European Classics from Antiquariatt Forum
By Michael Stillman
The Antiquariaat Forum recently printed a "short title list" of books to coincide with their participation in the New York Antiquarian Book Fair a week ago. The Antiquariaat Forum is based in the Netherlands, and their stock reflects this European location. However, they specialize in some of the very highest grade of material, and collectors at this level generally know no borders. They have numerous Dutch books to sell, and many others from Europe, including some in the way of European Americana. This no doubt has brought them interested collectors in New York as it does in Amsterdam. Here are a few samples of the items the Antiquariaat Forum is offering.
Most people don't collect geometry books, but this one is special. Item 29 is De sectionibus conicis. Tractatus geometricus, by Hugh Hamilton. Hamilton was a learned professor at the University of Dublin, and this book, intended for university students, included some new geometric theorems. However, what makes this copy notable is that it came from the library of French King Louis XV. Louis XV ascended to the throne at the age of 5 and reigned for 59 years. He is best remembered for supposedly saying, "Apres moi le deluge" - After me, the deluge. If so, he was right, as deterioration within the monarchy which began under his rule would play out 18 years later when his successor was overthrown and eventually beheaded. This book harks back to better times for the monarchy. Priced at $16,520.
George Vancouver undertook one of the most important explorations of the Pacific coast of North America from 1791-94. He sailed on behalf of the British who were jockeying for control of the area with the Spanish. Along with cordially meeting the Spanish, Vancouver explored the area, and determined that there was no northwest passage, at least not at the lower latitudes then expected. He returned to England by heading west, making his journey a circumnavigation. Vancouver died only a few years after his return, but he was able to almost complete his report, which is offered as item 58. This is the French translation, so it is titled Voyage de decouvertes, a l'ocean Pacifique du Nord, et autour de monde. That's just French for "Voyage of discovery to the North Pacific ocean and around the world." Vancouver, of course, is familiar today for two cities and an island which were named for him. $13,200.
Item 8 is a 1799 work on succulents, Plantarum succulentarum historia, by A.P. de Candolle. This is one of 100 large paper copies of this French botanical work. It is made all the more notable by being the first work illustrated by Pierre-Joseph Redoute. Redoute was a great illustrator of flowers, his most notable creations being his roses. Posters of his roses are still popular items today. He lived an amazing life. Redoute served as court illustrator to Marie Antoinette, but when the French Revolution came along and she and so many others lost their heads, he managed to keep his. He moved on to be an artist at the Museum of Natural History, and after Napoleon came to power, he worked for Empress Josephine. He survived the end of that era as well, continuing to work freely after the Restoration and into the reign of Louis-Philippe. Redoute was a survivor as well as an artist. $35,785.