Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2009 Issue

A Spring Miscellany from Austin's Antiquarian Books

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A Spring Miscellany from Austin's Antiquarian Books.


By Michael Stillman

We have received our first catalogue from Austin's Antiquarian Books of Wilmington, Vermont: Spring Miscellany. Books, Manuscripts, Ephemera. It is, as it says, a "miscellany," meaning the catalogue is hard to describe. It may not have everything, but it does have many things. Certainly most meet the expectations of the bookseller's middle name - antiquarian - and there is a slight leaning toward titles from their native New England. However, there are works from all across America, and a fair number of books from overseas. So, we will describe a few of the works we found with the caution that these are not necessarily representative of the wide array of subjects available in this catalogue.

You undoubtedly know that Ferdinand Magellan was the first to circumnavigate the globe (actually, Magellan died before the journey completed, but his surviving crew completed the circle). However, do you know who was first to circumnavigate the world alone? The answer is Canadian-born seaman Joshua Slocum, who completed the journey in a little over three years from 1895-1898. Slocum was a man born for the sea. He probably spent more of his life on a boat than on land. For years, he, his wife, and several children lived on a boat, traversing the world, making money hauling cargo. After his first wife died, he remarried, but wife number two quickly grew tired of life at sea. By 1895, the rest of his family was busy with other things and Slocum set out on his historic journey. At the time it made him famous, and his account is considered by many to be one of the great travel adventures. After his circumnavigation, he attempted to settle down, but it didn't work, and he was back at sea. In 1909, heading for adventures in South America, Slocum and his boat were lost at sea. Item 113 is his book: Sailing Alone Around the World, published in 1905. It is inscribed, "Yours very truly Joshua Slocum on the Spray Cottage City Aug 15th, 1906." Cottage City, renamed Oak Bluffs in 1907, is located on Martha's Vineyard, Slocum's last home on land. The "Spray" was the boat in which he sailed around the world, and also the one on which he was lost at sea. Priced at $425.

Item 38 is a typed, signed letter from Thomas Edison, dated July 25, 1908. It was written to Theodore H. Miller of Poughkeepsie. Miller had sent Edison some photographs of his son operating a phonograph, and Edison writes, "it gives me such gratification to hear of the pleasure the phonograph gives to others." While we cannot be certain of this, it seems very likely that this is the Theodore H. Miller who was an inventor, tinkerer, fan of Edison, and a successful businessman, Superintendent of Poughkeepsie's largest industrial firm DeLaval Separator. Miller had a young son at the time, plus a one-year-old daughter. She, Elizabeth "Lee" Miller, later Lady Penrose, would grow to be a famous Vogue fashion model. The story is she was discovered on a New York street by Conde Nast himself. Next, she moved to the other side of the camera, becoming a noted photographer, collaborating (and more) with Man Ray, and a friend of Picasso. She even appeared in a Jean Cocteau film in 1930. Perhaps her greatest triumph was her photographs during the war, and of concentration camps and other German scenes shortly after it ended. Her irrepressible style undoubtedly came from her father, an iconoclast who also dabbled in photography and sent his child's picture to Edison. $1,250.

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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