Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2008 Issue

Objects of Obscure Desire from ReadInk

Readink1

The first catalogue from ReadInk of Los Angeles.


By Michael Stillman

We don't often receive a Catalog Number 1, but here is the first from Los Angeles bookseller ReadInk. ReadInk has been in business for over a decade, and proprietor Howard Prouty says that this catalogue has been a dream for a long time. He notes that number 2 is already being planned, but for now we will focus on number one. The title is Objects of Obscure Desire, which describes the catalogue well while itself being obscure. What is in here?

These are mostly works of popular culture. Some might think that appellation dismissive, but it is nothing of the sort. These are the books regular people were reading and consulting, maybe you, more likely your parents or grandparents. The concentration is in works published during the second quarter of the 20th century, although the third quarter is well represented too. These books are fascinating looks at American culture, from the depths of the Depression to the optimistic post-war years.

ReadInk has broken the catalogue into many subjects. Among them are mystery, movies, various types of fiction, African Americana, New York, the West, newspapers, working during the Depression, boxing, and the WPA American Guides. Here are a few samples of the fun that is in store.

James J. Braddock (the "J" incongruously stood for "Walter") was one of those forgotten Pre-Joe Louis 1930s heavyweight champions. He was one of five in a row to win the championship, only to lose it in his first title defense. Braddock can be forgiven because his loss came to Louis, who would hold the title for over a decade. Braddock was reintroduced to celebrity status in 2005 through the film biography of his career, Cinderella Man, with Russell Crowe playing Braddock. The reason for a film about Braddock was his remarkable comeback. After a fast start during the 1920s, injuries to his hand sent the fighter into a tailspin. Over the next few years he lost twice as many fights as he won, and spent much of the time working on the docks to make a living. He then managed something of a comeback, but was still a 10-1 underdog when he stepped into the ring with champion Max Baer in 1935. The journeyman was expected to be an easy target for the champion, but Braddock kept coming at Baer until he won the decision. It is still one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. Offered is a copy of Relief to Royalty: The Story of James J. Braddock, World's Heavyweight Champion, by Lud (pseudonym for Ludwig Shabazian). Published in 1936, this biography, like the movie, only takes us through Braddock's fight with Baer. He did not fight again until 1937, when he lost his title defense to Louis. He fought only once more before retiring. Priced at $1,200.

Here is one of those works of fiction that is too close to truth for comfort: The Rat Factory, by J.M. Ryan, published in 1971. It is a satirical story about an egomaniac cartoon creator who bears a certain resemblance to one Walt Disney. Among his characters are Ricky Rat, Dizzy Duck, Dirty Dog, and Halfwit Hog. Are all cartoon animals alliterate? $100.

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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