Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2006 Issue

The Strange and Unusual from Garrett Scott

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More of the unusual from Garrett Soctt


By Michael Stillman

Garrett Scott, Bookseller
, seems to specialize in the odd and unusual. That's not to say every book in his 17th catalogue, Spring Miscellany, is strange. It is just that there are many quite odd works to be found here. Strange science, unusual theology, medical advice you would not want to follow, and the like can be found, along with some sensible treatises thrown in to bring us back to the path of reason. Scott's catalogues are always entertaining and if you would like to own some of these amazing works, the good news is there is little here that will break the bank. Here are some of the books you will find inside.

This is a most odd book from one of America's more respected observers and writers. The title is Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life... by George Catlin. This is an 1870 fourth edition of a work originally published under the title "The Breath of Life." Catlin was obsessed with the importance of breathing through the nose, rather than the mouth. Certainly, there are benefits in terms of filtering germs to this habit, but he does get a bit carried away. Catlin had undertaken much observation of the American Indians while they were still relatively untouched by western civilization, and concluded that such maladies of civilization as hunch-backs, paupers, and idiocy could be attributed to breathing through the mouth. "And if I were to endeavor to bequeath to posterity the most important Motto which human language can convey," Catlin concludes, "it should be in three words -- Shut-your-mouth." This bequest has been forgotten, but Catlin is remembered for leaving us his "North American Indian Portfolio," a collection of Indian drawings that would cost you more than everything in this catalogue combined. Item 21, $100.

Item 108 is a spirited defense of the drinking of alcohol in the army by none other than the Secretary of War. Secretary Peter Porter's defense is contained in Spirituous Liquors to the Army. Letter from the Secretary of War in Reply to a Resolution of the House of Representatives Inquiring What Beneficial Effects, if any, Have Arisen, or Are Likely to Arise, from the Daily Use of Spirituous Liquors by the Army... Seems that in 1829 a prudish House of Representatives was questioning the Army practice of distributing liquor to its soldiers. Porter responds that the use of liquor is so widespread in the country "that there is not, it is believed, one man in four, among the laboring classes, who does not drink, daily, more than one gill; and it is from these classes that our Army is recruited." He goes on to say that depriving these people of the drink to which they are accustomed would impair their health and lead them to consume amounts beyond the modest quantities distributed by the government. I wonder when this entirely rational practice was discontinued? $50.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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