Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2006 Issue

Rare Books and Ephemera from Ian Brabner

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Ian Brabner offers a wide variety of material.


By Michael Stillman

This is our first catalogue review for Ian Brabner, Bookseller. Brabner is an ABAA-ILAB bookseller from Wilmington, Delaware, who has been selling books since 1995. His specialty is antiquarian and rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera. In other words, just about anything in the field of collectible books and related material can show up in an Ian Brabner catalogue. Here are a few of the items we found in his Occasional List 3, but we caution that it is hard to categorize Brabner's offerings from a few samples as the material he sells covers a very wide spectrum.

Item 55 is Evan Allen Bartlett's story of a not very nice man, Love Murders of Harry F. Powers. Beware Such Bluebeards. Actually, there wasn't much love displayed by Mr. Powers, except for money. "Bluebeard" is a term used for men who marry women for their money, and then dispose of them in the most unpleasant of ways. He attracted women by sending appeals to "lonely hearts club" publications, snaring lonely and trusting women into his web of false romance. Powers was no great catch. Time Magazine described him at the time as "small, pudgy, pig-eyed Harry F. Powers." I will admit that I don't always understand women, but that doesn't exactly sound like a spectacular catch to me. Nonetheless, he did entice at least two women into marrying him, and there was speculation that there could have been dozens more (unlikely). He was eventually convicted of killing Mrs. Dorothy Pressler Lemke, described by Time as a "matronly divorced nurse." Probably the key evidence which swayed the jury against Mr. Powers was the fact that Mrs. Lemke, along with another woman and her three children, were found buried next to his garage. Evidently Powers was not able to come up with a good enough explanation for that one. Supposedly, he enjoyed killing them. The jury convicted, and according to a contemporary newspaper, the "West Virginia Bluebeard's" life "snapped away" (he was hanged) on March 18, 1932. Bartlett's scarce account is priced at $250.

It's hard not to look at a Tourists' Guide to New Orleans a little differently than we would have, say, a year ago. This is a look at the city in 1902, complete with photographs, map and places to visit. See the photo on the front cover of this catalogue. So much has changed in the intervening century, especially the past year. Item 59. $85.

Item 24 is a colored lithograph of Congressman and Major General Nathaniel Prentiss Banks, circa 1861. Banks led a long and varied political career, interspersed with a very mediocre military career, which is memorialized in this picture of Banks, hand on his sword. He was first elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1849 on his eighth try. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat and Free Soiler in 1852, a Know Nothing in 1854, and a Republican in 1856. In 1856, after a long battle, he was elected Speaker of the House, the first Republican to achieve a national office. In that role, he supported anti-slavery positions. In 1858, he was elected Governor of Massachusetts, and it was his ability to raise volunteers and financial support for the Civil War in that state that led President Lincoln to appoint this nonmilitary man Major General. This part of his career was not marked by success.

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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