Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2017 Issue

Books and Prints from the Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow Collection Offered by Riverrun Books & Manuscripts

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Books & Prints from the Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow.

Riverrun Books & Manuscripts has issued a catalogue of Books & Prints from the Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow. The catalogue is divided into three sections: The Middle Ages & Renaissance; the Baroque & Rococo Periods; and the Neoclassical, Romantic & Modern Movements. Arthur Vershbow was a Boston area trained engineer who operated a family manufacturing business. He and his wife, Charlotte, were also avid book collectors, Arthur at one time leading the Boston Athenaeum. They were a well-known couple in the book world. Arthur died in 2012 at the age of 90, predeceased by Charlotte. Here are some of the items being offered that were once part of their important collection.

 

We begin with a remarkable book for its time – 1588. The title is Le diverse et artificiose machine..., the author Agostino Ramelli. Ramelli displays devices of the highest technology of the 16th century. Many made use of water power to replace the efforts of humans and horses in running machinery. Others depict fountains, bridges, and cranes. "For industrial enterprises there are shown logging mills, metal-working machines, continuous-bucket conveyors, looms for spinning and weaving, bellows, saws and foundry equipment" (Dibner's Heralds of Science). Notable among the devices illustrated is the book wheel or reading wheel. It enabled open books to be rotated like a Ferris wheel. If you are wondering what the purpose was for such a contraption, think of it as a 16th century information retrieval system, allowing researchers to readily move between multiple very heavy books. It was one of those interesting concepts that Ramelli never actually built. Not only is this a most inventive text, but it is also a beautiful, finely illustrated work. Ramelli had seen some of his inventions crudely printed in pirated works, likely by an associate, so he determined to make this presentation so superior that others would not be able to mimic his work. Additionally, the text is provided in two languages, French and Italian. Item 82. Priced at $52,500.

 

Next we have a book of poems, entitled Poemes, as it is written in French. It was written by the Duke of Orleans, which doesn't tell us a lot as there have been a whole mess of Dukes of Orleans. This was one of the earliest, Charles, the third such Duke, who lived from 1394-1465. His grandfather had reigned as King Charles V, and an absence of direct heirs would eventually put his son on the throne as Louis XII. However, Charles the Duke is known most for poetry, which he wrote in both French and English. There is an explanation for this. Charles was captured by the English in 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt. He was taken to England as a prisoner, and while not locked up in some dingy cell, but instead treated as nobility, he was still not free to leave. It would take 25 years before he was freed to return home. The result was he had lots of time to write poetry, which he did in both his native language and that of his "hosts." This collection of Charles' poems was not published in his lifetime, nor even close to it. It came 500 years later, and it is notable more for the illustrations than the text. The illustrations were created by the noted artist Henry Matisse. Matisse created a manuscript of the poems in his own hand, which he adorned with decorations and portraits in crayon. The book was published in 1950. Item 116. $5,000.

 

This next set is noted as the first modern herbal, Herbarum vivae eicones ad naturae imitationem... Author Otto Brunfels has been called "the first great mind in modern botany." Writing in the first half of the 16th century, he insisted on the most accurate of drawings, requiring they be drawn from real life. The quality of illustrations was ahead of its time. Brunfels had no trouble giving credit where it was due, highly praising artist Hans Weiditz. This copy consists of two volumes bound as one, and as is often the case, includes the first edition of the second volume and the second edition of the first volume. This anomaly is common because a second edition of the first volume was printed specifically to be sold with the later printed second volume. The second volume was printed in 1531, the first in 1532 (the first edition of volume one was published in 1530). Item 11. $40,000.

 

Item 28 is Prima [ et Secunda] pars promptuarii iconum insigniorum à seculo hominum, by Guillaume Rouillé. This is a first Latin edition of a book containing over 800 medallion, woodcut portraits of famous men and women, dating from Adam and Eve to Henry II (of France). One imagines some artist's license must have been used in producing likenesses of those first two notable people. Several artists were used in creating the portraits of kings, queens, popes, and various statesmen. However, it is not so much the book as the provenance that is remarkable here. This copy belonged to, and contains the coat of arms of, King Philip II and Mary I. Philip was King of Spain, along with Portugal, a couple of city-states, and for a while, sort of King of England. Mary Tudor, or Mary I, was Queen of England from 1553-1558. She attempted to restore Catholic hegemony over the land, the faith of her mother, but not of her father, Henry VIII, who broke with the Church. As such, she was appreciated by Catholics, despised by Protestants, who, not unjustly, called her "Bloody Mary." Philip, eleven years her junior, married Mary two days after they met. It was not love at first sight. It was a marriage of convenience. Philip became co-monarch, a king except that his kingly rights would only last so long as they remained married. That ended after Mary died in 1558. Philip offered to marry her half-sister and successor, Elizabeth I, but that was not a likely match with Philip wishing to continue the restoration of Catholicism in England while Elizabeth was intent on reversing course and keeping the nation Protestant. Nonetheless, Philip, who lived and ruled Spain until 1598, remained friendly with England for a number of years, but eventually, conflicts made the two nations enemies. It would be Philip who sent out the Spanish Armada in a badly unsuccessful attempt to take over England in 1588. $70,000.

 

It was the longest running play in London up to its time - 1728. Item 59 is the expanded second edition, with the music printed in the text, for The Beggar's Opera, by John Gay. It was a "ballad opera," satirizing both Italian opera and politicians and other characters of its day. Words were set to popular songs of the time. This ballad opera has reappeared in many forms over the years, even as the style otherwise disappeared. In the twentieth century, it was reconstructed by Bertolt Brecht with new music by Kurt Weill as The Threepenny Opera, the best known song being Mack the Knife. $450.

 

Riverrun Books & Manuscripts may be reached at 914-478-1339 or info@riverrunbookshop.com. Their website is located at www.riverrunbookshop.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.

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