Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2008 Issue

European Books About Books from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books

Knuf2008

Old and Rare Books from Frits Knuf.


By Michael Stillman

Recently arrived is Old and Rare Books 2008 from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books of Paris. Knuf is a specialist in the "books about books" field, with a focus on European and English works. This latest presentation includes catalogues of many book collections, in libraries, private collections, or offered for sale at auction or by booksellers. There are books on the history of books, type, libraries, banned books, and more, including a few that don't fit the mold quite so neatly, such as a classic instruction manual on swimming. This is a great catalogue for those who collect in the book arts, especially with a European orientation. Here are a few examples of what is offered.

Where better to start than with the giant of all book catalogues, A Catalogue of Books, issued by London bookseller Henry G. Bohn in 1841. Commonly known as the "Guinea Catalogue," Knuf describes it as "the biggest catalogue ever issued by a bookseller." While we cannot attest to this, I have certainly never seen anything else that comes close to the monumental 23,208 books listed for sale in this catalogue. They are listed alphabetically under 27 headings, each book fully described. Priced at €750 (Euros, or approximate US equivalent of $1,077).

Item 21 represents a major breakthrough in understanding the language, and with that the history, of ancient Egypt. The work is Precis du Systeme Hieroglyphique des Anciens Egyptiens by Jean Francois Champollion. Champollion was a master of languages, including Coptic, an old Egyptian tongue still understood, unlike ancient Egyptian. Using his knowledge, he was able to decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs from the Rosetta Stone, which was written in Egyptian, Coptic and Greek. Once he mastered the complex language, where glyphs could either represent concepts or sounds, he could translate the meaning of other ancient writings, indecipherable at the time. This first edition of his book was published in 1824. €6,000 (US $8,622).

Sometimes national pride can get in the way of accuracy. Item 34 is one such example, a children's book by Petrus Dusseau, published in Amsterdam in 1839. The title is De Boekdrukkunst en Derzelver Uitvinder Laurens Jansz. Koster. It informs children that it was Koster, of Haarlem, who invented printing, not Gutenberg. Not many believe that any more, but it was a hard claim for the Dutch to surrender. Supposedly, Gutenberg's partner had earlier worked with Koster and stole his typesetting equipment, but no evidence has ever been found to establish this claim. In fact, it was not made until over a century after Gutenberg began rolling his Bibles off the press. €850 (US $1,222).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions