Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2007 Issue

Back to Childhood with Aleph-Bet Books

Aleph80

A Dr. Seuss "nude" on the cover of Aleph-Bet's Catalogue 80.


By Michael Stillman

It's time for a trip down memory lane with the latest catalogue from Aleph-Bet Books, number 84. Titled Children's Books and Illustrated Books, it is filled with stories and characters you will remember from days when life seemed simpler and happier. Of course it wasn't, it just seems that way, but Aleph-Bet has the books to bring us back to our imagined, mythical youth. So open up your imagination and take a look back at the world of yesterday. Do you remember...?

We remember L. Frank Baum for his "Oz" books, but Baum was a prolific writer with much more to his credit. Item 54 is Baum's 1903 book The Enchanted Island of Yew. This copy contains a full-page inscription to one Katherine Elizabeth Hubbard, a young girl whose aunt evidently requested the inscription. Writes Baum, "It's all about a Fairy Prince and the High Ki of Twi, and I am sure it is just as true as any fairy tale you have ever read." Priced at $12,500.

Item 63 is Prince Mudturtle, a 1906 book by Laura Bancroft. A little digging will reveal that Ms. Bancroft is none other than the aforementioned Frank Baum. Laura Bancroft was just one of several pseudonyms he used, along with his own name. This title is the first in the Bancroft/Baum "Twinkle Tales" series. $875. Five other Baum books under the Bancroft name are also offered.

Items 55 and 56 are a pair of Baum alphabet books, published in 1900, the same year the "Wizard of Oz" was first printed. The first is The Army Alphabet. $2,500. The second is The Navy Alphabet. $2,750. These books teach children their ABCs using rhymes based on the military services.

There are many more alphabet books offered. Item 2 is Our Auto ABC. Only wealthier children could have personally related to this work. It was published in 1912, when few people yet owned automobiles. The drawings display vintage-looking cars, ones that still looked more like horseless carriages than what we think of as autos today. $300.

Racial stereotypes were often featured in early children's books. Item 5 is ABC in Dixie. A Plantation Alphabet. Stereotypical characters and dialect rhymes are featured in this circa 1900 book. Item 5. $4,000. However, at least the illustrations are not such offensive black stereotypes as those found in My Honey ABC, another work from around the turn of the century. Not surprisingly, in this book "W" stands for watermelon. Item 7. $1,200.

If this will make Americans feel a little better, Australians were not above such stereotyping either. Item 44 is a 1919 Melbourne contribution, Mia Mia Mites by Muriel Pornett. It is the story of two aborigine children named "Fuzzy Head" and "Woolly Top." No more need be said. $400.

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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