Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2016 Issue

Valuable and Uncommon Books from Michel Scognamillo Livres Anciens et Modernes

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The first catalogue from Michel Scognamillo.

Michel Scognamillo Livres Ancien et Modernes has issued their first catalogue, Un Choix de Livres – Précieux ou Curieux. That translates to "a choice of books – valuable or uncommon." Obviously, this catalogue is written in French. Not surprisingly, many of the books are written in French as well. However, others are not. The "anciens" part of the books are often in Latin. Many are seriously anciens, dating as far back as the 15th century. There are also some books in English, and if that is insufficient for English collectors, there are several more that will appeal to those who collect English writers or French books – French editions of books written by English or American authors.

 

It is hard to place these books into a specific category, as variety is inevitable when such a wide date range is represented. The items appear in chronological order and date from 1492 until 1966. The topics of typical books evolved over five centuries. Fortunately, M. Scagnamillo is a noted expert in the book trade, so the selections are universally significant and desirable even as subjects change.

 

Before describing a few samples, I need to acknowledge a personal shortcoming in this review. The catalogue is entirely in French, and my familiarity with the language is limited to high school instruction half a century ago. Even then, I was a mediocre student. My intentions here are good, but my skills are sorely wanting. I cannot guarantee perfection in descriptions.

 

We will begin with one of those works which bridge English and French collectors. The book, actually a one-act play, is written in French: Salomé. Drame en un acte. Nevertheless, the author is the English-speaking (though Irish) writer Oscar Wilde. Wilde would have several occasions to prefer things French to those English, spending his last few years in France in self-imposed exile after having been imprisoned in England. However, this play was written much earlier, and this first edition was written in French for a different reason. The drama is loosely based on a New Testament story, and as such was proscribed from performances in England, where it was illegal to put on a play based on biblical characters. So, Wilde responded by writing the play in French. As such, this is the true first edition, not a first translated one. Item 48 is one of only 50 copies of the 1893 first edition on handmade paper and contains a most interesting inscription and provenance. It was inscribed from Paris in the year of publication to Madame Arman de Caillavet. Born Léontine Lippmann, she married Albert Arman, though she is less remembered for her marriage than her long-running affair with author Anatole France. Mme Arman de Caillavet was noted for her salon in Paris, and many if not all of the great French authors and visiting writers of the day made their appearances at her home. That included Wilde. Priced at €55,000 (euros, or approximately $60,973 U.S. dollars).

 

Next up is one of the great masterpieces of French literature, Les Trois Mousquetaires (Three Musketeers), by Alexandre Dumas. This is a lengthy novel, eight volumes in this 1844 first edition. It is a work of historical fiction, set in the 17th century, the time of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu, one of the historical figures who makes his appearances. It is based on the memoirs of Charles d'Artagnan and the three musketeers he befriended, but while d'Artagnan was real, these memoirs are fictional. The condition of this set is described as exceptional. Item 30. €100,000 (US $110,860).

 

In the days before much understanding of psychological issues and the existence of psychiatric help, Robert Burton recognized an issue still common today, even if his comprehension of it was limited. Item 9 is The Anatomy of Melancholy What it is, With all kindes, causes, symptomes, prognostickes and severall cures of it..., a first edition published in 1621. What Burton called "melancholy" is what today we would refer to as depression. Burton suffered from it, and so did many of his contemporaries and later generations, as attested by his book running through over 70 editions. Burton did not know the cause, nor much of a cure, but he sympathized with fellow sufferers, and compiled what advice was known in his day to at least provide some comfort. Burton found distraction to be helpful, advising his readers to keep busy with other activities. He also recommended traveling to places where melancholy was not so prevalent. If not the most modern advice, this book is still recognized for its great importance as a precursor to psychiatry. €25,000 (US $27,715).

 

Here is a man whose name has become sort of a term of endearment more than a proper name. Item 28 is a biography of Casanova, the real person. Giacomo Casanova was an 18th century native of Venice, a diplomat, though he did spend much of his life in France. He was a hopeless romantic. He seduced countless women along the way, charm being his method of conquest. These were not bar pick-ups, but elaborate productions. He would generally find a woman somewhat vulnerable, romance her, treat her with great respect, perhaps help financially, and eventually so charm and indebt her she could not resist. When he tired of the relationship, Casanova would assure the lady he was unworthy of her and help find a more suitable man for her station. Those interested in learning how one accomplishes such a reputation can read his memoirs, Memoires de J. Casanova... 12 volumes published from 1826-1838. Item 28. €25,000 (US $27,715).

 

Michel Scognamillo Livres Ancien et Modernes may be reached at +33 (0)6 77 13 92 76 or scolivre@gmail.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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

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