Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2008 Issue

Fifty Recent Acquisitions from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

Shapero50

Fifty fabulous new acquisitions from Bernard J. Shapero.


By Michael Stillman

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books has issued a new catalogue in its "50" series: 50 Recent Acquisitions. This one covers "literature, medicine, colour plate, natural history, cartography, economics, photography." Shapero has issued a series of spectacular illustrated catalogues, each one focused on just fifty very special items. While others have been topical, this one covers a wide variety of types of books. Here are a few samples from this latest fifty.

Item 14 was a massive undertaking which, when completed, represented one of the greatest statements of liberty ever created. It is the Encyclopedie of Denis Diderot. It started as a more limited project, but Diderot determined to expand it to not only a collection of all of the knowledge of the world, but a book that would provide the thoughts of the great writers and thinkers of the time. It came to be a statement of such values as freedom, democracy, and religious tolerance, ideas not practiced in very many places at the time. It even found itself banned at one point, but Shapero notes that it is "probably the most important work of enlightenment thought." It was published in 35 volumes from 1751-1780. Priced at £55,000 (British pounds, or U.S. equivalent of approximately ($109,241).

Item 9 offers another large collection: The Writings, an anthology of the writings of Mark Twain, at least as of 1899. It was published in London (as were some of Twain's first editions) in this Edition de luxe, a decorative 25-volume set in a limited edition of 620 copies. It was signed by the author as "SL Clemens," with a parenthetical "Mark Twain." £7,250 (US $14,403).

Here is one more huge collection, but of a different sort. Item 48 is a collection of words. It is an 1828 first edition of An American dictionary of the English language, by Noah Webster. Webster wrote the 70,000 entries himself, adopting usage and spellings common to America, rather than relying on Johnson's dictionary. It was an immediate success and the updated editions of Webster's are still the standard today. Item 48. £7,500 (US $14,897).

From collections of words and thoughts we go to a collection of maps. Item 6 is a six-volume set of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum... a Latin edition of the great atlas published in Amsterdam by Joan Blaeu. This is a massive compendium of maps published 1648-1655. It features hand coloring and 400 engraved maps. £150,000 (US $297,953).

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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