Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2008 Issue

Signed Books, Letters and Documents from James Pepper Rare Books

Pepper169

James Pepper features signed items in his latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

From James Pepper Rare Books comes a new collection: Catalogue 169. 143 Signed Books -- Autograph Letters and Documents. Pepper's catalogues generally feature many literary first editions and items related to theater and film, and this is no exception. However, this one is unusual in that all of the items are signed, including many with letters or inscriptions. Often we get to see a few words from the writers that were not intended for publication. This is a catalogue filled with familiar works and names, great additions to a collection focused on individual writers and performers. Here are a few of those 143 books and documents.

Item 25 is a most interesting and important letter between two major, though very different, writers. It is a typed, signed ("G.B.S.") 1922 letter from George Bernard Shaw to T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence privately printed eight copies of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which he sent out to some closest friends for comment. He was unsure whether it should be substantially revised or even whether it should be saved at all. In his response, Shaw urges "patience" in making a decision, while admitting he had not yet read the entire book. Shaw notes he has "sampled" it, but had not had a chance to completely read the work as his wife has "seized" it to read herself. From what he has read, Shaw states, "obviously there are some things in it that you cannot publish," but he is adamant in calling for its preservations. Writes Shaw, "Destruction being out of the question: If I thought you capable of that I should take the book to London, burn down my house here, and tell you that the book had perished in the flames." As for the book's length, Shaw observes, "I read the Bible in my youth straight through from Genesis to the Epistles; and I daresay I shall survive your Seven Pillars." However, he notes that an abridgement will be needed for general circulation. Shaw would later write to Prime Minister Baldwin (presumably after completing the book) that the work was a "masterpiece." Letter priced at $25,000.

Item 43 is another letter, this one from physicist/genius Albert Einstein to his son, Hans Albert. The date was October 27, 1938, the Einsteins having already escaped Germany and Nazi persecution, and with war now looming on the horizon. Along with comments on family matters, the great scientist points out, "...it is lucky that you're here now and no longer camped on the volcano -- especially given that you're afflicted with the name Einstein which is detested in Germany." $11,000.

Item 124 is the Deluxe Film Edition of Frau Im Mond ("Woman in the Moon," which would later be known in English as Rocket to the Moon). The book was written by Thea Von Harbou, while the screenplay for the film was prepared by Director Fritz Lang, her husband. The two cooperated on films from 1922-1933, including the notable Metropolis. This film edition was produced in a limited run of 100 copies for the film's premier. It is signed by both Lang and Von Harbou. The two created many works of science fiction, but soon the events which tore Einstein from his homeland would rip this partnership apart. Von Harbou was attracted to the Nazi cause; Lang was horrified by it. They divorced in 1933, and Lang fled the country the following year. Von Harbou would fade into obscurity after the fall of Germany, while Lang would have a continuing illustrious career in America. $12,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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