Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2010 Issue

Outstanding Items from Peter Harrington Antiquarian Bookseller

Harrington69

Peter Harrington offers a selection of important works.


By Michael Stillman

This month we review our first catalogue from Peter Harrington Antiquarian Bookseller of London. For Harrington, this is Catalogue 69. Peter Harrington needs little introduction to those familiar with the rare book trade, but we will provide a brief one anyway. Mr. Harrington began selling books in 1969 at the Chelsea Antiques Market, moving to their current Fulham Road location in London's Chelsea area in 1997. Peter Harrington died in 2003, but the firm continues under the management of his son, Pom Harrington. Harrington trades in the upper tier of books in numerous subject areas. Among those they have handled was a first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses, which recently sold for the highest price ever for a 20th century first edition ($442,900), the publisher's copy and first copy bound of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, a Shakespeare first folio, and recently purchased a first edition of Champlain's Les Voyages, the most expensive item sold at the recent de Orbe Novo (Bruce McKinney) sale ($758,000). Here are a few of the special items being offered in this latest Harrington catalogue.

James Joyce published his book of poetry, Chamber Music, as an unknown writer in 1907. When the printing was complete, Joyce remained an unknown writer. His later novels would lead many to consider Joyce the greatest writer of the 20th century, but this work, though achieving some critical approval, hardly rose to that level. Rather, it is a collection of love poems that were decent, but not revolutionary as his later works would be. Nonetheless, it does provide a portrait of the writer as a young man. The print run for this book was 509, but only around 200 were compiled in this first issue. A recording was made of the poems in this book set to music by various modern musicians just last year, and it seems to have been received similarly to the text version a century ago - some modest critical recognition and not a whole lot of sales. Item 103. Priced at £6,500 (British pounds, or about U.S. $9,728).

Item 5 is a copy of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, the first published edition from 1866 (Carroll demanded the first printed edition be recalled because of quality problems). It comes with a letter from the author, presumably to Edith Mary Alice Berkeley, which is filled with Carroll's humor. He jokingly chides her for failing to provide the full name of a friend so he could send her a copy of the book. He jokes that anyone else guilty of such conduct "would have been shut up in a prison, or in a lunatic asylum, or, worse still, in a young ladies' school." He then asks what good are young ladies if they don't make themselves useful. "Far better have a set of really useful fire-screens, or wheel-barrows." He has signed the letter as "Lewis Carroll," rather than his real name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, or his commonly used "the author." £45,000 (US $67,302).

Item 118 was the first account of one of the most important journeys of the age of discovery: Journal of the Resolution's Voyage, in 1772...1775. The author was anonymous but is now known to be John Marra, a gunner's mate whose writing skills probably required some serious help from an editor. Marra violated the rules by publishing his account in 1775, prior to the release of the official report by the mission's leader, Captain James Cook. The voyage of the Resolution is best known for being the first to penetrate the Antarctic Circle, and disprove the then widely held belief that the region was covered by an enormous southern continent. Marra's account also provides some interesting information left out of the official version, including the reason why naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, who had participated in Cook's first journey, bowed out of this one at the last minute. £9,750 (US $14,658).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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