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>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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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