Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2008 Issue

101 Rare Books from Samuel Gedge Ltd.

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Catalogue III from Samuel Gedge Ltd.


By Michael Stillman

Samuel Gedge Ltd.
Has just issued their Catalogue III of rare books. There are a great many London imprints, as befitting a British bookseller, but then again there are items from as far off as Calcutta, Singapore and Macao. This is an interesting collection, covering many topics, but with a common thread of items being both rare and antiquarian. Here are a few of the 101 pieces offered.

Item 1 is a notable psalm book, Annotations upon the book of Psalms, by Henry Ainsworth. Ainsworth was associated with an English separatist church in Amsterdam in the early 17th century. Not surprisingly, his book was favored by pilgrim leaders who sailed to Plymouth. It was a copy of the 1617 second edition of this book, similar to the one here offered, that they took along on the Mayflower. Considering the ship's size, anything taken on the Mayflower must have been very well liked by the pilgrims. Priced at £3,600 (British pounds, or approximately $7,304 US dollars).

Medicine in the 17th century was certainly odd by today's standards, but this is one of the stranger of books of cures: A Late Discourse Made in a Solemne Assembly of Nobles and Learned Men at Montpellier in France; Touching the Cure of Wounds by the Powder of Sympathy... by Sir Kenelm Digby. While I question the effectiveness of his cure, it certainly led the way in pain-free medicine. Rather than treating the wound, Digby favored treating the instrument that caused the wound. It was also reported by a friend that a wound was healed by placing the bloody bandage in the proper solution. While this may sound like quackery today, medicine was quite primitive in 1658. Digby was a respected scientist of the day, a founder of the Royal Society. Item 29. £2,750 (US $5,580.

There were some amazing relics at the cathedral of San Ciarico in Ancona, Italy, around 1700. Item 6 is a broadsheet listing some of those relics: a piece of wood from the True Cross, the metal tip of the Holy Lance, and a thorn from the Crown of Thorns. Such relics are not as rare as might be expected, many churches having them, though some question their authenticity (Calvin once remarked that there were enough fragments of the True Cross to build a ship). The cathedral's inventory also included a finger of St. Thomas the Apostle and a shoulder of Rocco the Confessor. I must confess I don't know Rocco the Confessor. Was he from New Jersey? £225 (US $456).

In the days before people saw space aliens, they saw frightening ghosts. Item 7 is Fearfull apparitions or the strangest visions that ever hath been heard of. It is a spirit that constantly every night haunts one Mr. Young's yard... This ghost showed up regularly at 2:00 in the morning on Lombard Street in London, haunting poor Mr. Young. He was apparently quite noisy, clattering chains and howling like a dog, though at other times whistling and playing music (probably when he was in a better mood). The ghost appeared as an 18-foot tall black man, "with long blacke shagged haire, his eyes as bigge as two ordinary pewter dishes flaming like fire..." Presumably he has moved on, as this book was published in 1647. £550 (US $1,116).

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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