Peter Harrington recently published their Summer Catalogue. As usual, Harrington offers a wide variety of material. Significance of material and excellence of condition are hallmarks of the books offered, rather than some specific subject matter. The selection is wide, over 300 titles presented. The catalogue notes that all of the items are currently on display at their new Dover Street location, in the Mayfair section of London. Their Chelsea location remains open as well. Here are some samples from Harrington's summer catalogue.
We start with a book that told an amazing story of heroism in the worst of times, a story that would finally reach a large audience with a movie of almost the same name. Item 165 is Thomas Keneally's account of a German businessman in Nazi Germany who did everything possible to save the Jews working in his factory from the otherwise inevitable extermination that awaited them – Schindler's Ark. This copy of the 1982 first edition is inscribed by Keneally “To George and Hedy Hunter, to celebrate your survival.” The Hunters were Holocaust survivors. Priced at £475 (British pounds, or approximately $788 in U.S. dollars).
There are great writers and great leaders, but few combine such greatnesses as well as Winston Churchill. He will always be best remembered for his inspiring leadership through Britain's darkest hour, rallying the people against seemingly hopeless odds to resist the Germans in World War II. However, Churchill was also a prolific writer, penning a thorough account of the war his nation and its allies won. He wrote much more. More than 40 years earlier, he was already beginning to publish accounts of his adventures. Item 53 is Churchill's My Early Life. A Roving Commission. It was not published until 1930, but covers his life up to 1904, when he reached the age of 30. Even by then, he had served as a war correspondent, been imprisoned and escaped, and had served as a Member of Parliament. Still, his career had barely begun. £1,750 (US $2,902).
Churchill was not the only World War II leader to pen a book, and we are not talking about Hitler's hate-laced diatribe. Il Duce, Italy's war leader Benito Mussolini, also wrote a book, though it is little remembered. His writing skills were not such as to earn great acclaim. Item 207 is Mussolini's The Cardinal's Mistress, published in 1929. He had written it 20 years earlier, the story being serialized in a newspaper supplement. It was justly forgotten after that, but resurrected after the author became the head of his government. It is the tale of a fictional 17th century cardinal and the problems he encounters when he falls in love. Essentially, Mussolini used what is generally described as an uninspiring piece of writing to attack the clergy, something he wished to tone down after coming to power. £750 (US $1,243).
Here is another World War II era “hero,” heroic deeds being easier to accomplish when you aren't real. Still, I fear more people know his name today than know that of Churchill. Item 190 is The Adventures of Superman. Based on the cartoon character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Released during the war – 1942 – Harrington describes this as “the first novelization of a comic book character.” Written by George Lowther, it was also the first Superman story credited to someone other than Siegel. Considering that copies of the first Superman comic book, published just 3 years earlier, have sold for millions of dollars, this is a much more reasonable opportunity. £2,250 (US $3,731).
Next we have the introduction to a young lady who is not so much a hero as a celebrity, and a very well known one at that. She is also as real as Superman. Item 16 is Here's Barbie, by Cynthia Lawrence and Betty Lou Maybee. This and two other Barbie books were released simultaneously in 1962. The cover tells us it contains “stories about the fabulous Barbie and her boyfriend 'Ken.'” Barbie was a doll, quite literally, created three years earlier, but who had already achieved sufficient status to merit a book or three. She stirred up her share of controversy, with her plastic image and seeming argument for the beauty of anorexia. Nevertheless, she certainly has become an iconic symbol for something or other, loved and hated for whatever it is she stands for. As an aside, the doll manufacturer announced that Barbie and Ken had split up in 2004, sad as they would have been in their 60's by then. This copy is inscribed by Maybee. £475 (US $788).
We now turn to some much weightier matters than Barbie – Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, by Ludwig Wittgenstein, published in 1922. It was Wittgenstein's first attempt to describe the meaning of language, finding that words provide “pictures” of things. It was something of a scientific, empirical explanation of how language works, and it led to many important followers in the logical positivism movement, including Bertrand Russell, who provided an introduction. The book remains influential, though Wittgenstein later renounced most of what he propounded in the Tractatus, concluding that the meaning of words is based on how they are used, rather than as pictures of the world. Item 322. £2,250 (US $3,731).