Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2008 Issue

Fine Press and Poetry from Alexander Rare Books

Alexander15

Fine Press and Poetry from Alexander Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

Alexander Rare Books has issued a new catalogue for the fall, aptly named Fall Catalog - Fine Press and Poetry. That title, brief as it is, describes what is offered very well. What we can add is this is primarily 20th century material, and most of it is quite scarce. The quantities originally printed often assured that these works would be scarce in the years ahead. However, rare does not always equal expensive, as most of these items are very reasonably priced. Here are a few.

Item 36 is a copy of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, as published in 1930 by the press of Harrison of Paris. This was the fine press started up in Paris by American expatriate Monroe Wheeler with Barbara Harrison. Offered is number 397 of 475 copies printed. Harrison of Paris works are uncommon, there being only 14 of them. The first 13 were published in Paris, with the final item being published after the firm moved to New York. Operations ceased in 1934. The following year, Wheeler joined the staff of the Museum of Modern Art, where he was in charge of publications and exhibitions for over 25 years. Priced at $100.

Walter Van Tilburg Clark is best known for his 1940 novel The Oxbow Incident. It is a western tale of misplaced frontier justice at the end of a rope. In 1943, it was translated to film starring Henry Fonda. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture that year. Clark went on to write a couple more novels and numerous short stories. However, many years earlier, 1932 to be exact, Clark published his only book of poetry. That work, Ten Women in Gale's House, is offered as item 62. $150.

While many of the works in this catalogue are somewhat obscure, that is not the case with item 79. This is Mountain Interval, published in 1916, and written by Robert Frost. This collection contains some of Frost's best-known works, including The Road Not Taken. Offered is a copy of the uncorrected first state of this book (a total of 4,000 copies were printed including the corrected second state). Frost has inscribed the copy to Mary Cadwalader Jones. Jones was a close friend of Henry James, sister-in-law of writer Edith Wharton, and an author in her own right. $3,000.

Item 47 is a repulsive copy of a repulsive book. The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings was the first book of Djuna Barnes, originally published in 1915. Its risqué themes might have been deemed inappropriate for the times were they not sufficiently vague to be difficult to understand. This wasn't really a book, more a small chapbook with its eight poems and five drawings. Barnes later in life wanted nothing to do with this early effort, but as her reputation grew, so did interest in this odd work. Offered is the 1948 pirated reprinting of the original she was helpless to stop (the original had not been copyrighted). This is hardly a fine press printing job, but it sufficed to put Barnes' words and drawings on paper. $35.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions