Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2009 Issue

Six Hundred Children's Books from Aleph-Bet Books

Alephbet91

Your childhood is alive and well at Aleph-Bet Books.


By Michael Stillman

Aleph-Bet Books has released their Catalogue 91 of Children's Books and Illustrated Books. Actually, most are illustrated children's books, thereby qualifying under both headings. These books are great fun, though some of the ethnic stereotypes of another age can make us quite uncomfortable. Otherwise, these trips back to our youth, and that of our grandparents and great-grandparents as well, can't help but make you feel good. So we will now take our trip back in time.

Item 139 is one of 100 copies of the 1876 first edition of Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark that was specially bound for the author. Tipped in is a copy, also from 1876, of his rare booklet, An Easter Greeting to Every Child Who Loves Alice. This was privately printed by Carroll, actual name Lutwidge Dodgson, for his friends, this being the rare first issue. The book carries an inscription "from the author," dated March 29, 1876. It is inscribed to Beatrix Tolhurst. We cannot find out much about Miss Tolhurst other than Dodgson requested permission of her mother to take her picture in 1869 and inscribed at least one other book to her (in 1871), so we would guess she qualifies as one of Dodgson's young friends. Priced at $11,500.

Here is another signed item: Love Letters of Mark Twain, published in 1949. Twain has signed the item both as Twain and with his real name, Samuel Clemens. This is an edition limited to 155 copies. Okay. I wasn't born yesterday. I don't recall when Twain died, but it was certainly well before 1949. He would have been 115 years old then. Twain was not signing anything, at least on this earth, in that year. Well, it turns out this isn't a forgery, or ghostly appearance, after all. Publisher Harper & Brothers evidently had these signed pages in their possession for many years, and decided to use them in this special limited edition. Item 558. $5,000.

Here is another signature from yet another humorous author, and one who was definitely alive at the time he wrote it. Item 77 is a letter dated July 15, 1917, from L. Frank Baum to his illustrator John R. Neill. In the typed, signed letter, on Baum's letterhead depicting many of his books, the author expresses his appreciation for Neill's drawings for The Lost Princess of Oz. This was the eleventh of his Oz books. Baum did pick up that Neill had put two peaches on a tree that was only supposed to have one, but otherwise appreciates his faithfulness to the text. Baum then expresses regrets that they haven't seen each other in a long time, and notes, "I remember our former foregatherings with real pleasure and think we would harmonize if we were jailed together in the same cell." $27,500.

We all have had books by Dr. Seuss, but how many out there have a book by Mrs. Seuss? Yes, there really was such a person, and she too was an author. Her name was Helen Palmer (technically Helen Palmer Geisel, but she left off the good doctor's real last name on her books). Item 94 is her book I Was Kissed by a Seal at the Zoo, published in 1962. Rather than using fantastic drawings as did her husband, Mrs. Palmer-Seuss illustrated her book with photographs. Item 94. $125.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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