Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2008 Issue

A Late Spring from Elysium Books

Elysiumsp08

The latest catalogue from Elysium Books.


By Michael Stillman

We may have received this catalogue a bit late, since it is entitled Spring 2008, but the year is right, if not the season. It comes from Elysium Books of North Pomfret, Vermont, and perhaps summer never goes that far north, making it still spring. This catalogue contains books primarily of gay interest. There are books by homosexual authors or about issues that affected the community. Most go back to the first half of the 20th century and farther, when tolerance of differences was perhaps somewhat less than it is today. Here are a few of the books that return to a time when writing about these issues was undoubtedly more difficult than it is today.

All communities have their good people and their bad, sometimes both rolled into one. Most people are just typical, but they don't make as good stories, so this book is about a man who started good but apparently turned very, very bad. Gilles de Rais was a French nobleman of the 15th century who inherited great wealth (much of which he squandered away). He served the French as a heroic associate of Joan of Arc. Normally, that would have been enough to make him an enduring hero to his countrymen, but what he did later reversed his standing. He had uncontrolled and diverse sexual predilections that led him to kill what has been estimated at anywhere from 150 to 800 children, mostly boys. It seems hard to imagine he could have gotten away with quite that much killing, and author Aleister Crowley was dubious of the whole matter. Gilles confession was reportedly elicited through the threat of torture, though there were also many witnesses against him. Crowley, an occultist and bisexual himself, saw Gilles' dabbling with black magic the reason for his unpopularity. Whatever the reason, Gilles was tried by both ecclesiastic and secular courts, and while his excommunication by the former was forgiven, his death sentence by the latter was not. He was hanged. In 1930, Crowley was invited to speak before the Oxford University Poetry Society about Gilles. However, at the last minute, the invitation was withdrawn. The University's Catholic chaplain exerted pressure to cancel the invite. Crowley knew exactly how to respond. He followed through on a threat to publish his lecture and hand out copies at Oxford. It undoubtedly reached more people this way than a simple talk ever would have. Item 65 is Crowley's The Banned Lecture Gilles de Rais to have been delivered before the Oxford University Poetry Society by Aleister Crowley on the evening of February 3rd, 1930... Priced at $425.

Item 58 is what Elysium refers to as, "In our opinion, [Jean] Cocteau's greatest illustrated work, consisting of thirty-one self-portraits, created while he was undergoing a disintoxication program for his addiction to opium." He spent hours looking into a mirror, coming to grips with his addiction and, perhaps, mourning the loss of young poet Raymond Raguet, to whom he was close (however, Cocteau denied that this was a cause of his addiction). The book, published in 1925, is Le Mystere de Jean l'Oiseleur, and one of those portraits can be seen on the cover of this catalogue (click the thumbnail image above to see). $3,500.

Sometimes those that are victims of persecution can be driven together, which explains this odd book, Despised and Rejected, by A.T. Fitzroy. Published during the First World War (1917), it likens the treatment of homosexuals to that of conscientious objectors during the war. Neither group was accepted by much of society. Item 96. $1,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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>

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