Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2009 Issue

Natural History from Raymond M. Sutton, Jr.

Suttonca09

Natural history books from Raymond M. Sutton.


By Michael Stillman

This month we received our first catalogue from Raymond M. Sutton, Jr., of Williamsburg, Kentucky. Sutton's specialty, and the catalogue's title are one and the same: Books on Natural History... This catalogue was prepared for the recent California Antiquarian Book Fair, so while we are about six weeks behind the times, that amount is insignificant, considering most of the books are centuries old. As one would expect of books in this field, they combine the latest knowledge about the natural world of their time with some of the most beautiful and artistic illustrations. This is where art and science intersect. Here are some of the titles Sutton is offering.

Item 21 describes what may be the most important expedition for natural history, though it hardly seemed so at the time. It is the Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, Between the Years 1826 and 1836. This three-volume set was prepared by Captains Robert Fitz-Roy and Philip Parker King, with the third volume written by naturalist Charles Darwin. It is his account of the second voyage, on the Beagle, which led to a total reevaluation of how we saw the world. Published in 1839, Darwin describes his discoveries in Patagonia and surrounding areas from 1831-1836. Darwin came away from the voyage convinced that life on earth had undergone change, even if he was still grappling with understanding the exact mechanism. That he would publish two decades later to great controversy. Priced at $22,000.

Item 47 is a third and completely revised edition of a work that was enormously influential on Darwin, Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology: being an inquiry how far the former changes of the earth's surface are referable to causes now in operation. Lyell looked at geological events occurring today, concluded they were similar to what had occurred in the ancient past, and used this to interpret the causes of evidence displayed in the geologic records. Darwin would adopt his approach in deciphering what he found in nature. Years later, Lyell would learn of, and reluctantly come to somewhat accept Darwin's theory of evolution, though his strong, traditional religious beliefs made this difficult for him. $1,700.

After his momentous publication of his theory of evolution in 1860, Darwin set about studying the process of natural selection in more mundane areas. Here are some of those works: Item 18. Insectivorous Plants. First edition. 1875. $650. Item 19. The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants. Second edition. 1875. $750. Item 20. The Power of Movement in Plants. First Issue. 1880. $1,000.

Now we have an item for collectors of James Bond books. James Bond? What is the famous, but fictional secret agent doing in a catalogue of natural history? It turns out the real (as opposed to the fictional) James Bond was an American ornithologist, whose specialty was birds of the Caribbean. You might think that the identity of the ornithologist and secret agent's names is a coincidence, but it is not. The fictional Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, was a birdwatcher who owned a copy of James Bond's Birds of the West Indies. Now you can too. Reportedly, Fleming wanted a very simple, ordinary name for his hero, and he found it in the ornithologist. This book was published in 1936 and contains descriptions of every bird known to be found in the West Indies. Item 11. $500.

Roger Tory Peterson's bird guides are the most popular ever among birdwatchers. Here is his first: a first edition, first state of A Field Guide to the Birds... published in 1934. It is inscribed to a Miss Alice Klund with hopes it would help her identify birds on her trips to Presque Isle. We have not been able to positively identify Miss Klund, though there was an Alice Klund close to Peterson in age who grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, about an hour from Peterson's hometown of Jamestown, New York. Item 53. $3,000.

Item 77 is the complete, six-volumes (including atlas) of Charles Wilkes' Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the Years 1838...1842, published in 1845. Wilkes visited numerous places in South America, the Pacific coast of North America, Hawaii and other Pacific islands, and Australia. However, what he is best known for was his early explorations of Antarctica. Wilkes' expedition was important for America, as it was the first major exploring voyage by the new country, and it helped establish its prestige on the international stage. $15,000.

Raymond M. Sutton, Jr., may be reached at 606-549-3464 or suttonbks@2geton.net. The website is www.suttonbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions