Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2007 Issue

Children's Books from Aleph-Bet

Aleph85

Catalogue 85 of Children's Books from Aleph-Bet Books.


By Michael Stillman

Aleph-Bet Books
recently issued their Catalogue 85 of Children's Books and Illustrated Books. Offered are 555 books for the young at heart, each represented by a description and illustration. This may be a catalogue filled with fantastic fiction, but it is also an insightful look at history. Nothing displays our values and beliefs quite like what we teach our children. What we taught them in years past is revealing, at times reassuring, at times frightening. On one side, there's The Child's Anti-Slavery Book from 1859, an attempt to humanize America's most unfortunate people, while on the other side there are all too many versions of the Ten Little N…s, a work repeatedly published, not only in America, but overseas as well. It is not that hard to see where certain attitudes and prejudices developed when we see what we were teaching our children. Here are some more selections from this latest Aleph-Bet catalogue.

An unusual, positive view of America's natives was presented in The Indian Chief and the Little White Boy. It is a story of a white boy from New York whose parents place him under the care of an Indian Chief. While Aleph-Bet notes that some portrayals are stereotypical, the book does present Indians as human. At the time of its publication, 1855, Indians were more likely to be described as savages. Item 296. $750.

A very different type of image can be found in the 1909 German book Der Kleine Stapelmatz. This book depicts a stereotypical Jewish man who abuses little children. It is no wonder these children might grow up to be susceptible to Nazi propaganda a few years later. Item 301. $2,250.

And why are black people always depicted eating watermelon? Do not white people, or those of other colors, eat watermelon too? I can't figure this one out, but here is the offensive Kinky Kids, a story where Little Kinky Wooltop falls for Melinda as she sits atop a watermelon. Maybe we should just let our kids watch television after all. Item 88, from 1908. $600.

Item 31 is an oddly named book -- Paraplyernes Opror (the Umbrellas' Revolt). I had no idea umbrellas were so revolutionary, but perhaps they resent being kicked out in the rain. $200. If that isn't strange enough, there's Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans. Aleph-Bet describes the plot as, "Freddy the Pig goes to jail as a traitor in order to let the spies steal the false flying saucer plans." Item 93. $350.

For those who collect cartoons, there is Walt Disney's Donald Duck. This 1935 printing was the first book devoted to this conniving fowl. His beak was longer and more pointed than it became in later years, but he's still dressed in his trademark sailor's suit. Item 200. $500. And then there is Happiness Is A Warm Puppy, the first book by Peanuts' creator Charles Schultz. This first edition, published in 1962, contains an inscription from Schultz along with an ink drawing of Snoopy. Item 458. $1,350.

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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