Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2014 Issue

Mostly Scientific Works from Antiquariat Michael Kuhn

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Mostly antiquarian scientific works from Michael Kuhn.

Antiquariat Michael Kuhn has issued a catalogue that has no name. Other than the bookseller's name, the only word offered is “Berlin,” which tells us where they are located, but not the subject matter. However, that city does imply the books are European in origin, and the “Antquariat” of the bookseller's name tells us that they are mostly very old works, 19th century or earlier. Here is one more thing that a reading of the catalogue reveals: this is mostly a selection of scientific works. There are a few exceptions, such as the memorial to Martin Luther's house. A few works are primarily musical, though they focus on more scientific aspects, such as harmonics. Here are a few of the items to be found in this latest selection from Berlin.

 

We probably shouldn't start a collection of serious scientific works with a fraud, but the fakes are generally the most entertaining. This book is titled Reise durch einen theil der Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika in den Jahren 1844 bis 1846. (Travel to parts of the United States of North America in the years 1844 to 1846). The author was the native German Albert C. Koch, and what he found in America was unbelievable. Nonetheless, many were tricked into believing him. Koch immigrated to St. Louis in the 1830's, where he set up a museum near today's Gateway Arch. He was interested in natural history, and gathered many specimens. However, he was also a promoter in the P. T. Barnum mold, meaning accuracy and truth were not limitations on what he presented. He soon sold his museum and hit the road. He took time off to hunt for fossils, primarily in Missouri, to display, which led to the piece de resistance of his traveling show, which he brought to Europe. It was the “hydrarchos.” Koch collected the fossil bones of what we now know as basilosaurus, a type of whale that lived 40 million years ago. He cheated. Koch strung together the bones of at least 6 basilosauri so as to make the creature much longer than it actually was. His creature stretched 114 feet (he further exaggerated claiming it was 140). Nor did Koch even limit himself to basilosaurus bones, adding some ammonite shells for added effects. Despite confrontations from legitimate scientists, Koch's show went on until he sold his specimens. Priced at €2,200 (euros, or approximately $2,761 U. S. dollars).

 

Next we have a collection of steroscopic views from Les Eyzies in the Dordogne department of southwestern France: Station prehistorique de Laugerie Basse et Grotte du Grand Roc, undated but early 20th century. This is an area of caves filled with magnificent mineral structures. What is even more remarkable about these caves is they are home to some of the earliest examples of human artwork, surprisingly good depictions of animals that lived in the area, drawn by Cro-Magnon man 12,000 years ago. €5,200 (US $6,518).

 

This item has a long, multilingual title: Fuci, sive, Plantarum Fucorum generi a botanicis ascriptarum icones descriptiones et historia... / Fuci, or, Colored figures and descriptions of the plants referred by botanists to the Genus Fucus... The work was long enough to deserve such a long title, four volumes published 1807-1819. The author of this massive botanical set was Dawson Turner, a banker. That was his day job, anyway. Turner was also a botanist and antiquary, with a particular interest in cryptogamic plants (those that reproduce by spores rather than seeds). This book is focused on seaweed, and contains descriptions and images of many newly discovered species, particularly of those brought back from the new English colony of Australia. This set was published in small numbers at Turner's expense. Fortunately, he received a large inheritance which allowed him to carry out and publish his work. €7,800 (US $9,778).

 

From sea plants, we go to sea animals that look more like plants: Die Synascidien der Bucht von Istrien (the Ascidians of the Bay of Istria), Istria being located in Croatia. This is the work of Richard von Drasche, published in 1883. Ascidians are commonly known as sea squirts, as they will squirt water when removed from the sea. They aren't removed easily, though some live in the intertidal zone where they can be partly exposed. Sea squirts are those things that look like plants, often pretty flowers, that attach themselves to a rock or some object, with root-like appendages which even more give them the appearance of plants. For the first day or two of their lives, they swim around like tadpoles, but once they find a landing spot, they attach themselves there for life. Evidently, they are not easily bored. They are fairly rudimentary creatures, though they are considered more like us than just about any other invertebrate animal. The author of this work was an industrialist, another man with sufficient funds to be able to support his own research. The book contains numerous plates depicting the variety of these little creatures. €1,200 (US $1,505).

 

Next up is Descrizione delle ultime eruzioni del Monte Vesuvio (Description of the last eruption of Mount Vesuvius), by Andrea Pigonati. This is not actually the last eruption of Vesuvius, but was the latest at the time this book was published – 1768. It erupted in 1767, but has continued to do so many times since. Visitors beware. The author was an officer in the Corps of Engineers for Naples. He was involved in such tasks as cleaning up ports, while he also developed an interest in remnants of antiquity he found. However, he visited Vesuvius at the time of the the 1767 eruption, and being a writer, he prepared this account of what he saw. €1,600 (US $2,007).

 

Antiquariat Michael Kuhn may be contacted at 0049 – (0)30 86 39 69 34 or kuehn.rarebooks@arcor.de. The website is www.kuehn-books.de.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <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.

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