Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2015 Issue

50 Cartographic Masterpieces from Daniel Crouch Rare Books

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Catalogue VII of cartography.

Daniel Crouch Rare Books has issued their Catalogue VII, and it is spectacular. Their specialty is antique atlases, maps, plans, sea charts, globes, scientific instruments, and voyages from the 15th - 19th centuries. They have devoted over 200 large pages to just 50 items. They are worthy of the detailed explanations and numerous illustrations provided. Crouch begins with a quote from writer and book critic Michael Dirda: "As book collectors know all too well: We only regret our economies, never our extravagances." There are no regrets in this catalogue. It is all either top of the line or over the top of the line. Here are a few of these items.

 

We begin with an early atlas, containing the first separately printed map of the Western Hemisphere. Item 7 is a 1550 edition of Sebastian Munster's Cosmographia. It also contains the first true set of maps of the four continents. The map of North America is particularly interesting since it is so early. The Gulf of Mexico, including Florida, is reasonably recognizable. The east coast is east west more than north south, but still recognizable with one major flaw. Verazzano had spotted a ship on what he thought was the other side of an isthmus. He therefore concluded there must be a great inland sea, ranging all the way from the Pacific Ocean almost to the Atlantic. This sea is present on Munster's map. In reality, Verazzano was just seeing to the other side of the Atlantic barrier islands. Being thoroughly unfamiliar with the Pacific side, he made the continent rather narrow with a fairly straight coast, with requisite imagined coves and such, on the western side. He was also aware of the existence of Japan, but misjudged its location. The result is a large island among many small ones, parked off the west coast of America. He likewise misjudged the size of the Pacific Ocean, making it much smaller than it is. However, he does get credit for creating the first map to include the name Magellan gave this ocean – Mare Pacificum, or Pacific Ocean. There is much more in this work, including a plate of various scary-looking sea monsters such as never existed outside of someone's imagination. Priced at £150,000 (British pounds, or approximately $231,250 in U.S. dollars).

 

This next item has been described as "the most luxurious and intrinsically beautiful scientific book that has ever been produced." High praise, indeed. Item 6 is a first edition of Petrus Apianus' (Peter Apian) Astronimicum Caesareum, published in 1540. Apianus had earlier worked in the field of geography, and it was once thought his 1520 map was the first to use the name "America" for the New World (it may be second only to Waldseemuller). However, he would soon turn to the sky, with this great work being focused on the movement of celestial bodies, including comets. It was Apianus who first realized that the tails of comets always point away from the sun. This book features numerous volvelles, those rotating paper disks that enable one to monitor the positions of celestial bodies as they move across the heavens. They were sort of the computers of their time. This book was so rare and hard to obtain, even in its day, that Henry VIII was not able to obtain it without the author's assistance. Around 35 copies are believed to have survived, with Crouch noting that this is, "one of the, if not the, most complete copy to have ever appeared on the market." £1,250,000 (US $1,927,400).

 

Item 13 is a later copy of the Ortelius atlas, Theatro del Mondo di Abrahamo Ortelio, published in 1608. This is one of the editions published by Jan Baptist Vrients. Vrients purchased the stock of Abraham Ortelius, who died in 1598, from his heirs. Ortelius produced the great atlases of the 16th century, though they would be surpassed in the following century by the Dutch, who created the most spectacular examples of them all. This item is a fascinating one as it is accompanied by a letter to Ortelius from a friend named Vryfpenninck in Lisbon. Nothing is known of the latter other than he must have known Ortelius from Antwerp as he sends his regards through Ortelius to another friend there. In his letter, Vryfpenninck warns Ortelius of what type of material is likely to be seized by the Inquisition if sent there. It seems that anything erotic or heretical would not be well received. The standards of what was considered heretical were obviously quite broad because even liberal Catholic theologian Erasmus was so listed. Vryfpenninck occasionally switches from Latin to Dutch in his letter, and that may be because those in Lisbon who might intercept his words would be less likely to understand Dutch. He talks about rolling up and covering material in boxes, which while ostensibly packing instructions may have been a disguised message as to how to smuggle prohibited material into the country. £250,000 (US $385,500).

 

This takes us to the greatest atlas of all. During the 17th century, in the years following Ortelius, a great competition developed in the atlas publishing business. On one side was the partnership of Hondius and Janssonius, on the other Willem Blaeu and his son, Johannes (or Joan). They strove to outdo each other, creating progressively larger and better atlases. After Willem Blaeu died, his son took over, and began, over many years, producing the maps and atlas that would surpass all. From 1659-1665, he produced his Atlas Major in five languages. An estimated total of 1,550 copies covering all five editions were printed. That included 5.4 million pages of text and 950,000 copper plate impressions. Item 15 is a French edition, somewhat larger and more expensive than the others. The title, in French, is Le Grand Atlas, and it cost 450 guilders. For comparison, the average house in Amsterdam at the time cost 500 guilders. It was the most expensive book produced in the 17th century. The atlas contains 12 volumes, two on France for this edition. The American volume contains 23 maps, including some of the earliest of Virginia and New England. The west coast is rather vague, except for one misconception – California is depicted as an island. Item 15. £750,000 (US $1,156,000).

 

The Blaeus did not only make maps and atlases. They put their cartographic skills to the even more challenging design of globes. Item 46 is a set of their globes, one terrestrial, the other celestial. There were four states. The first was created in 1617, the last in 1645-48. These are from the fourth and final edition. This final state contains revisions made by Johannes after his father's death, taking into account discoveries made during what was the Age of Discovery. The celestial globe did not require such regular adjustments. £1,250,000 (US $1,927,400).

 

Daniel Crouch Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)20 7042 0240 or info@crouchrarebooks.com. Their website is found at www.crouchrarebooks.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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