Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2009 Issue

A 30th Anniversary Catalogue from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins100

James Cummins 30th anniversary catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

James Cummins Bookseller hits two major milestones with the issuance of his latest catalogue. This represents the century mark for Cummins - Catalogue 100. It also celebrates 30 years in business (slightly more), having founded the firm in 1978. For those who follow his catalogues, the good news is that Mr. Cummins informs us that he is good "for another 30." We have been reviewing Cummins' catalogues for the last five of those years, starting with number 86 (you can find those reviews in the archives of AE Monthly). We will try to stick around for at least a few of the next 30. By the way, while Cummins has issued 100 numbered catalogues, he has issued many without numbers, so 100 does not cover his entire output.

While this catalogue does not have a title descriptive of the contents, Cummins has always specialized in top tier books and manuscripts, and he has chosen some of the best of the best to include in the latest collection. Offered are 30 items, one for each of his years in the business, and each would be a most worthy selection if you purchased just one book this year.

Item 3 is one of the earliest looks at the interior of non-Spanish North America. It is particularly unusual as it comes from someone other than a Jesuit missionary. Gabriel Sagard -Theodat was a Recollet, participating in the first Recollet mission (1615-1629). Sagard had a hard time roughing it in the woods, lasting only from 1623-24, but he made it all the way to the land of the Huron Indians in today's Ontario, and printed the first Huron vocabulary. He also provided a "sympathetic portrayal of Huron life and an exhaustive document of Huron culture." The title of Sagard's work on this Canadian Indian confederation which would soon be decimated by European diseases and rivalries is Le Grand Voyage du Pays des Hurons, published in 1832. Priced at $35,000.

Item 9 is probably the most important travel book in American (as in United States) history: History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark... It took eight years from their return in 1806 until this first edition was finally published in 1814. The book opened the great American West, still then part of Louisiana, to the imaginations, explorations, and finally settlement by the newly independent nation. Cummins quotes the preeminent western bibliography of Wagner-Camp, which describes this book as "...the definitive account of the most important exploration of the North American continent..." This is an exceptional copy and includes the folding map. $250,000.

Item 12 is one of the earliest Dickens' letters to make its way to the market in a long time, and it is a most entertaining one at that. In January, 1831, Dickens wrote to his good friend H.W. Kolle. Dickens and Kolle were dating the Beadnell sisters at the time, and were planning an outing with their girlfriends. Dickens encourages his friend to make the arrangements for the coach, explaining that Kolle is far better than he at negotiating such an arrangement. He then goes on to poke good-natured fun of his friend who apparently had been arrested for climbing a lamppost, presumably under the influence of too much drink. "I was never more delighted in my life than to hear that you were incarcerated," writes Dickens. "My only regret is that I was not there to see the fun..." $25,000.

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>

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