Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2009 Issue

Capri and Other Places from Elysium Books


We think we can spot the title "Capri" in this latest catalogue from Elysium Books.

By Michael Stillman

Elysium Books recently issued a new catalogue which we believe is entitled Capri. Believe because the title page has no title, but "Capri" can be found lightly shaded on the word search cover (click the image to the left to see). This catalogue is in no way limited to items related to the island off the Italian coast, though it frequently appears. However, Capri may be symbolic of the type of material you will find. Capri was noted as an open place in long ago eras when most locations were not so free. It attracted an art colony and a thriving gay community. Most of the works in this catalogue pertain to the gay community, and most come from a time when it was subject to persecution and condemnation. Capri was a place where gay men could live in relative freedom. Here are a few of the works offered in this Caprian catalogue.

We will start with the earliest item, Anecdotes pour servir à l'histoire secrete des ebugors... This 1733 work is a thinly veiled account of the life of Benjamin Deschauffours, burned at the stake for sodomy in France in 1726. Deschauffours was guilty of more than just sodomy, though that would have been enough in itself to get him some form of punishment. Deschauffours ran a business of procuring boys from the streets of Paris and selling them for their favors to French aristocrats. He was deserving of punishment, though this was a bit extreme. This pamphlet treats his character sympathetically, as someone championing the cause of these oppressed boys. Elysium notes that while the pamphlet was reprinted many times, this first edition is quite scarce. It is herein bound with several other works. Item 147. Priced at $4,500.

Many of the items in this catalogue come from the personal collection of Norman Douglas. Douglas wrote on controversial themes, and his at times controversial personal life often kept him moving around. He spent much of his time on Capri, more hospitable to his behavior than England, where he was educated. He is best known for the 1917 novel South Wind, a lightly disguised account of life on an island amazingly similar to Capri. Elysium offers several collections of monographs Douglas kept on various subjects, such as Naples, Calabria, and herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians). The latter includes 56 monographs and offprints. For Douglas, we will start at the conclusion rather than the beginning. Item 69 is his Footnote on Capri, his last book. It contains 48 photographs by his close friend Islay Lyons. It was published in 1952, the year Douglas died (he died on Capri). It comes with several items from Douglas or Lyons. $275.

Henry Miller may not have shared sexual orientation with Norman Douglas, but he did share controversy and condemnation, along with an interest in sexual themes. Item 127 is a Paris first edition of Miller's most notable work, Tropic of Cancer, inscribed to Douglas in 1934, the year of publication. $27,500.

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>

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