Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

A Catalogue of Catalogues from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books

Knufcatcats

A Catalogue of Catalogues from Frits Knuf.


By Michael Stillman

Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books has issued a Catalogue of Catalogues. There are all types of catalogues offered here, but nothing else - auction catalogues, bookseller catalogues, private and public library catalogues, even catalogues of forbidden books. Regardless of their original purpose, time turns all of these into unintentional bibliographies. They are a source of information about the books they list, often carrying descriptions, points of identification, history, and value. A catalogue of catalogues is essentially a book about books, which just happens to be Frits Knuf's specialty.

On the assumption that bigger is better, we will start with A Catalogue of Books, published by Henry Bohn in 1841. It was a mammoth undertaking, the largest book catalogue ever printed, at least at the time. It offered 23,208 books for sale, taking up almost 2,000 pages. It was divided into 27 headings and numerous subheadings, an obvious necessity when dealing with so many books. Bohn was a major London bookseller, publisher, and auctioneer of the 19th century, and many others, including Bernard Quaritch, learned the trade under his tutelage. This monster catalogue is now generally known as the "Guinea Catalogue," based on its original price. Item 55. Priced at €775 (euros, or approximately $1,110 in U.S. Dollars).

Edmund Curll was another major London bookseller, about a century before Bohn, but he did not carry the high reputation the latter possessed. He was, rather, a most dislikable fellow. His offenses were numerous, from publishing and selling pornography and trash, to publishing pirated versions of others' works, to selling fake medical cures in his bookshops. Curll was noted for starting controversies and then publishing both sides to sell more books. He did manage to spend some time in jail for publishing obscenities, and was the target of numerous lawsuits. His most famous battles came with the poet Alexander Pope, whose works Curll pirated and whose letters he published, including some Pope never wrote. Item 61 is one of Curll's catalogues from 1735, headed Books Printed for E. Curll, at Pope's Head In Rose-Street, Covent-Garden. A picture of "Mr. Pope" graces its cover. €1,050 (US $1,504).

So long as we are featuring the catalogues of scoundrels, item 107 is A Browning Library. A Catalogue of Printed Matter...Collected by Thomas James Wise. Published in 1929, a few years before his downfall, Wise was once a respected scholar, collector, and bibliographer. The problem was that Wise supplemented his income by producing fakes, and not just fake copies of known books, but faked copies of invented books by renown authors. So, while much of what he published was legitimate scholarship, one always has to watch out for mentions of his fakes. €350 (US $501).

Item 10 is the catalogue for an auction that never happened. It is the Catalogue des livres Du Cabinet De M. De Boze, published in Paris in 1753. The De Boze library, which included a 1462 Bible and 1457 and 1459 Psalters, was purchased en masse by two collectors who kept what they wanted and consigned the rest for sale the following year. €800 (US $1,146).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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>

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