Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2014 Issue

Incunabula from Oslo Rare Books

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Incunables from Oslo Rare Books.

We recently received our first catalogue from Oslo Rare Books, of Oslo, Norway. The title is Incunables, which is to say these are books over 500 years old. There are 14 items offered, and all, save one, is an incunable. The “new” book dates to 1508. Despite their location, the catalogue is not written in Norwegian. The bookseller has a French connection, and as such, though several languages appear, it is primarily written in French. This will not be easy to describe for one with very limited knowledge of French, and even less of the Latin and other languages in which these books were written. Still, collectors of incunabula likely have better knowledge of Latin and old versions of Romance languages, so perhaps you will recognize these very early printed works. Here are some samples.

 

We start with a history of Florence, though certainly not a recent history. Item 2 is Historia Fiorentina di Messer Poggio. This history covers the years 1350-1455. The author was Poggio Bracciolini, who lived from 1380-1459. Poggio was a scholar and humanist, who spent most of his adult life in the employ of the Church. Most of his books were more philosophical and moral in subject, but he had come to Florence for his education and decided to write a history of the city. He is perhaps even better known for his role in tracking down ancient manuscripts, lost in various monasteries around Europe, and bringing them back to life. His most notable find was De rerum natura by the first century Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius. It recounted the even earlier teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. This work would play an important role in Renaissance thought. Poggio found the only extant copy of this work in a German monastery. Through his life, Poggio served under six popes and one anti-pope. He wrote his history in Latin, but this 1476 printed edition was translated into Italian by his son, Jacopo Poggio. Priced at €12,000 (euros, or approximately $14,884 in U.S. dollars).

 

This next book is another history from part of today's Italy, but from much longer ago: Antiquitates Romanae. This is a history of very ancient Rome, written shortly before the year Zero by Greek historian Denys Halicarnaseus (Dionysius Halicarnassus). Halicarnassus spent many years in Rome studying its history and language, with hopes of convincing his fellow Greeks that their conquerors were not such bad people after all, and shared a noble, ancient history. This book traces Rome's history from its mythical, prehistoric days to the First Punic War, which ended in 241 BC. Halicarnassus' history was translated by Lampo Birago, an admirer of ancient Greek culture and a translator for the papal curia. It is believed he translated this work in 1469 at the behest of Pope Paul II. This book was printed by Bernardin Celerius in 1480. Celerius had presses in several Italian cities during his printing career, this being one of the very few books he printed in Treviso. Item 6. €22,000 (US $27,238).

 

Here is the “new” book in this catalogue, Speculum naturalis coelestis & propheticae visionis, published in 1508. This is an occult work, a set of prophetic visions based on astrological signs by Joseph Grunpeck, published in Nuremberg. Grunpeck is perhaps better known for his two books on the connection between astrology and the “French disease” (syphilis). Evidently, he could see all sorts of things in the stars. In this book of prophesy, Grunpeck foresaw all sorts of terrible things including destruction of the social order, overthrow of the government, and disintegration of the Church. It may have been this latter prophesy, along with his belief in the occult, that got this book placed on the index of books proscribed by the Church. This work is highlighted by 13 woodcuts created by Wolf Traut, an assistant to Albrecht Durer at the time. Item 14. €10,000 (US $12,387).

 

Item 4 is another work written well before the time of printing: De la Cita d'Dio (the City of God). The author was Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine), who wrote this treatise on numerous theological issues early in the fifth century. This edition is undated and without a named location, though some sleuthing has placed it as being printed in Venice between 1476 and 1478. The printer was Antonio di Bartolomeo Miscomini and it was originally believed to have been printed in Florence, but notations in one copy and watermarks indicate it came from Miscomini's earlier press in Venice. This was the first edition translated to the vernacular Italian. €22,500 (US $27,872).

 

Oslo Rare Books may be reached at 0047 908 58 415 or oslo.rare.books@gmail.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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

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