Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2014 Issue

Signed and Inscribed Association Copies from John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller


Association books.

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller has issued the third part of their collection from an obviously well-heeled collector: Catalogue 60: Books from a San Francisco Private Library Part 3. Association Books. This selection confirms what we learned from the previous two – this was an important library. These are books signed and inscribed by their authors or others. The common thread is their importance, as there is not much in common with styles. They range from Shaw and Wilder, to Dylan Thomas and Frost, to Milne and Beatrix Potter. Throw in Tallyrand and Elizabeth Custer. That is a diverse group of people, the common thread being we know them all. Here are a few samples.


Lord Alfred Douglas was a turn of the century poet, though he is best remembered for things other than his poetry. Lord Douglas had a deserved reputation as a spoiled rich kid. His father came to despise him, both for his homosexual behavior and his insolence to the hand that fed him. He was Oscar Wilde's lover, and it was his father's countersuit against Wilde's claim of libel that landed the latter in prison, his health and spirit broken. Lord Douglas had no trouble turning on Wilde. Eventually, Douglas would end up in prison himself for libeling Winston Churchill. Item 7 is Douglas' copy of a fourth impression of the Collected Poems 1909-1935 by T. S. Eliot. Douglas was not fond of “modern” poetry. He didn't consider it even to be poetry, it not meeting, in his opinion, the formal requirements. T. S. Eliot was at the top of his list of disliked “poets,” and he gave a speech to the Royal Society of Literature in 1943 on the subject, much focused on Eliot. That disdain is repeated in Douglas' inscription in Eliot's book: “The worst indictment that could possibly be brought against this age of idiocy is that it has accepted this contemptible, impudent jackass T.S. Eliot as a 'poet.'” Priced at $3,500.


One person with whom Douglas corresponded, and to whom he expressed his contempt for Eliot, was George Bernard Shaw. Shaw was more ambivalent about Eliot, and cautioned Douglas not to be so dismissive, that like his style or not, Eliot was a serious poet. However, item 27 finds Shaw in a different, more humorous, albeit sarcastic, mood. Shaw had received a copy of his 1934 The Complete Plays from an owner who asked Shaw to sign it. Shaw interpreted the request as motivated not by the man's admiration for his plays, but by a desire to increase the value of his copy so he could sell it for a profit. So, Shaw inscribed his opinion in the book, which undoubtedly makes it all the more valuable. Writes Shaw, “Mr. Fred Chapman of Manchester... has speculated in this edition de luxe on the chance of my autographing it and thereby enabling him to sell it at a considerable profit. I trust that the few hundred thousand or so of his fellow purchasers will, before following his example, apply the Kantian test to their conduct and ask themselves what would happen to me if I devoted the rest of my life to signing copies... Still, to reward Mr. Chapman’s cheek...” $750.


This is one of the more ironically titled books around: My Life on the Plains. Or, Personal Experiences with Indians. The author of this 1874 book was General George Armstrong Custer, who is known mostly for his personal experiences with Indians. Of course, he was unable to write about his most notable personal experience with Indians. This copy comes with a letter from his widow, Elizabeth Custer, who spent the remaining 50-plus years of her life rehabilitating her husband's reputation. In it, she builds up his earlier days to soaring heights, as she was wont to do: “...the last year of the Civil War when he was the youngest General in the Service and commanded thousands of troops was intense for months at a time... a ‘boy General’ at twenty-three leading thousands in the charges for which he was famous...” Item 6. $2,250.


Item 29 is an 1892 edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin, with a poignant letter from author Harriet Beecher Stowe's daughter, also named Harriet Beecher Stowe. The letter is to a Mr. W. H. Cathcart, who evidently requested Mrs. Stowe write a section from Uncle Tom's Cabin in his copy. Her daughter explains that “writing is an effort for her now,” and she was concerned an attempt to write in the book might deface it. Instead, after several tries, she succeeded in having her mother write a section on a separate piece of paper. Her daughter writes, “I have had her attempt two or three times to write for you but without success until to day, when what she has written is quite as good as we can ever expect from her again...” The senior Harriet Beecher Stowe was 81 years old at the time and suffered from dementia. $25,000.


Item 36 is Our Town. A Play in Three Acts, published in 1938. The copy is inscribed by author Thornton Wilder, but there is much more. It is also signed by all 48 members of the original cast, and many years later, it was signed by Paul Newman, who played the stage manager in a 2003 production. $3,750.


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

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <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. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
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    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
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