Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2008 Issue

Mostly Modern Poetry from Alexander Rare Books

Alex14

Poetry and more from Alexander Rare Books.



By Michael Stillman

Alexander Rare Books has issued their Catalog Fourteen of Literary Firsts and Poetry. While the heading Winter 2008 indicates we may have received this a bit late, winter does last longer in Vermont. Offered are 150 items, and this time, the great majority are from the field of poetry. Even more specifically, the works are primarily modern poetry. However, there are a few exceptions. Here are a few of the pieces offered.

Item 38 is a review copy of the first book publication of two major poets of the twentieth century: Randall Jarrell and John Berryman. Published by New Directions in 1940, it is entitled Five Young American Poets, the others being George Marion O’Donnell, Mary Barnard, and W.R. Moses. Jarrell developed his reputation first more as a critic than poet in the 1940s, using his biting wit. Although he had been writing poetry since the 1930s, it was not until the '60s that he began writing work that earned serious critical acclaim. Unfortunately, he had personal issues that led him to attempt suicide, and in 1965, he was struck and killed by a car, officially ruled an accident but no one can be certain. Berryman similarly achieved his peak in the 1960s, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1964. However, he too suffered from depression, and took his life in 1972, leaping from a bridge. Sometimes despair breeds great art. Priced at $500.

Item 39 is one of 26 lettered copies ("Q") of Berryman's His Thought Made Pockets & The Plane Buckt. This 1958 printing was the first publication or first book printing of ten of the eleven poems within. This copy is signed by Berryman. $2,400.

Not to tarry too long on the subject of poets and personal despair, but item 94 is Suburban Monastery Death Poem by D.A. Levy (or d.a. levy). This is a mimeographed second edition (as was the first) published in 1976, eight years after the first. Levy, who tended to avoid capital letters, would mimeograph his sometimes rambling, counterculture poetry in his hometown of Cleveland. Levy, or levy, had his personal issues too, and in 1968, at the age of 26, he shot himself. $35.

After all of these depressing poetic lives, who better to turn to than Ogden Nash? If Nash was not the traditionally serious poet, he was surely one of the funniest, and his popularity spread well beyond the typical audience for poetry. Item 135 is the 1964 Selected Poems of Stevie Smith, the British writer and poet who had her share of depressing personal issues. All of these poets needed to read more Nash. However, she could also be whimsical, like Nash. Anyway, laid into Smith’s book is a promotional card, Mr. Ogden Nash to Miss Stevie Smith: A Bouquet on her American Publication of Her Selected Poems. It contains the 12-line poem Stevie Smith, which Alexander believes is the first, and possibly only printing of this Nash poem. $75.

Here is something very different: The Works of Lord Byron. This is a five-volume set of the early 19th century baron’s poetry, including his best-known work, the epic poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Along with his writing, Byron was a member of the House of Lords, and seemed constantly involved in various romantic affairs and scandals. This led him to leave England in 1816, never to return. This collection was published in 1823, the year before he died. Item 45. $650.

Alexander Rare Books may reached at 802-476-0838 or alexanderbooks@charter.net Their website is found at www.AlexanderRareBooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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

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