Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2006 Issue

Old English Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

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English Books & Manuscripts from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
has recently published a catalogue of English Books & Manuscripts to 1800. This is a collection varied by topic though consistent by printing location. Those with a focus on English history, from the days when the letter "f" was used for "s," and "y' was often used where we now employ an "i," will enjoy this collection. Some material nonetheless pertains to other lands, and we have even managed to ferret out a few pieces of Americana for those whose focus is on the other side of the pond. Still, this is primarily a very English assortment, and a most fascinating one at that. Here are a few samples.

One "Humphrey Clinker" (pseudonym) provided a guide to protecting oneself from Scotch "rogues," petty criminals of their day. The book is The hidden mystery of the Scots rogues newly brought to light: being a complete discovery of their intrigues all over the nation; with cunning trick they practice to deceive the unwary: with a plain and easy method to avoid or catch them. The circa 1790 book's stated purpose is to reveal the intrigues of these people who go about the country "stealing, cheating, drinking, quarreling, fighting, swearing, extortioning, slandering, and railing against such as will not give them what they ask." They certainly sound like a most unpleasant lot. Item 20. Priced at £700 (British pounds, or approximately $1,287 US dollars).

It seems that even British soldiers were given to bad behavior on occasion too. The case of the Island of Minorca...includes a plea from the natives of this Mediterranean island to the British to control the activities of their troops. The plea notes, "the continual thefts, robberies, rapes and the murders they committed have struck such a pannick among the peasants..." Evidently military discipline was a little short in those days. Item 66, circa 1717. £1,600 (US $2,942).

Here is my favorite title: Holl ddyledswydd dyn a osodwyd ar lawr...Welsh is certainly an interesting language. This is a translation of Richard Allestree's "The whole duty of man." Item 1, published in 1718. £400 (US $735).

Privateers were used by the European powers to do their dirty work on the high seas. Privateers were, in effect, licensed pirates, permitted and encouraged to commit piracy on the ships of a rival land in return for a payment to the state. The rest of the loot went to the privateers, which is why they signed on in the first place. Item 80 is An ordinance and declaration of the Lords and Commons...authorising any of his Majesties good and loyall subjects...to furnish with all manner of warlike provision, and send to sea what ships...they shall thinke fit, to ...seize upon by sea or land, going to assist rebels in Ireland. This is an open invitation to anyone to engage in piracy against any ships assisting rebels in Ireland. The privateers were authorized to seize all goods, money munitions, and anything else they could find, including the ships themselves, and after paying 10% to the crown, were free to keep the remainder for themselves. Item 80, dated October 21, 1642. £950 (US $1,748).

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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