Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

Autographs and Letters from David Schulson

Schulson37

The latest from David Schulson, with the autograph of Lord Protector


By Michael Stillman

David Schulson Autographs has issued a new catalogue with the succinct, to-the-point title 137. To elaborate on that, Schulson offers a collection of 100 autographed documents, largely personal letters, from European and American notable personalities. There is a concentration of documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries. All types of people are represented, from political to scientific, travelers and writers, and many from the arts. If your interests run to European (including Russian) musical composers and artists, you will definitely want to see this catalogue, as many of the greatest of these names can be found. However, as might be expected from a catalogue that ranges from Dr. Seuss to the Marquis de Sade, just about anything might show up here. So, let's take a look.

It's always reassuring to know that great figures suffered from the same kinds of problems as the rest of us. On November 16, 1939, F. Scott Fitzgerald, of Great Gatsby fame, writes his landlord, Isabel Horton (wife of actor Edward Everett Horton), "Here's the rest of the rent due from October 19th to November 19th. Sorry it's been such a mess..." Fitzgerald had moved to Hollywood at the time to try to make money screenwriting, something he disliked, but his financial situation had become precarious. This letter affirms those difficulties, as he was evidently almost a month late paying his rent. It was only a year later that he suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 44, still living in Hollywood. Item 31. Priced at $3,500.

Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was a great humanitarian, though most people probably would not think so, considering the device named for him is the guillotine. The good doctor was actually against the death penalty, but so long as it was going to be applied, he believed a quick severance of the head would be far less painful than other means of execution then in place. His idea was put into practice during the French Revolution, and as that spiraled out of control, the device got far more use than Dr. Guillotin could have imagined or wished. On April 29, 1799, he wrote to Senator LeMercier, apologizing for being unable to visit because of "the annoyance of being ill myself, with two bleedings, emetics [something which causes vomiting], bladder relievers, all of which are too good reasons for not leaving my house..." Medicine was not very pleasant, nor helpful in those days, but despite the troubles, Guillotin managed to keep his head about him. Item 38. $2,250.

Some product endorsements are more impressive than others, though there's no sign this one was ever used for advertising purposes. Roald Amundsen writes on August 26, 1912, to "Herr Aug. P. Horn" of the company Pommichau of Silkeborg, Denmark, that their clothing was both pleasant and durable. Presumably it was warm as well, for it had been used on the expedition of the ship Fram to the Antarctic, a trip highlighted by Amundsen's being the first to reach the South Pole, just eight months prior to this letter being written. Item 1. $2,750.

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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