Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2008 Issue

Mystery, Film and Literature from James Pepper Rare Books

Pepper173

Catalogue 173 from James Pepper Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

James Pepper Rare Books has issued Catalogue 173, a new collection of books, manuscripts and ephemera focused on literary first editions, mystery, and items related to the stage and screen. American culture from the past century is on display, from the great books and films, writers and actors, to the not-so great names who also have had their place on center stage for a brief time. This may not be a catalogue of Lincoln and Washington, but it is a catalogue of Americana that will bring back memories, recent and distant, to all who inhabit this land. Here are a few of these items.

Who could better represent American culture of the last quarter of the 20th century, the good, bad and strange, than one of its biggest names, Michael Jackson? From child prodigy to huge star to certified weirdo, it's doubtful anyone else received as much press in his era than Jackson. Item 54 is Michael Jackson - Unauthorized, a 1994 biography by Christopher Andersen. This copy is signed and inscribed, presumably with an ungloved hand, by its subject. It is inscribed "To Holly," to which Jackson has added a heart, peace sign, and a self-portrait drawing in ink. Priced at $1,500.

Item 57 comes from the library of another American cultural icon of the second half of the 20th century, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The book is Pueblo - Mountain, Village, Dance, by Vincent Scully (the art historian, not the Dodgers broadcaster). It sounds like the sort of book she would have found interesting. This copy bears the bookplate "The Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis" from the Sotheby's sale of 1996. $400.

Item 129 is a strange, but most amusing letter from Orson Welles to author Carl Carmer, best known for the autobiographical Stars Fell on Alabama. Carmer had mistaken Welles for a publisher named "Wells," which led Welles to tell a tale about his Godfather and source of his middle name ("Orson" was his middle name), amazingly enough an unrelated man named Orson Wells. He concludes the story with, "The point is I have... and Godfather Orson lack[s] - a little "e" after the first two "L's". It's a pity, too. I should have loved an interview with the author of "Stars Fell On Alabama" and "Listen for a Lonesome Drum." I am, - regrettably - Orson WELLES." $1,850.

Item 78 is a draft letter from a great funnyman, but it is not at all humorous. Groucho Marx had been given a script for a play, which he evidently expected would be of a more serious nature. He wanted a role playing someone other than Groucho Marx. Apparently, it was instead written to Groucho's usual character. Responds Marx, "I hope this isn't too much of a shock, but the play is a terrible disappointment to me. Each time I read it I liked it less." He goes on to say the play is "full of artificial situations that I am sure no audience would swallow. There is hardly a genuine character in the play..." Despite his distaste for the play, he concludes "it should be easy to cast," and recommends Sam Jaffy, Sam Levine, or Monty Wooley for his role. However, "Personally, I don't want to be in it." The typed draft of this letter contains Groucho's hand-written annotations. $450.

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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