Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2009 Issue

Old and Rare Books About Books from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books

Knuf2009

The latest from Frits Knuf.


By Michael Stillman

Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books has issued a catalogue of Old and Rare Books 2009. These are primarily books in the "books about books" and bibliography field. A large number of the texts are in the French language, Knuf being located in France, but there are also many in English and other languages. The description of "old" is certainly accurate, as there are few items here that don't date back at least a couple of centuries, and "rare" is undoubtedly correct as well as there is nothing commonplace in this catalogue. Here are a few samples of the books Frits Knuf has available in this first catalogue of 2009.

Item 14 is a catalogue for the early English bookseller Richard Chiswell. It was published in 1683, a date far closer to Gutenberg than it is to today. Chiswell sold both books he printed and those issued by others. He lists his books by size, starting with 36 folios and working progressively down through smaller sizes. Chiswell was not a specialist, as all sorts of topics are offered, including several of Speed's maps. Richard Chiswell was active from 1660 to 1711, and he was one of if not Britain's most important bookseller at the turn of the 18th century. Priced at €850 (euros, or approximately $1,092 in U.S. currency).

Item 18 is another early English catalogue, but this one comes from a far less reputable bookseller. It is headed New Books Printed for E. Curll. Edmund Curll was the personification of sleaze. He didn't just settle for things like scandal, pornography, and junk, but engaged in slander, pirated works, fabricated letters, and other outright lies. What he did do well, not surprisingly, was sell books, but his lies did at one point land him in jail. Still, he never learned his lesson, or, at least, he better learned the lesson that lies and scandal make money, rather than it lands you in the pokey. This Curll catalogue, published in 1740, includes both serious books and those of the variety for which he was better known. €900 (US $1,156).

Item 53 is a 17th century work on French printing and bibliography: Histoire de l'Imprimerie et de La Librairie... It was written by Jean de la Caille, and published in 1689 (this is a first and only edition). The bulk of the book is a bibliographic dictionary of Parisian printers and booksellers up to 1689. The book also discusses the invention and early history of printing and provides a list of first books printed in various locations. €2,000 (US $2,569).

There have been many ways of keeping out of the military over the years, but here is an unexpected one. Item 58 is a legal notice headed, Loi Qui Exempte de l'Enrolement Pour les Frontieres... Published in 1792, during the French Revolution, it prohibits printers from enlisting in the army, even voluntarily, unless they can provide a certificate showing there are still enough people working in the printing plant to carry on operations. We've heard of working in an arms plant as an exemption, but working for a printing press? Obviously printing carried a bit more respect in those days. €200 (US $257).

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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