Old English Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
During the coldest of winters, Londoners used to participate in what was known as the "Frost Fair." These took place on the rare occasions when the Thamas River would freeze solid, allowing fairs to take place on its frozen surface. They were held as early as the freeze of 1683-84, while item 34 pertains to what may have been the last, 1813-1814. The title is Frostiana: or a history of the river Thames in a frozen state... This book was printed on a portable press dragged onto the Thames, and recounts this and earlier fairs and severe cold weather, along with a discussion of "the art of skating." £750 (US $1,381).
Item 109 includes the first British printing of the U.S. Constitution. Published in 1787, it is headed Plan of the new constitution for the United States of America, agreed upon in a convention of the states. This copy belonged to Scottish peer Alexander Fraser, and contains some of his interesting marginal notes. For example, when it comes to the election of the House of Representatives, he observes, "It is not said in what manner the representatives are to be chosen, if every person is to have a vote, or if a limitation of property will be introduced." This is probably the only copy of the Constitution bound together with nine pamphlets pertaining to the East India Company. Apparently Fraser's wife was the daughter of a director of that company. £5,500 (US $10,121).
For those with an interest in Elizabethan London, item 102 is A survey of London by John Stow, published in 1598. This book includes a history of the city, a discussion of major landmarks and features such as the London Bridge and Thames River, a description by wards, and mentions of churches, hospitals, even leper houses. For a most complete look at the London in which Shakespeare grew up, this is an excellent resource. £4,500 (US $8,280).
Item 113 is the rather oddly titled A rich store-house, or a treasury for the diseased. Back when it was published in 1650, many people of limited means could not afford to go to the doctor. Sort of like today. The book was meant "for the benefit and comfort of the poorer sort of people that are not of ability to go to the physitians." Among ailments and procedures covered are blood-letting, corns, deafness, stincking breath, lice or nits, and even the plague. The writer, George Wateson, was himself a "physitian." £2,500. (US $4,601).
Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books may be found online at www.shapero.com, or reached by phone at +44 (0)20 7493 0876.