Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2009 Issue

French and European Antiquarian Books from Librairie Thomas-Scheler

Thomas-scheler38

Antiquarian books from Librairie Thomas-Scheler.


By Michael Stillman

Librairie Thomas-Scheler has issued their 38th catalogue of Livres Anciens, or "antiquarian books" to those who speak English. This catalogue will require some familiarity with the French language to be fully appreciated, appropriate enough as most (but not all) works are in that language. The Clavreuils have put together another fine catalogue of antiquarian works from the Continent, covering numerous topics such as science, exploration, religion, literature, medicine, even dentistry. So, we will open wide the pages of this catalogue to examine a few of the works within.

Item 7 is a look at China in the 18th century from the perspective of five Jesuit missionaries to Peking. The title is Mémoires concernant l’histoire, les sciences, les arts, les moeurs, les usages, etc. des Chinois, par les Missionaires de Pékin, written by the missionaries Amiot, Bourgeois, Cibot, Ko and Poirot, published in 15 volumes from 1776-1791. This massive set includes information about Chinese law, customs, current affairs, science, and military strategy. One volume is devoted to the life of Confucius. Amiot, the main writer, went to China in 1740, and became sufficiently popular with the government that he was able to stay for the remainder of his life (he died in 1793), even after the suppression of the Jesuits. Priced at €15,000 (euros, or approximately $22,206 in U.S. dollars).

Louis Duperrey may not be the most famous of explorers. He had already sailed around the world with Freycinet when he convinced the French King to put him in charge of his own expedition. By this point (the 1820's) most of the sizable parts of the world had been discovered, so after a few stops in South America, Duperrey spent most of his time exploring numerous Pacific Islands, some unknown or barely known. It was a long trip, lasting from 1822 to 1825, and what Duperrey did bring back was an enormous volume of information relating to the natural history of these obscure places. He brought back a collection of over 5,000 species of plants and animals by the time he circled the globe to return to France. Item 74 is the rare atlas volumes of his Voyage autour du monde exécuté par ordre du roi, sur la corvette de Sa Majesté, La Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825, published 1826-1830. €85,000 (US $125,608).

George Vancouver was another great explorer, who also visited many of the Pacific Islands and Australia, but he is most noted for his visit to America's Pacific coast. He had visited the area as part of Cook's third expedition, but undertook his own exploration during the years 1791-1795, and completed a circumnavigation of the world as well. His name graces cities on both sides of the northwestern U.S.-Canadian border and a major island off the coast. Vancouver was English, not French, but item 190 is the first French edition of his account of the voyage, Voyage de Decouvertes, a l'ocean Pacifique du nord, et autour du monde, execute pendant les annees 1790...1795. €15,000 (US $22,206).

Maria Agnesi was a brilliant scholar in a time when women were rarely appreciated for their intelligence. Born in 1718, she was fluent in many languages by the time she was ten, and was giving lectures in Latin at her father's home on philosophy and similarly complicated subjects in her teens. However, it was as a mathematician that she developed her greatest reputation. She understood and wrote about subjects you and I will never understand. On the death of her father, she was appointed chairman of the mathematics department at the University of Bologna, virtually unheard for a woman in her time. In 1748, she published Instituzioni analitiche, two volumes and over 1,000 pages of higher mathematics. Surprisingly, Ms. Agnesi was more interested in a religious and charitable career, and after the death of her father, who pushed her intellectual pursuits, she built a home for the poor, ran a home for the elderly, and died in poverty, having given away all of her earlier wealth. Item 2. €4,000 (US $5,912).

Item 46 is a copy of Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand's Memoires d'Outre-Tombe (memories from beyond the grave). It was published, fittingly, shortly after his death in 1848. Chateaubriand doubled as various officials in numerous French governments and a romantic novelist. It gave him lots to write about. In 1809, he determined to write these memoirs, a project that would take 40 years to complete. It is his most notable work. €8,500 (US $12,561).

Librairie Thomas-Scheler may be reached at +33 (0)1 43 26 97 69 or basane@thomas-scheler.fr.

You will find many of Librairie Thomas-Scheler's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

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].
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