Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2006 Issue

50 Fine Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

50

50 Fine Books from Bernard J. Shapero.


by Michael Stillman

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
has issued another one of its magnificent fifty item catalogues. A little while back, we looked at a catalogue of fifty superlative maps and atlases. This month, we review their catalogue of 50 Fine Books. In this case, "fine" is an understatement.

This is not an easy catalogue to describe. The focus is on illustrated books. Illustrated books, naturally, need to be seen to be appreciated. Words just won't do them justice. While "illustrations" is the technically correct word, we are really looking at works of art. Indeed, many of the illustrations were done by artists, and after the books were printed, those same illustrations were often colored by hand, another artistic skill. While the drawings may have at one time been intended more to inform, they are today better appreciated for their beauty. These are among the fifty most beautiful illustrated books you will find.

Here is one note of caution for collectors. These are not inexpensive books. The pricing may be reasonable for what is offered, but this is not material the average collector can readily afford. It is intended for those with the resources to collect at the highest level. That said, anyone can certainly appreciate this wonderful catalogue, and Shapero also offers many other books that are also of great interest, but are within the reach of more typical collecting budgets. Here are few items from this fabulous fifty.

Item 45 is a manuscript Royal Deed from Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Nicholas I ruled Russia from 1825-1855, and by most accounts, was not a particularly pleasant ruler. Whereas his brother and predecessor, Alexander I, had shown some interest in reform, Nicholas was old-style conservative and authoritarian. He similarly supported the status quo in Europe against reform movements, including a harsh suppression of rebellion in Poland, reminiscent of those of the Russian Communists many generations later. Nicholas died during the Crimean War, a war he started and which became a major Russian defeat. However, for all the ugliness of Nicholas' rule, his Royal Deed is a thing of beauty. This deed, signed by Nicholas I, granted a coat of arms and title as a count to General Aleksei Nikitin in 1851. Nikitin had served his country during the Napoleonic Wars and would have been an older man with a long, distinguished record at the time. Priced at £65,000 (British pounds, or approximate U.S. equivalent of $122,862).

America has its Audubon, Britain its John Gould. Gould's The Birds of Great Britain is an ornithological masterpiece akin to Audubon's though somewhat later in time. This is a five-volume set, published from 1862-1873. While the text is informative, it is the illustrations that make this book remarkable. Item 19. £60,000 (US $113,413).

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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