Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2008 Issue

Reference Books on Incunabula and Early Books from Frits Knuf

Knuf214

Reference works on incunabula from Frits Knuf.



By Michael Stillman

Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books has issued a catalogue of Reference Books on Incunabula and Early Printed Books. Those who collect, sell, or are interested in the earliest of printed books will find much in the way of useful reference here. There are books about early printing, biographies of Gutenberg and the early printers, bibliographies, and numerous bookseller and auction catalogues that featured incunables and other early works. There are also several books on both sides of the who-invented-printing controversy, those favoring the rightful claimant, Johan Gutenberg, and those supporting the Dutch pretender, Laurens Jansz Coster, a popular alternative in the 19th century. While Knuf is located in France, you will find the French, German, English and Dutch languages well represented in these pages. Bookseller and auction house catalogues from the Continent, British Isles, and America are plentiful. Here are a few samples of the 362 items being offered.

Item 239 provides an excellent resource to a large collection of incunabula, A Catalogue of the Fifteenth Century Printed Books in the University Library of Cambridge, published in 1954. This catalogue includes over 4,250 items the library held, and notes where the best published descriptions of each item may be found, correcting or supplementing them where necessary, while providing descriptions for 100 items not adequately described elsewhere. This catalogue also provides provenance and information about the particular copy at the Cambridge Library as well as obscure information concerning the library. Priced at €385 (or approximately $611 in US dollars).

Item 93 is a most interesting auction catalogue from the firm of Gilhofer and Ranschburg of Lucerne, issued in 1932. It is headed, Versteigerung 14/15 Juni 1932: Bibliotheken der Russischen Zaren in Zarskoje-Selo... It was an auction of treasures taken from the Russian Imperial Library at Tsarkoye-Selo (a residence of the Russian Tsars) along with books owned by two notable European collectors. Stalin had ordered these items sold, although he undoubtedly would have done better had he ordered the sale before the stock market crash (that's what you get for not being a good capitalist). Not surprisingly, the Tsars owned some very valuable early printed material as well as illuminated manuscripts. The catalogue includes estimates. €250 (US $397).

Here is an item you may not want to use as a reference, though it probably makes an interesting read: Gutenberg Inventeur De L'Imprimerie. Author Alphonse de Lamartine did get the inventor of printing right, but the rest of his story may not be so accurate. This item is a reprint of what was supposed to be part of an encyclopedic publication, but Knuf, quoting Bigmore and Wyman, notes of the book, "It has no historical value, but treats the matter in a romantic style..." Item 195. €100 ($159).

Coster may not have invented printing, but he still managed to get a musical play written about him: Lourens Jansz Coster of De Utvinding Der Boekdrukkunst, Historisch Drama Met Zang... This 1857 play by J.K. de Regt introduces various members of the Coster household to the public, even the housekeeper, along with Johan Fust and Johan Gutenberg. Fust had worked for Coster and later became associated with Gutenberg, leading to the theory that he had stolen printing equipment invented by Coster and given it to Gutenberg. However, there is scant evidence to support such a theory, which was not even raised until a century after Gutenberg's death. Item 267. €150 ($238).

Item 154 is a reference to early Polish works found in American libraries: Early and Rare Polonica of the 15th-17th Centuries in American Libraries. Author Janina Hoskins had located 1,231 entries in this 1973 bibliographic work, including both works printed in Poland and works printed elsewhere but pertaining to Poland. €75 ($119).

Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books may be reached at 0033 (0) 254 722 656 or info@fritsknuf.com. The website is www.fritsknuf.com.

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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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