Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2004 Issue

Oak Knoll Offers Titles from<br>The H.P. Kraus Reference Collection

Oakknoll

Oak Knoll offers items from the reference library of H. P. Kraus.


By Michael Stillman

Oak Knoll Books is noted for its catalogues of books about books. This month they have put together a particularly noteworthy one. Oak Knoll purchased much of the reference material available at last fall’s H.P. Kraus auction, and it is this material which highlights their 254th catalogue, “From the Reference Library of H.P. Kraus.”

H.P. Kraus was one of the most important booksellers in New York for over half a century. Emigrating from Europe just before the War, Mr. Kraus set up shop in the 1940s, and his store was at the forefront of American bookselling until it closed last year following the death of his widow.

Quality and importance were the hallmarks of material Kraus carried. His bookshop was truly the place to find the best of the best. What particularly distinguished Mr. Kraus was his research. He put together one of the best private reference libraries ever assembled. The volumes in that library far exceeded the number of books he had for sale. After the shop was closed, the library was put up for sale at Sotheby’s. One of the largest buyers at that sale was Oak Knoll. This is not surprising since Oak Knoll is America’s premier dealer in bibliographies and similar reference material. However, while much of that material was sold in combined lots at the auction, buyers may select the individual titles of interest to them from the Oak Knoll catalogue.

Much of what H.P. Kraus offered for sale was European and very early, so this was reflected in his reference library. There is a heavy concentration of titles in German and French, as well others in Italian and Spanish. Some will seem a bit esoteric to most collectors. However, for those with interests in specialized collections, this reference material will be of great interest. And just a note before moving on: this catalogue also includes related items not from the Kraus library. Kraus items include a commemorative book label which indicates they came from the Kraus collection.

While this material is focused on research rather than entertainment, we’ll start with an exception. Item 130 is John Payne Collier’s Notes and Emendations to the Text of Shakespeare’s Plays from Early Manuscript Corrections in a Copy of the Folio, 1632, in the Possession of J. Payne Collier, Esq. F.S.A. Forming a Supplemental Volume to the Works of Shakespeare by the Same Editor. Collier was a 19th century Shakespearean scholar and his finding of contemporary notations on Shakespearean plays must have excited great interest at the time. It included changes in lines and directions for many of Shakespeare’s plays. The problem was that it was all a fake. Collier forged the notes in apparent attempt to assure a “correct” understanding of Shakespeare. When published in 1853, Collier’s claims immediately drew their critics, but Collier prevented anyone from obtaining more than a cursory look at the “corrected” folio. However, when the Duke of Devonshire, the book’s possessor and Collier’s patron, died in 1858, the book was passed on to the British Museum. A full examination then revealed the notes were made in a hand contemporary with Collier rather than Shakespeare, and the truth was finally established. Priced at $275.

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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