Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2010 Issue

The History of Ideas from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books

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New acquisitions in the History of Ideas from Rudi Thoemmes.


By Michael Stillman

Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books has issued a catalogue of new acquisitions in the History of Ideas. This is a catalogue filled with erudite thoughts, from great philosophers like Kant and similarly abstruse thinkers, to those in science, mathematics and the like. However, "ideas" is not necessarily synonymous with "good ideas," so there are a few strange works included to provide balance. So, put on your thinking cap and take a look inside.

Item 6 is a pair of works from Rene Descartes bound together: a first edition of Principia Philosophiae (1644) and the Latin translation of Discourse de la Methode (1637). The latter was the first appearance of the words for which Descartes is best remembered - "cogito, ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am). Descartes was a philosopher, scientist and mathematician. He influenced virtually everyone in each of those fields who followed him, though his reliance on rationalism became dated in the years that followed. Priced at £8,000 (British pounds, or approximately U.S. $12,298).

Item 40 is the first book from Bertrand Russell, who would continue writing for almost another three-quarters of a century. Russell is known for two focuses in his life, philosophy and politics. His writings on logic and philosophical topics were the basis of his great reputation in academia, but his political views perhaps made him more of a household name, albeit controversial. He probably offended just about everyone at some time or another, his 97-year lifetime giving him plenty of opportunities to upset people. Mostly, he was on the left, and this first book, a collection of lectures given in Germany, came in reaction to oppression by that nation: German Social Democracy. Six lectures, published in 1896. £550 (US $845).

Item 33 is a German translation of the first three (of six) volumes of James Burnett, aka Lord Monboddo's Of the Origin and Progress of Language (Des Lord Monboddo Werk... in German), published 1784-85. Monboddo was an eccentric Scottish judge who studied comparative linguistics. Thoemmes notes that Monboddo is known primarily for one thought - that orangutans were some sort of uncorrupted, speechless humans. Actually, he was noted for another belief he later abandoned, for which he was subject to ridicule, that men once had tails. However, for all his strangeness, some now recognize Monboddo as one of the earliest evolutionists. He saw humans developing greater abilities as language evolved from simple to complex, and theorized that human ancestors were more ape-like (though he did not connect humans/apes with other species). We do not know whether Charles Darwin was familiar with Monboddo, but his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who had his own evolutionary theories long before Charles and was influential in the latter's thought, admired Monboddo. And unlike Erasmus, Monboddo's theories were closer to the mechanism of natural selection than those of Erasmus. £2,000 (US $3,074).

We appear to be in a period of great anti-government agitation, but most of it merely seems to be one side or the other promoting government intrusion to support its interests, not true opposition to government involvement. Max Stirner, real name Johann Kaspar Schmidt, truly believed there should be no government involvement in people's lives. Item 46 is his Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum (the Ego and Its Own), published in Leipzig in 1845. Stirner was an anarchist, rejecting the state and its laws. The government, he believed, had no responsibility for the members of society. Those people, he believed, would form "associations of egoists" to promote their self interest, but only to the extent it served those personal interests. The result was that Stirner opposed government interference even in the area where today's "anti-government" activists support unlimited intervention, to preserve private property. To Stirner, property belonged to whoever was strong enough to take it through his own power - "Whoever knows how to take, to defend, the thing, to him belongs property." £1,250 (US $1,932).

Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)117 902 8546. Their website is found at www.rrbltd.com.

You will find many of Rudi Thoemmes' books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

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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