Illustrated Books from Rare Illustrated Books
By Michael Stillman
We recently received our first catalogue from Rare Illustrated Books of Sydney, Australia. It is a collection of...well...rare illustrated books. These aren't ordinary illustrated books, but some of the finest examples of printed and manuscript illustrations. If you are thinking that they must all be books about kangaroos and the Bee Gees, this is not an Australian catalogue, but a worldwide one. Most items are actually European in origin, though America, Japan, and Australia are also represented. The title of this latest catalogue is IIII2009, and while I don't know whether this is the fourth catalogue of 2009, or for the fourth quarter of 2009, or some other explanation more obvious to those who speak Australian, I can say this is a catalogue that artfully connects the visual with the written word. Here are some of the items being offered.
The catalogue begins with an extraordinary copy of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. This is a manuscript version, translated from the German by H.C. Sterling and illustrated by an unrecorded female artist identified only as "A. Maynard." The manuscript is dated 1856, was likely created in Boston, and could be the first American translation of the famous book. This was a presentation copy, with an inscription from Andersen to his mother. Priced at AU $8,250 (Australian dollars, or U.S. equivalent of approximately $7,527).
Next we have another presentation copy, this a copy of The Nursery 'Alice' by Lewis Carroll, actual name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. It is inscribed to one Basil Moody, and as always, Carroll/Dodgson solved the dual name dilemma by simply inscribing it "from the author." This 1890 book was illustrated by the great John Tenniel, but Carroll has added to that with two of his own, tipped in "puzzle-pictures." Carroll would create these puzzles for children and ask them to name the animal pictured before the pieces were all put together. AU $8,000 (US $7,299).
Here is a book about paper, but not the kind you see in books: Old Time Wall Papers. An account of the pictorial papers on our forefathers' walls with a study of wall paper making and decoration. This is definitely old-time wallpaper, as the book itself is over a century old, having been published in 1905. Author Kate Sanborn photographed the papers in the great old homes and estates of New England, so what we are seeing is the styles of paper used in the 18th and early 19th century. AU $525 (US $479).
Next we have an extremely rare book on an obscure subject, a how-to book published in 1875: Serviettes, Dinner Napkins and How to Fold Them. Following author Georgiana C. Clark's philosophy that "the eye must be feasted as well as the palate," she provides systematic instructions on providing amazing designs with table napkins. If you are a restaurateur looking to impress your customers, we suggest you grab this copy quickly, as Rare Illustrated Books notes there is only one other copy known. AU $700 (US $638).