Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2009 Issue

Five Centuries of Remarkable Works from Martayan Lan

Martayan42

Five centuries of works from Martayan Lan.


By Michael Stillman

Martayan Lan has published a remarkable catalogue of Books, Manuscripts and Prints, from the 15th through the 19th Centuries. This is a half-inch thick compendium of significant works from the dawn of printing to the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. We mention size, not because it inherently matters, but because each such large catalogue we have received has been notable not for its quantity of listings, but its quality and presentation. This one is no exception. Offered are 182 fine works, thoroughly described and illustrated. This is an outstanding collection of items rare and definitely antiquarian. These are a few.

Item 5 is a manuscript from Queen Elizabeth I's Privy Council, her most intimate advisers. The date was 1599, and England was in one of its various states of war with Spain. The document authorizes payment to a ship out of Plymouth sent to Spain on a spy mission. The amount granted was 200 pounds, a very considerable sum, and at first the Council was reluctant. However, payment was authorized as the mission intercepted "certaine letrs of the enemyes, wch served to good purpose for discovery of their intentions." Actually, this was a rather gentle mission, for as Martayan Lan points out, most of these visits by the British were intended to intercept Spanish shipping, a polite word for "piracy." In those cases, payment was unnecessary, as the arrangement was that the Crown, crew, and investors got to split the booty three ways. Priced at $12,500.

Item 14 is a first edition of one of the most important works of incunabula, Liber cronicarum cum figures et ymaginibus, a 1493 work better known as the Nuremberg Chronicle. Author and physician Hartmann Schedel created the first illustrated encyclopedia, and it is a masterpiece hard to imagine as printing was not yet 40 years old at the time. It is a history of the world, from Adam and Eve to what was then the present, plus the future, right to the end of times. It contains 1,809 woodcut illustrations including both historical personalities and places. These images provided many people with their first look at cities and places they could never hope to visit. $165,000.

It is probably just about the most familiar philosophical quotation around: "I think, therefore, I am." Item 82 is A Discourse of a Method for the well-guiding of Reason, and the Discovery of Truth in Sciences, by the quotable Rene Descartes. Of course, there are many more words of wisdom in this work, but let it be noted that this is a copy of the first English edition of 1649, meaning this was the first appearance of those words in the English language. $90,000.

Item 146 provides a very early Western look at Japan and the Philippines, and one focused on issues other than converting the natives. Francesco Carletti was a Florence merchant who circumnavigated the globe between 1594 and 1602, but spent much of that time in Asia. Most early reports from Japan came from missionaries, who were more interested in religious topics, while Carletti focused on matters of trade, along with topics such as food, construction, language, prostitution, and other such non-religious matters. On returning to Florence, Carletti presented his manuscript to Ferdinando de Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, but for whatever reason, it was not published until a century later. The book is Ragionamenti...sopra le cose da lui verdute ne suoi viaggi so dell'Indie Occidentali... published in 1701. $13,500.

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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