Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2016 Issue

Recent Acquisitions from Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller


Catalogue 216.

Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller has published Catalogue 216 of Mostly Recent Acquisitions. Offered is a mix of material hard to describe, other than it is all quite old, generally early 19th century and older. Among the topics we find science, architecture, and medicine. There are several treatises on the medicinal properties of various spring waters from the days when many believed they contained the cures for a myriad of ailments. Then we find much material of a bibliographic nature, including catalogues of notable collections as well as auction catalogues of sales of great collections of two or three centuries ago. The most frequently appearing language represented is French, but others, including English and German, can readily be found. Here are a few samples of what we found among these recent acquisitions, but it can only provide a glimpse at what is inside.


We begin with a book from the early days of aeronautics. In the 1780's, long before airplanes, ballooning became a craze. Europe was the center of early attempts, though some Americans got in on the action. Benjamin Franklin was a notable proponent of lighter-than-air flight. However, England was a bit slow. The first manned balloon flight in England was actually performed by an Italian, Vincenzo Lunardi, in 1784. The following year, he loaned his balloon to Thomas Baldwin, who provided a detailed account of his two flights in 1786 in Airopaidia: Containing the Narrative of a Balloon Excursion from Chester, the eighth of September, 1785... His book ranges from the poetic in its description of what he observed to technical aspects of flights and recommendations Baldwin makes. However, what is most notable about this book is it provided the first illustrations of earth taken from the sky. Baldwin notes that everything seems flat, like a map, even though there are hills and such down below. It was a partly cloudy day as part of the earth's surface in his drawings is obscured by clouds below. The views of earth were created from sketches Baldwin made while in the air. Item 38. Priced at $4,500.


This next book describes some major scientific discoveries, though the discoverer himself has been surprisingly forgotten. Item 61 is Expériences sur les Végétaux, spécialement sur la propriété qu'ils possèdent à un haut degré, soit d'améliorer s'air quand ils sont au soleil, soit de le corrompre la nuit... This roughly translates to experiments on plants, particularly their property of improving air when in the sun, and corrupting it at night. The book was published in 1780 and the author was Dutch scientist Jan Ingenhousz. What Ingenhousz discovered was photosynthesis, as well as the fact that plants breathed during the night. Joseph Priestly had discovered a few years earlier that plants could restore air unfit to breath because of combustion, that is, the removal of oxygen. Ingenhousz was first to realize that it was only the green parts of plants that had this capability. Additionally, he discovered this only happened in the presence of sunlight. Meanwhile, at night, plants gave off carbon dioxide, like breathing animals. Finally, he determined that the amount of oxygen given off during the day was greater than the amount of carbon dioxide released at night. From this, he was able to deduce that part of plants' structure was composed of gasses absorbed from the air, not just from the ground. $1,250.


Here is one of those auction catalogues, and it presented the collection of a man noted for more than book collecting. Item 17 is Catalogue de Livres provenant des Bibliotheques du feu Roi Louis-Philippe (1852) bound with Catalogue de Livres provenant de la Bibliotheque du Chateau d'Eu (1853). This was the sale of the library of Louis-Philippe, the former King of France, who died in 1850. He succeeded Charles X, a reactionary, unpopular monarch who was forced to abdicate in 1830. Louis Philippe was welcomed by those seeking democratic reforms and a benevolent monarch, but in time, he too became authoritarian and unpopular. He was also forced to abdicate, in 1848, and lived the remaining two years of his life in England. Louis Philippe built himself an excellent collection, featuring illuminated manuscripts, early printed books, and fine bindings, which were sold at auction. $1,500.


This next auction catalogue dispersed the collection of a fascinating woman, one of the great women collectors of the age, the turn of the 18th century: Catalogue des Livres de feue Madame la Comtesse de Verruë... Jeanne Baptiste d'Albert de Luynes, the Countess of Verruë, was evidently an honorable lady, but circumstances, and her family, worked against her virtue. She made the most of her situation. She was born to a family of solid means, related to royalty, and close to the government. The Countess was well educated. In 1683, she married the Count of Verua, a handsome, honorable diplomat. She was just 13 years old at the time. They had four children, and all seemed well. However, the Count worked for the Duke of Savoy, who took a shine to her. He made passes at her, she honorably avoided them, only to find her mother-in-law pushing a liaison, her husband going along. Eventually, she consented, had two children with the Duke, her husband later died in battle, and the Countess did well financially. By the time she died, she had a magnificent collection of art, furniture, and 18,000 books. Despite the large number of books, they were combined so as to be sold in just 389 lots. The auction took place in 1737, the year after she died. Item 36. $4,950.


Item 69 is the greatly expanded third edition of Traité Physique et Historique de l'Aurore Boréale... Published in 1754, this work of Jean Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan was the first extensive treatise on the Aurora Borealis. De Mairan was a scientist, studying astronomy and various subjects related to the sun, such as circadian rhythms. He understood the connection between the sun and the aurora, but his theory was that the sun's atmosphere at times extended into that of the earth, causing the effect. $3,000.


Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller may be reached at 646-827-0724 or jahillbooks@aol.com. The website is www.jonathanahill.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <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. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. 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. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>

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