Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2009 Issue

Childhood Comes Alive in the Pages of Aleph-Bet Book

Alephbet90

Chris Van Allsburg's original art for The Stranger on Aleph-Bet cover.


By Michael Stillman

Aleph-Bet Books has just released its Catalogue 90 of Children's Books and Illustrated Books. These are wonderful catalogues, filled with memories and imagination. You may outgrow the books you liked when you were in your teens or twenties, but you never outgrow the ones you loved as a child. You may read books by Dr. Phil today, but they are no match for those of Dr. Seuss. And, long before our new President told us that yes, we can, the Little Engine That Could taught us that important lesson. They are all here, and so many more, inside the pages of this latest catalogue from Aleph-Bet Books.

Aleph-Bet catalogues, listings in alphabetical order, generally start with ABC books. There are 80 of them this time, including several which were designed to inculcate the young with advertising messages. However, these products were not the plastic toys or sugary cereals and drinks we see advertised on television today. For example, item 2 is A Balsamic Ditty, which promotes Wild Cherry Balsam and Peruvian Syrup to children. "C" is for Prince Albert's castle and gold, "Which he gladly would give without pride or assumption / Could his daughter be cured of the dread fiend Consumption." If only Albert knew of this simple remedy, he could have saved his gold. From 1883. Priced at $250.

Perhaps the kiddies would prefer Scott's Emulsion. Item 7 is New Jingle Joys For Scott's Emulsion Girls and Boys. This "pure medical nourishment" should appeal to girls and boys more than candy. From 1913. $250. Fletcher's Castoria and Health Products' cod liver oil are also out with direct appeals to children. The latter must have had the kids begging their moms for a spoonful of tasty cod liver oil. An odd one is a children's ABC book promoting B.F. Goodrich and Palmer Tires. Few adults, let alone children, could afford automobiles in 1902, but here is Ye Primer: A Rhyme Book of Ye Letters of Ye Alphabet. "S is for safe / Which our tires surely are / There are others but / Ours are better by far." Were people still saying "ye" in 1902? Item 9. $500.

That haunting image on the cover of this catalogue (click the thumbnail image upper left to see) is a piece of original artwork for the 1986 book The Stranger. It appears opposite the text beginning, "But it wasn't a deer." The original watercolor has been matted and is signed by Chris Van Allsburg. Item 562. $27,500.

Frederick Waugh was a popular American artist of the early 20th century. He was best known for his seascapes. Waugh also tried his hand at writing, but was far less successful. Item 269 is a fantastic tale he published in 1916: The Clan of the Munes. It is a strange fantasy, somewhat along the lines of Alice in Wonderland. The Munes were bizarre creatures created from dead tree stumps by an Indian wizard. The illustrated story was perhaps a bit too strange for the time, and it did not sell well. Unsold copies were destroyed, making it something of a rarity. $850.

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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