Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2016 Issue

40 Rare, Smaller Format Books from Librairie Clavreuil


Forty rare books.

Librairie Clavreuil of Paris has issued a catalogue of Quarante Livres Rares de Petit Format. That would be 40 rare books in a small format. The dates range from 1525-1955. This catalogue, obviously, is in French. It is also true of the books presented. You will need some familiarity with the language to fully appreciate the books and descriptions. My own familiarity is quite limited, but we'll give it a shot. Here are a few of the books available.


The best children's books are those that appeal equally to adults. There is no greater children cum adult stories written in the French language than the Fables Choises, Mises en Vers of Jean de La Fontaine (selected fables in verse). La Fontaine was a 17th century French poet remembered mostly for these fables. The first set was issued in 1668, the last volume in 1694. The fables were meant to be instructive to children, filled with moral lessons taught by animals. Indeed, the fables were for the Dauphin, son of King Louis XIV, when he was 7 years old. This would be the Grand Dauphin, the great Dauphin, versus the Petit Dauphin, the small Dauphin, his son. Both waited to succeed to the throne while Louis XIV lived on and on. He outlived them both. Item 19. Priced at €85,000 euros, or approximately $93,442 in U.S. currency).


Speaking of the Sun King, Louis XIV, some writers were not above ridiculing him, though hiding behind anonymity. Louis was first married in 1660 to a proper royal connection. It was not a perfect marriage, Louis taking on lovers, though no worse than many such arranged royal marriages. He had a couple of illegitimate children with a favored lover, who would later be legitimized. Madame de Maintenon would first appear in the royal household as a caretaker for those children and aid to the King's lover. In time, The King took a shine to Madame de Maintenon in place of his former love. That was the situation when the Queen died in July 1683. Just three months later, the King apparently married Mme de Maintenon. We say apparently as there was no official announcement, or public record of a marriage, though historians generally agree the two were married, and so remained. Mme de Maintenon was not of proper blood. She could not be Queen or such official position. The result of her status often led to digs about her and the King. Here is one from many years after the marriage – 1710. Item 26 is Entretien entre Louis XIV, Roy de France, et Madame la Marquise de Maintenon. It is supposedly a conversation between Louis and Mme de Maintenon that was an attack on the lady. €1,200 (US $1,320).


This book is something of an obscurity from a writer who was friendly with some of the most important names of his era, but has mostly faded into time. Pierre Simon Ballanche was a philosopher and theologian, a man who came of age during the French Revolution, and spent much of his life trying to make sense of it all. His problem was that he perhaps made it even more confusing to his readers. He had some kind of theological-philosophical construct that put him in no one else's view. It represented some sort of Christian aspect of the world, fall and rebirth, and various other forces I won't try to explain since I can't even understand explanations of his explanations. His acceptance of return to monarchy made him unpopular with those who had supported the Revolution, while his belief that the Revolution was part of the way things worked and therefore acceptable made him unpopular with monarchists. Meanwhile, his hard to decipher theories undoubtedly made him unpopular with most readers. Item 34 is L'Homme Sans Nom, the man with no name, published in 1820. It is quite a rare book, it having been rare even when new, published in just 100 copies. Ballanche instinctively knew it would not be a best seller. €1,200 (US $1,320).


This is a first French edition of a novel published in England three years earlier. The story of how Mary Shelley, wife of English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, came to write her best-known book, Frankenstein, is well known. While on vacation, a group of friends had a contest to see who could write the best ghost story. Mary was but 19 years old at the time, and while I have never seen any official results of that contest, I would guess Mary won. Frankenstein is still Frankenstein, even when translated to French, so the title is the same. The first French was published in 1821, and may be hard to find in a search as this edition misspelled her last name as "Shelly." It is also dedicated to William Godwin, saying it was written by his niece, which is one I can't figure out, since she was Godwin's daughter. Perhaps just another mistake. Item 36. €30,000 (US $32,963).


Librairie Clavreuil may be reached at +33 (0)1 43 26 97 69 or basane@thomas-scheler.fr

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <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>
  • <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

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