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>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.
  • <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

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