Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

A Winter Miscellany from Michael Thompson Books


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>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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].
    <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>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions