A List of Books Exhibited at the San Francisco Fair by Librairie Thomas-Scheler
By Michael Stillman
Librairie Thomas-Scheler of Paris recently printed a List of the Books Exhibited, this being books shown at the recent ABAA Book Fair in San Francisco. Thomas-Scheler brought some truly fine books across the Atlantic to display in America. There are more than a few that will interest those who collect the finest antiquarian books, but time constraints will hold us to describing just a few. There are many more like these, though those not sold have undoubtedly made their way back to France, where you may reach proprietors Bernard and Stephane Clavreuil.
Item 38 is a very early look at human anatomy: Anatomia Emendata per doctorem Mellerstadt, by Raimondo Mundinis (Mondino). This is a first illustrated edition from 1493, and the first anatomy published anywhere outside of Italy (it is from Leipzig, Germany). There were five editions, all extremely rare and essentially unobtainable, published earlier in Italy. However, the work itself is older still, it having been completed long before printing in 1316. This is the first modern work devoted entirely to anatomy. Mondino had re-introduced human dissection, abandoned for some 1,500 years at the time. He describes the various internal organs, and if his descriptions are a bit confusing, this was a widely admired work and remained in print until the middle of the 16th century, when it was surpassed by Vesalius' anatomy. Priced at $45,000.
Item 12 is a book that revealed the answer to one of the great mysteries of the age of exploration. La Perouse was one of the greatest French explorers. In 1785, he set out on a great expedition. His ships traveled around South America, then to Hawaii, and back to the Pacific coast and California and Alaska. There they picked up furs which they traded in Macau. Then it was over to Japan and Russia, where La Perouse sent Barthelemy de Lesseps back on a harrowing, year-long overland journey to Paris with his latest update. Next, La Perouse headed south, by Samoa, and eventually to Botany Bay in Australia. He had a cordial meeting there with the British, and next headed west. La Perouse and his ships were never seen again. It was a great mystery, and the French set out ships to find him. It was no use. No trace of La Perouse could be found. It was a mystery for 40 years, when one day, trader Peter Dillon was shown some European goods on the distant Santa Cruz Islands. Dillon believed these must be relics from the La Perouse expedition, and traveled to Vanikoro where they were found. He learned that the ships had been wrecked on the reefs during a storm, and that the crew had built a boat from the wreckage and sailed away, except for two crewmen who stayed behind, but were no longer around when Dillon arrived. Dillon brought some of the artifacts to de Lesseps, the sole remaining survivor, who identified them as from La Perouse's mission. Item 12 is a presentation copy from Dillon of the first French edition of his report, Voyage aux Iles de la mer Sud en 1827 et 1828 et relation de la decouverte du sort La Perouse, published in 1830. $6,500.
We all owe a debt of gratitude, though it may be given grudgingly, to Pierre Fauchard, as he has been called the "father of dentistry." He wrote a pioneering work on the field in 1728, and one can only imagine what a trip to the dentist must have been like then. His book is entitled Le chirurgien dentiste, ou traite des dents. It would only take another two centuries for novocaine to be invented. Item 19. $9,500.
Item 53 is the earliest printed book with technical illustrations. The title is De Re Militari, and offered is a first edition from 1472. Author Robertus Valturius created a treatise on the art of war, while including 92 woodcuts that showed military equipment, such as ladders for sieges, paddle-wheels, pontoons, and such (the latest in 15th century weaponry). These were not merely decorative illustrations, but technical drawings meant to provide practical guidance. The actual artist remains unknown, though some likely names have been suggested. $650,000.
Item 43 is A view of Sir Isaac Newton's philosophy, by one well-qualified to write on the subject. Henry Pemberton was a friend of Newton's physician who knew the great scientist. In his preface, Pemberton writes about his personal recollections of Newton, particularly in the latter's old age. The book also includes a poem about Newton by 16-year-old Richard Glover. $1,800.
Librairie Thomas-Scheler may be reached at +33 (0)1 43 26 97 69 or firstname.lastname@example.org.