Fine Books from James Cummins Bookseller
By Michael Stillman
James Cummins Bookseller has issued Catalogue 104. The catalogue has no other title as it, like many of Cummins' catalogues, does not have a specific topic. Instead, it contains varied items brought together by their significance and generally excellent condition. This is a catalogue for anyone who collects finer material, as whatever your subject matter of choice, it may well be found here.
Eight years after Charles Darwin published the book for which we all remember him, he released The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication. This is a long book that eventually leads to a second theory Darwin had, as he grappled with explaining the mechanism of the evolution whose existence he had shown through observation. With the limited tools available at that time, Darwin was forced to speculate, the ability to observe genes and DNA still being a long way off. Darwin came up with a theory called "pangenesis," where small particles which he called "gemmules" spread around the body, and were passed on to future generations. To Darwin, this explained not only the passing on of characteristics, but some animals' ability to regenerate limbs, and generation-skipping traits. Darwin was not so on-target with this theory, but again, he was working from an absence of observable data in trying to explain genetics in 1868. Item 34. Priced at $1,250.
Item 29 is a complete set of the most notable voyages of the 18th century - the three trips of Captain James Cook. Cook brought back an enormous number of discoveries from the Pacific, including mapping of much of previously almost unknown Australia, the discovery of Hawaii, and information about the North American Pacific Northwest, while laying to rest the theory of the existence of a massive southern continent. What Cook failed to bring back was himself, being killed by angry Hawaiian natives on his third and, naturally, final voyage. The set includes nine volumes, all three voyages represented by first editions. Published in 1773, 1777, and 1784. $75,000.
Item 82 is another complete set of first editions, but that is about all it has in common with Cook's voyages. These are A.A. Milne's four "Pooh" books, When We Were Very Young, Winnie the Pooh, Now We Are Six, and The House at Pooh Corner, published 1924-1928. These are exceptional copies of the children's classics that have lost none of their appeal eighty-something years later. $15,000.