished. He didn't even want it published. Kafka had written the work 10 years earlier, and left instructions to his literary executor to burn his papers when he died. Fortunately, the executor ignored his wishes and published the book. Item 49. Priced at $4,250.

 

K was unable to extricate himself from his predicament, but if there is one man who could have escaped from it, or anything else, it would be the one-time owner of this book. Item 45 is a copy of Natural Magick, a 1658 first English language edition of a book by John Baptist Porta, originally published in 1558. Porta was an Italian “scientist,” perhaps a scientist for his era. His work includes legitimate science, along with magic, the occult, alchemy, and just about anything else that crossed the mind of the inquisitive gentleman. This book precedes the era of the scientific method, Porta gathering his “knowledge” wherever he could, from ancient writings to his own observations. This copy of Porta's book is notable for its provenance. It was once owned by the most renown magician ever, Harry Houdini. The master of escapes has signed his name, and made a few notations. Houdini has placed a notation for “INKS” on page 350. This section reveals how to make invisible ink and invisible writing. $22,500.

 

Kafka wasn't the only author to leave behind an unfinished book. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had gone six years without a novel, having turned to film scripts for money, was working on another when he died. Fitzgerald's was a tormented life, and years of drink had depleted his health. A couple of heart attacks at the age of 44 finished him off. He had partly finished a novel about the rise to power of a film producer, a subject with which he would have been familiar from his late-in-life work in Hollywood. With help from notes about the unfinished parts, The Last Tycoon was published in 1941, the year after his death. Item 27. $1,250.

 

Item 64 is a long-forgotten book that was “found” a couple of decades ago, and then swept into the public consciousness with a recent film of the same name, Twelve Years A Slave. Solomon Northup's account of his 12 years on a Louisiana plantation was published in 1853, a year after Uncle Tom's Cabin, quickly selling 30,000 copies to readers seeking a nonfictional account of what slavery was like. Northup was a free black man, a farmer and a violinist from upstate New York when he was enticed to come to Washington, D.C., ostensibly to play the violin. Instead, he was kidnapped, slavery still being legal in the nation's capital, and transported to Louisiana. Control over slaves was such that Northup was unable to get a message to his family back home. He toiled for 12 years on the plantation before convincing an itinerant Canadian carpenter, working temporarily on the plantation, to send letters back to New York. Eventually, Northup was rescued by the son of his father's former owner (from the days slavery was legal in New York) and officials of the State of New York. Northup wrote his book and spoke to abolitionist audiences for the next few years, but in 1857 disappeared again, and no one knows what became of him (it is not believed he was kidnapped into slavery a second time). $8,500.

 

We will conclude with some much lighter reading, a return to very early childhood. Item 6 may be one of the first books you ever read, or someone read to you. It is Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon. It could be argued that Clement Hurd's illustrations made this book more than Brown's lyrics, though simple as they are, they were just right for this story. It is as magical as it is simple, and it lights up the eyes of any young child to whom this story is read. I say that from personal experience. This first edition was published in 1947. $650.

 

Whitmore Rare Books may be reached at 626-297-7700 or info@whitmorerarebooks.com. Their website is www.WhitmoreRareBooks.com.

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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