Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2009 Issue

History of Ideas from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books


History of Ideas from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books.

By Michael Stillman

We have received the latest presentation from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books, their 18th catalogue, History of Ideas. Thoemmes specializes in books of philosophy, covering the great thoughts, and the not-so great thoughts, of man. Most of these go back to the days when science, philosophy, and religion were more intertwined than they are today. Observation and the scientific method have made these more distinct pursuits, but these earlier philosophers did not have the benefit of today's scientific knowledge. Here are a few of these historic works of thought.

We start with item #1, an important Dutch work concerning witches: Nodige bedenkingen Op de niewe beweegingen... by Balthasar Bekker. In it, he argues against beliefs in the existence of witches and other spirits. This may not sound controversial now, but it did at the time. There were many people who believed that denying the existence of the Devil and evil spirits amounted to denying the existence of God and the validity of religion. This work is a response to an attack on his book of a year earlier. Bekker maintained that outside of the human soul, there was no interaction between the physical and spiritual world. Therefore, we could not be visited by unearthly apparitions, including those who invaded human bodies. This applied to evil as well as angelic spirits. This view was considered heretical by many, but it has been said that Bekker almost single-handedly put a stop to the support for witch trials in northern Europe. Indeed, the timing of this book - 1692 - will be familiar to Americans who have studied the Salem witch trials. Priced at £650 (British pounds, or approximately $1,072 in U.S. currency).

The antagonism Bekker caused can be seen in item 2: Ondersoek en antwoord Van Balthasar Bekker... This is a 1693 account of the church proceedings against Bekkar, along with his replies. Fortunately, while witches might still be burned at the stake at this time, such punishments were no longer routinely handed out to those with controversial religious views, so not much came out of this. £600 (US $990).

Speaking of witchcraft and the supernatural, Joseph Glanvill is a most interesting fellow. Glanvill was a 17th century English clergyman and philosopher. He was one of the foremost proponents of scientific observation and religious tolerance. His attitudes on these subjects made him a target of those with conservative religious views. However, Glanvill was also a believer in witches and other such apparitional beings. He was among those who believed the Bible pointed to their existence, so to disbelieve that such spirits were interacting with the physical world would amount to disbelieving religion itself. One wonders how Glanvill would have reacted to the excesses of Salem, but he died in 1680, before the worst consequences of belief in witchcraft began to play out. Item 14 is his Essays on Several Important Subjects in Philosophy and Religion, published in 1676. £1,250 (US $2,062).

Most with an interest in philosophy would know what Immanuel Kant wrote, but how many know what he read? Item 29 is Immanuel Kants Bucher. This is an account of what was in his library by Arthur Warda, published in 1922. On his death in 1804, Kant left his books to his mathematician friend Johann Genischen. Genischen died just three years later and in 1808 his library was put up for auction. Warda's book covers the 377 lots from that auction that originated in Kant's collection. £100 (US $165).

John Stuart Mill was a strong believer in personal liberty, so long as it did not result in harm to others, and supported many liberal causes of his day, including women's suffrage. However, one such liberal idea, that he once supported but changed his opinion upon, was the secret ballot. Most liberal thinkers argued for it, believing voters would not vote their conscience out of fear of retribution from those in power. Mill's concern was that they would vote for their uglier personal interests, rather than the ideals they espoused, if allowed the secret ballot. Public voting would force people to vote their ideals. Item 39 is a letter expressing these views he wrote to the Editor of the Birmingham Post on July 29, 1868. £1,200 (US $1,979).

Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)117 902 8546. Their website is found at www.rrbltd.com.

You will find many of Rudi Thoemmes' books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
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