Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2005 Issue

50 Exceptional Items From Asher Rare Books

R0615

Asher Rare Books' Jubliee Catalogue, with Redoute flowers on the cover.


By Michael Stillman

Asher Rare Books
has recently issued its Jubilee Catalogue 35--A selection of 50 interesting Atlases, Books, Charts, Manuscripts and Maps. Asher Rare Books has been in the book business for 175 years. Started by Adolphus Asher in 1830, the firm counted among its clients in those early days scientists such as Darwin and Humboldt. After over a century in Berlin, Asher moved to Amsterdam during the darkening days in Germany of 1933. A decade ago, the firm made one more move, to Ijmuiden, to the west of Amsterdam.

Asher Rare Books lists its specialties as natural history, science, and travel and voyages. Here are a few of the items among their selection of fifty very special works.

Item 1, shown on the catalogue's cover (see image to the left) is a watercolor by famed flower artist Pierre Joseph Redoute. Born in Luxembourg in 1759, Redoute would develop his drawing skills, and his specialty in flowers, in France. He would be appointed an art teacher to Queen Marie-Antoinette in the 1780s. When she lost her head, quite literally, Redoute would receive appointments as artists to both of Napoleon's wives. His reputation grew like the flowers he painted, and Redoute would come to be known as one of the greatest botanic painters who ever lived. Evidently aspiring American birds artist John James Audubon met Redoute during a visit to Paris in 1828 and considered this meeting the highlight of his trip. This watercolor features three open flowers, all varieties of anemone, with the buds of a ranunculus and sweet pea in the background. The drawing is signed "P.J. Redoute." Priced at €65,000 (Euros).

Item 10 is the first French edition (a year after the first German) of Brieve & Fidele Exposition de l'Origin....de l'Eglise de l'Unite des freres.... This is a history of the Moravian United Brethren, particularly their work in Greenland, as well as with American Indians (likely in Pennsylvania) and black slaves in the West Indies. The book is noted for its illustrations, which cover two pages, of various ceremonies, including baptisms, exorcism, marriage, feet washing, and the "holy kiss." This book, printed in 1758, states no author or place of printing, though it is most often attributed to David Cranz, and Asher believes, contrary to earlier assumptions, that it was also printed in Germany, as was the German first edition. €4,500.

Item 15 is Theologia Mystica cum Speculative....by Hendrik Herpf. This is an abbreviated collection of works written by the 15th century theologian published in Cologne in 1538. Herpf is noted for mysticism in his theology, and while this book was very popular, it was placed on the prohibited list for awhile until certain offending sections were removed. This copy comes with a notable provenance. It was once owned by Pope Pius VI and contains his gold-tooled coat of arms. Pius VI served as Pope from 1775-1799, a long rule in what was a very difficult time for the Church. Its authority was challenged, first in Germany, and then France with the French Revolution. Church property in France was seized, and later Napoleon would invade its home territory in Rome. Pius VI was forcibly removed, and brought to several places, culminating with a trip over the Alps by the seriously ill Pope to Valence, France, where he died a short time later. Residents of Baltimore may recall this Pope for establishing the Diocese of Baltimore in 1789. €7,500.

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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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