Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

Literature, Travel & Exploration, Americana from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins103

Literature, travel and Americana from James Cummins, Bookseller.


By Michael Stillman

James Cummins Bookseller has issued a catalogue entitled Literature, Travel & Exploration, Americana. This is something of three catalogues in one, divided into the aforementioned three categories. We will not so attempt to divide this review, but will offer samples from each of the sections.

Item 42 is one of the greatest pieces of historical literature ever written, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon devoted much of his life to this one masterpiece, a six-volume account of Rome as it fell from the dominant power in the West to complete disintegration. Gibbon's detailed research led to his being called the first modern historian. Along with his compilation of facts, Gibbon providing penetrating, if sometimes controversial theories as to why Rome fell into decline. This first edition was published from 1776-1788. Priced at $22,500.

Item 15 is an account by naturalist John Burroughs of a trip with the caption title Our Vacation Days of 1918. It includes 74 mounted silver prints. Burroughs, the conservationist, took an automobile trip from Pittsburgh to the Allegheny and Appalachian mountains with two of America's most notable industrialists and perhaps its greatest inventor. His four companions were Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Harvey Firestone, Jr. Ford, Edison, and Firestone were evidently good friends as they had been photographed together on several occasions. Though the trip occurred in 1918, the album was not put together until at least 1921, as it is dedicated to the memory of Burroughs, who died in 1921. $2,500.

Item 99 is the first English edition of Alexander Esquemeling's (Exquemelin) Bucaniers of America (1684), bound with Basil Ringrose's Bucaniers of America. The Second Volume... (1685). The former is perhaps the best look at the Caribbean pirates of the 17th century. Though containing its share of inaccuracies, exaggerations, and fabrications, it still paints a good portrait of the life of a pirate. Esquemeling trained as a barber and surgeon (in those days, those two trades went together). However, neither trade was as profitable as it is today, so he signed on to be a pirate. From 1666-1678 he plied his new trade, most notably spending five years working for the infamous Henry Morgan. Morgan attacked Spanish shipping and outposts in America with extreme brutality from 1666-1671 before being knighted by the British crown and forced into retirement. $22,500.

Item 136 is a collection of plates with the cover title Hand Colored Views of the Grand Canyon of Arizona. It was created by restaurateur Fred Harvey. Harvey built a series of restaurants and hotels to serve Santa Fe and other railroad travelers. He then set about promoting the American Southwest to tourists as a means to bring in more customers to his establishments. $750.

Sven Heden was a Swedish explorer of Central Asia, a geographer, writer and illustrator. He wrote books on these explorations and many other topics. These were mostly published in Germany, so an interested American, a Mr. Young, ordered a copy of one of his titles in 1904 to be shipped directly to him. When it arrived, Mr. Young was surprised, or perhaps we should say appalled. He was charged $78.85 for shipping and $20 for customs. That was a lot of money in 1904, the equivalent of well over $1,000 today. Young whipped off a complaint to Heden about the outrageous charges. Item 102 is the explorer's response, and it was something less than sympathetic. He writes, "...this is not our fault, it is the fault of the American laws, and we have nothing whatever to do with it. At any rate, I cannot be responsible..." Heden then concludes, "When I get a subscriber I only give the order to the GLA but I have no time to give orders how every book should be sent... I have no time to lose in such nonsense as this correspondence...No sir, my time is too precious..." While Heden evidently had a healthy sense of self-worth, his customer services skills were wanting. $1,250.

James Cummins Bookseller may be reached at 212-688-6441 or cummins@panix.com. Their website is www.jamescumminsbookseller.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 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

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