Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2015 Issue

50 Rare Books & Manuscripts from Peter Harrington

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Fifty Rare Books & Manuscripts.

Peter Harrington has issued Catalogue 111. Fifty Rare Books & Manuscripts. While these books and manuscripts are rare, they are not obscure. They include some of the most important books written, and most of the personalities who wrote the books and other items are familiar names, even if they lived long ago. This is a catalogue for those who collect on the highest level. Here are a few examples.

 

Winston Churchill gave a lot of speeches, wrote a lot of books, and still managed to find time to save the world. Item 6 is Blood, Sweat and Tears, the first U. S. edition, published in 1941. It is a collection of Churchill's speeches from early in the war, and he certainly would have wanted an edition published in America. He was trying to convince the American public that the world's survival depended on their joining with the British to defeat Germany and its allies. This is a remarkable copy as it not only is signed by Churchill, but over 50 other people relevant to the times. Among those are Churchill's wife, Clementine, Field-Marshal Montgomery, the Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII), future Prime Minister Anthony Eden, and many others, from government, military leadership, and combat. The signatures were gathered by Arthur Hostler, a member of the British Air Commission during the war who later worked for BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation, today's British Airways). As such, he was in contact with many important individuals. Priced at £32,500 (British pounds, or approximately $50,363 in U.S. dollars).

 

The irony in the provenance of this book matches the irony of the world's major Marxist-Communist country being the very capitalistic China. Item 30 is the first volume of Karl Marx's Das Kapital, published in 1867. It is Marx's study of economics, though it is more an indictment of the capitalist system. While his theories were just theoretical in the century in which Marx lived, in the 20th century, vast swaths of the world were covered with nations that followed his theories. Few are left today. What makes this copy particularly interesting in a most ironic way is its history. It was bound for the Hamburger Borsen-Clubb, the club of the Hanseatic Stock Exchange. Item 30. £77,500 (US $120,137).

 

One of the most valuable of 20th century books is the first edition of James Joyce's epic day-in-the-life novel Ulysses. Set in his native Ireland, which Joyce left for Europe, the entire lengthy novel takes place in just one day of 1904. Ulysses was considered obscene by many, notably censors, the result being that most publishers shied away. Joyce was finally able to get his opus published by Shakespeare & Co. in more liberal Paris in 1922. A total of 1,000 copies were published, but this is one of only 100 copies that were signed by Joyce and printed on Dutch handmade paper. This one belonged to, and has the remnants of the bookplate of, Annie Winifred Ellerman, better known by her pen name "Bryher." She came from a wealthy family, her father being a wealthy Englishman, the richest Englishman ever at the time. It afforded her the opportunity to write, and she wrote many books over the course of her life, more popular in their time than today. Bryher and her husband at the time, Robert McAlmon, became friends with Joyce in Paris in 1921 and McAlmon was Joyce's typist for sections of the manuscript. Item 24. £250,000 (US $388,217).

 

We know this classic as Black Beauty, though the first edition's complete title is Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions. The Autobiography of a Horse. Translated from the Original Equine, by Anna Sewell. I'll let you in on a secret. After all these years it can be revealed. It was not the horse's autobiography. It was actually written by Anna Sewell, not translated by her. Anna Sewell lived a tragic life. At the age of 14, she suffered a terrible fall, breaking both her ankles. She could never stand again without a crutch and only walk short distances. Later in life, her condition deteriorated and she became mostly bedridden. It was during this period that she wrote Black Beauty, her one and only published work. Due to her difficulty walking, Miss Sewell, who never married and spent most of her life with her parents, did much riding in horse-drawn carriages. She developed a love for horses, and in particular, sympathy for them, having seen many mistreated. Her aim in writing Black Beauty was not to create a children's story. It was to raise awareness of mistreatment of horses, and teach people not just to love animals, but to love their fellow humans as well. The Sewells were a very religious family, and Anna focused not so much on the theological part as on the importance of love for animals and other people. Anna had already passed the age of 50 when she began writing her book. She died at the age of 58, only a few months after it was published. She did not live to see it become one of the best selling books ever, though she did see that it received a good initial response. This copy is inscribed to "The Revd J Drake, from his sincere friend, Mary Sewell." Mary was Anna's mother. Most inscribed copies are from Mary. Anna did not live long enough, nor was her health such as to enable her to inscribe many copies. Mary was also an author, a writer of popular children's books, whose output far exceeded the one book of her daughter. Item 36. £12,500 (US $19,393).

 

Item 18 is a presentation copy of Ernest Hemingway's Winner Take Nothing, published in 1933. It is the nature of the presentation that is notable. There are two inscriptions. The first is "To M. Gellhorn my old Professor in aesthetics from E. Hemingstein." Hemingway used many aliases among friends, and one can speculate why "Hemingstein" was one of them. M. Gellhorn was Martha Gellhorn, and she would become Hemingway's second wife in 1940. However, this was likely inscribed in 1936 when they had newly met and Hemingway was still married to his first wife. There is then a second inscription which reads, "PS 1939 I love you EH." It was a stormy marriage that would end in divorce. These were two strong personalities, neither about to give in. Gellhorn was a writer and journalist, most notably a war correspondent. They got married just as the Second World War had begun, and Gellhorn soon went off to report on the war. Hemingway was not pleased that his bride was rarely at home. The war and their marriage ended together in 1945. £42,500 (US $65,873).

 

Peter Harrington may be reached at 020 7591 0220 or mail@peterharrington.co.uk. Their website is www.peterharrington.co.uk.

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