Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2007 Issue

Fine Press Books from Oak Knoll

Oak281

Contemporary Fine Press Books from Oak Knoll.


By Michael Stillman

Catalogue 281 has rolled off the press at Oak Knoll Books and it represents a departure, or perhaps evolution from their typical catalogue. The usual Oak Knoll catalogue contains something in the area of a thousand books, scattered among numerous topics within their "books about books" and bibliography fields. Number 281 contains just 75 items, and they are all within the topic of Contemporary Fine Press Books.

This change is evidently not an aberration, but an evolution in the firm's method of selling books. As noted in the new catalogue, they have been reevaluating "how we can best tell you of our 20,000+ titles...without boring the heck out of you," along with pointing out "we also need to save a forest or two..." The result is a more limited selection described in the catalogue, coupled with instructions on making better use of their website. Here is where we see the evolution of bookselling. Rather than having to read through a thousand listings to find the book you want, the website allows for quick searches and pinpoint targeting of the titles you might like. The "advanced search" not only allows you to select particular titles, but search within specific topics using keywords, publisher, price, language, date and such. Alternatively, you may browse the listings within specific fields. Since this number may be even larger than a typical Oak Knoll catalogue contains (they note that while this catalogue contains 75 fine press books, they have 1,809 in inventory) you can browse by subtopic. So, with "fine press books," you may limit your browsing to those of the 19th, 20th, or 21st century, to bibliography, to U.S., U.K. or Canadian books, to leaf books, to Limited Editions Club books, or other specific areas.

However, Oak Knoll notes that "the roots of our business go back to sending you printed information and we refuse to let that part of our business die." Certainly it would be hard to imagine bookselling without catalogues, "books about books" in their own right. Nevertheless, with over 20,000 titles available, and new inventory being added regularly, it is impossible to ignore the convenience only possible through the technology of online search. So, bookselling evolves, and Oak Knoll is adjusting to the times while still retaining a part of tradition. That's a fair compromise.

This latest catalogue of fine press books contains 75 items, all from different presses. It provides a great overview of the type of material Oak Knoll has to offer. Here are a few samples which should, like the catalogue itself, lead collectors to explore the much wider universe to be found on the Oak Knoll website.

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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