Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2009 Issue

Rare and Antiquarian Books and Ephemera from Samuel Gedge Ltd.

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Very old books and ephemera from Samuel Gedge.


By Michael Stillman

Samuel Gedge Ltd. Rare Books has issued their Catalogue VII. Offered are books and ephemera that are rare and antiquarian, but their subjects are varied. There are many one-of-a-kind manuscript items, along with printed material that came in multiple copies, though few of those copies are still to be found. Most items are from the British Isles, as might be expected of an English bookseller, but that is not a requirement to make it to the pages of this catalogue. Here are a few of the interesting items you will find inside.

We will start with a unique item that gives us a fascinating look at Elizabethan society. Sir Philip Sidney was one of the most admired figures of the era. Born in 1554, he became a minor political figure, but was most popular as a writer and brave soldier. His notable works include the sonnets of Astrophel and Stella, and the prose work The Arcadia (later revised as The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia). While changing literary styles have dropped these works from the New York Times best-seller lists, they were very popular in their day. Sidney went off to the Netherlands to fight the Spanish and died in battle at the age of 32. Despite the respect he had earned, lineage was an all-important factor in the era. No matter how accomplished personally, having noble ancestors was essential. Around 1580, Sidney's father had Robert Cooke prepare a family genealogy. Included with that genealogy was a pedigree for Philip Sidney. That pedigree is offered as item 17. It seems that the Sidneys had a respectable set of ancestors, but Cooke went beyond the call of duty, sprucing it up with some invented forebears. He traced the family back to a William de Sidne who lived in the 12th century, or would have lived in the 12th century had he not been a fabrication of Cooke. Whether Sidney's father was a party to the fabrication, or Cooke was simply trying to please his client, is not known. It was not until research was conducted centuries later that Cooke's fabrication was revealed. Price on request.

Item 25 is a funeral notice from 1807 for a British resident of Calcutta. Such notices were a bit more blunt in those days - "The friends of the late William Townsend Jones, Esq. are hereby respectfully informed, that his corpse will be removed from his dwelling house, Rada Bazar, precisely at 5 o'clock this evening, when the favor of their company is requested to attend the funeral..." What Gedge has been able to learn about Mr. Jones is that he was listed as an "Irish attorney," and in 1789 the Calcutta Gazette reported his imprisonment for flogging to death the brother of his doorkeeper. Anger management might have helped. Priced at £250 (British pounds or roughly $416 in U.S. dollars).

Perhaps Mr. Jones could have benefited from the services of the Royal Humane Society. Formed originally as "The Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned," they had branched out to all sorts of resuscitation by 1806, hence the name change. Among the items displayed in this 1806 Annual Report of the Royal Humane Society is a set of "nostril pipes," a bellows-like device for forcing air and smoke into the lungs. It both saved and killed you at the same time. Another item was a wheelbarrow-like stretcher that emitted smoke. There is also a report on the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia, with advice on preventing its spread and avoiding "premature interment." £450 (US $750).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle: Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson. Online only auction Aug 3-14</b>
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>The Sportsman's Portfolio of American Field Sports.</i> 1855. Est: $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Bishop's Birds. Etchings of Water-Fowl and Upland Game Birds.</i> 1936. Est: $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hunting Big Game in Far Northwest British Columbia</i>. 1904. Est: $500 to $800
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Mananaland. Adventuring with Camera and Rifle Through California in Mexico.</i> 1929. Est: $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle: Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson. Online only auction Aug 3-14</b>
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Grand Canyon Trails.</i> 1924. Est: $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>A Sporting Trip through Abyssinia. A Narrative of a nine months’ journey..</i> 1902. Est: $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hunting in Tanzania [...in Zimbabwe; ...the Sudan; ...in Botswana; ...in Ethiopia; ...in Zambia; ...in South Africa; ...in Kenya]</i>. 1991-2000. Est: $800 to $1200
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hounds and Hunting through the Ages ... with an Introduction by the Earl of Lonsdale</i>. 1928. Est: $600 to $900
  • <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:</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

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