Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2008 Issue

Books About Gems and Jewelry from Twelfth Street Booksellers

12th29

The latest on gems from the Twelfth Street Booksellers.


By Michael Stillman

We recently received the annual catalogue from Twelfth Street Booksellers of Santa Monica, California. Twelfth Street specializes in books about gems and jewelry. This is a field where books tend to be uncommon or obscure, and few individuals are expert in the book side of the business. As such, their clients go beyond just collectors to those with specific needs for these works, such as jewelers, jewelry designers, appraisers, museums, historians and librarians. Whether your interest in these titles is as a collector or for some specific, practical need, Twelfth Street supplies a wide assortment of books and expertise in the field. Here are a few samples from Catalogue 29. Gemology, Gems, Jewelry, Minerals.

We will start with the most valuable resource for those seeking the literature of the field: Gemology. An Annotated Bibliography, two volumes by John Sinkankas, published in 1993. It describes 7,458 books and other papers concerning gemology, jewelry, and related subjects. The books described range from the 15th century to the 1980s. Twelfth Street describes this one as "the monumental work on the literature of gemology." Item 87. Priced at $200.

Item 85 is another Sinkankas work: Gemstones of North America, published in 1959. This book will tell you about gemstones found in North America, their properties, and where they are found. Included is a section on collecting. $65.

Item 13 is the story of a great jewelry theft: Drama in Diamonds. The Story of the Oppenheimer Jewel Theft. One night in 1955, someone broke into the bedroom of Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer of Johannesburg, South Africa. They made off with $600,000 of Mrs. Oppenheimer's jewelry from her safe, an amount equivalent to many millions today. Their ease of entry and use of a key she kept hidden led to the belief of an inside job, and suspicion fell on her domestic staff. However, they all checked out. This 1957 book will tell you the rest of the story, the finding of her jewels, and the shady characters who played a role in this exciting story. $35.

Perhaps the Oppenheimers should have joined the organization described in this book: The History of the Jewelers' Security Alliance of the United States 1883-1958. Okay, this is the wrong country for them, but the point is you can't just leave millions in jewelry lying around the house. This organization has helped its members protect their jewels as well as providing assistance in tracking down and prosecuting thieves. Tales of the work they did in catching criminals add to the entertainment value of this book. It cuts off in 1958 as the book was published in that year, the group's 75th anniversary. Item 33. $65.

Item 80 is the first step in the story of the discovery of the "Bactrian Gold" in the long troubled country of Afghanistan: Bactrian Gold from the Excavation of the Tillya-Tepe Necropolis in Northern Afghanistan. The author is Victor Sarianidi, an archeologist who preceded the invading Soviet forces into Afghanistan in 1978. This book was translated from the original Russian and published in Leningrad in 1985. What the Soviet archeologists discovered was some 20,000-plus gold and other ornaments in several burial mounds in northern Afghanistan. They date back some 2,000 years. While this book was published before the Soviets were forced to flee the country, the collection has had an extraordinary story since, hidden in a vault during the Taliban regime and only more recently being rediscovered. Selected items can currently be seen in a touring exhibit in the United States, and eventually, the collection will be held in a new museum in Kabul. $650.

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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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