Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2005 Issue

Bibliography and Reference from Forest Books of the U.K.

Forest

English book arts from Forest Books.


By Michael Stillman

This month we review our first catalogue from the British bookseller Forest Books. This is their catalogue number 104, Bibliography, Bookbinding, and Reference. It is an excellent assortment of titles pertaining to the book arts, and includes an unusually large number of early book auction catalogues, many from the early 19th century. Most of the major collections that went on the block in those days are virtually impossible to duplicate today, so much of the material is now firmly ensconced in institutional collections. The material in this catalogue cannot help but interest the serious book collector. Here are a few samples.

There has probably never been a book collector more fascinating or eccentric than Sir Thomas Phillipps. Phillipps lived in mid-19th century England, and he set out, quite literally, to collect a copy of everything that had ever been printed. He undoubtedly came as close as anyone, at least among private collectors, to accomplishing this goal. Phillipps amassed some 100,000 books and 60,000 manuscripts. He filled every room in his house, having to maneuver through narrow passageways to get around. The obsession put Phillipps in debt, almost bankruptcy, and yet somehow he managed to raise a family in this mess. Amazingly enough, they stood by him. The most thorough work on this strange man and his astounding collection was produced by A.N.L. Munby from 1951-1960, the five-volume Phillipps Studies. It covers the collection, Phillipps personal life, and, finally, the dispersal of his collection. Item 322. Priced at L295 (British pounds, or U.S. equivalent of $513).

Phillipps also had some works privately printed under the name of his Middle Hill Press. Here is one: The Cambridgeshire Visitation, by Henry St. George. This was a 200-year-old genealogy when Phillipps reprinted it in 1840. A rare book, it includes a preface from Phillipps complaining of the high cost of printing and the inconsistent taste of the public. Item 310. L345 (US $600).

After Phillipps died, his massive collection would be put up for auction. It would take almost a century from the first auction in 1886 until the last in 1981, to finally track down and sell all that Phillipps owned. Here is the catalogue from the first auction, Catalogue of the First Portion of the Famous Library of Sir Thomas Phillipps...Including a Complete Set of the Publications Privately Printed by Him at Middle-Hill... There were 3,346 lots offered by the forerunner of Sotheby's, and prices have been written in. Item 366. L95 (US $165).

A most interesting catalogue is the Catalogue of Books in the Library of the House of Commons. In 1830, the legislative body ordered that a catalogue of its collection, begun in 1818, be printed. What makes this catalogue notable is that just four years later, a fire swept through this library and much of what it contained was lost. Item 269. L165 (US $287).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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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