Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

A Winter Miscellany from Michael Thompson Books

Thompson93

A Winter Miscellany from Michael Thompson Books.


By Michael Stillman

Michael Thompson Books has released a Winter Miscellany Consisting of 100 or So Books [Editor's note: 101], Mostly Recent Acquisitions, including a large selection of titles on printing history and bibliography. It's always easier for a reviewer when the title describes the catalogue, as it allows us to proceed directly to the books inside.

Item 28 is The Tides and Kindred Phenomena in the Solar System by George Howard Darwin. Darwin, like his grandfather and father, as well as his son, was a notable scientist. Not as notable as his father, Charles, who first promulgated the theory of evolution, but George was nonetheless an important astronomer of his time. In this 1898 book, he expounds on his theories about tides. This copy once belonged to, and bears the signature of, W.H. Bragg, who won a Nobel Prize in 1915 for an analysis of crystal structure by x-rays. Priced at $650.

From science of the very large, we go to science of the very small. Item 95 is the bound volume of the issues of the magazine Nature for 1953. This year's issues were significant, for it was in the April 25 issue that James Watson and Francis Crick announced their discovery of the structure of DNA, generally considered the most important biological advance of the 20th century. At the time, they noted, "it has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material." Indeed, just five weeks later, in the May 30 issue, they discussed the genetic implications in greater detail. Offprints of their articles were issued shortly thereafter, but the articles in Nature were the first printings of their discoveries. $3,250.

Item 35 is the last of a long and magnificent run. In 1919, Edwin and Robert Grabhorn moved from Indianapolis to San Francisco, where they set up shop as printers. Within a few years, they had become noted as the greatest fine press printers in the West, perhaps the entire country. For over four decades, they continued to print many of the most collectible fine press items ever published. However, in 1965, Edwin now 76 years old, Robert 65, they decided to call it quits. They closed down their shop, though Robert and much of their stock joined former employee Andrew Hoyem at what would become Arion Press. Item 35 is Alamos: A Philosophy of Living. This book, written Richard J. Elkus, contains 24 black and white photographs of Alamos, Mexico, taken by the author. Published in 1965, in a run of 487 copies, it was the last major work published by the Grabhorn Press. $450.

Item 34 is a fraud on a fraud. The title is Brother and Sister Sonnets, by George Eliot, something of a fraud him/herself ("George Eliot" was the penname of the woman writer Marian Evans Lewes). The book has a stated publication place of London (likely false) and a date of 1869 (certainly false). One of the tricks of the noted forger, Thomas Wise, was to take a work first published in a collection and create a separate edition with a date earlier than that of the compilation. Voila. He now had a "true" first edition, one previously unknown, and possessed by no one other than Wise. This item was evidently a forgery of the Wise forgery, as it differs in certain respects to the copies Wise created. $850.

Item 98 is the biography of a biographer, and hopefully a bit more accurate than the biographer was wont to write. It is Mason Locke Weems. His Works and Ways, by Paul Leicester Ford, published in three volumes in 1929. Weems was ordained a clergyman, hence he became popularly known as "Parson Weems," though he spent most of his career as a printer and author. Weems wrote biographies of several of America's early leaders, but the one he is most remembered for is that of George Washington. Weems was quite adoring of his subjects, so much so that he was given to flattery, exaggeration, and perhaps downright fabrication. The Weems story that has been told down through the ages is that of George Washington and the cherry tree. Weems claimed an old, distant relative relayed the story to him about how the six-year-old Washington, with a new hatchet in hand, had tried it out on a prized cherry tree. When his father asked young George if he was the perpetrator (to use some modern terminology), Washington replied, "I can't tell a lie," and then 'fessed up to the deed. His father, so taken up by his son's honesty, could only express his pride in his son's behavior. There is no other evidence to suggest such an event ever took place, and it seems unlikely, as based on his father's response, George would likely have chopped down every tree on their property. Author Ford was murdered by his brother in 1902, with this work finally being completed by his sister 27 years later. $450.

Michael Thompson Books may be reached at 323-658-1901 or mrtbooksla@pacbell.net. Their website is www.mrtbooksla.com.

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>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>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>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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