Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2005 Issue

Literature and More from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins2

Estate auction catalogue of Charles Dickens


Here is an item you cannot afford, but we will mention its value just in case you should find a copy in your attic. It is the first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. It has been described as America's literary equivalent to the Declaration of Independence. Its first appearance at auction was in the Rice sale of 1870 when it sold for $2. Today, its monetary value matches its literary worth. Item 43. $150,000.

Item 1 is a very real item for collectors of the surreal. It is Guillaume Apollinaire's Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Drame Surrealiste... Apollinaire coined the term "surrealist" to describe his play, and this was the first printed appearance of the word. This 1918 first edition was inscribed by Apollinaire to his friend and fellow war correspondent Gaston Picard. Apollinaire received a head wound in the First World War, and his weakened state may have lowered his resistance when the great pandemic of 1918 swept around the world. He died in the year this book was published. $7,500.

Here are a couple of items for California collectors. Item 55 is volumes 1-5 (all that were published) of Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine, published 1857-61. Hutchings organized the first tourist party to visit Yosemite, and published this magazine to promote tourism and settlement in the Golden State. It contains some of the earliest images of the then new state, including one of a grizzly bear which was used on the state flag. $3,750. Item 56 is A Natural and Civil History of California by Miguel Venegas, from 1759. This is the first English edition of an account of the virtually unknown west coast of North America. $7,500.

The website for James Cummins Bookseller is www.jamescumminsbookseller.com. The telephone is 212-688-6441.

Rare Book Monthly

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