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>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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