Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2009 Issue

History of Ideas from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books

Thoemmes18

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>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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000

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