Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2013 Issue

A Casual Tour through the Salon du Livre in Paris

The Salon du Livre.

Last April, I was officially invited to a “wonderful journey” and urged to “follow the footsteps of my ancestors”... To make it simple, I went to the Salon du Livre in Paris. Since 2007, it takes place every year at the prestigious Grand Palais, and has become the holy mass of bibliophilism in France as well as one of the most important book fairs in the world, gathering some 150 booksellers from all over. It is a showroom for books of exception such as the Missale Romanum...with embroidered plates that we already talked about (see The Curiosity Sale At Drouot article), a wonderful folio edition of Shakespeare’s works, dozens of Books of Hours, incunables and some extremely rare travel books. Out of a sea of wonders, I decided to pick up three particular items.

1 – La Bruyère, Les Caractères (Paris, 1688)

The bookseller from the French Moortmather’s bookshop came to life at once. “A special book? Yes - take this one.” He handed me an ordinary in-12 volume bound in full calf with a joyful smile. Unaware of its specific binding, I opened it – a 1688 edition of La Bruyère’s famous Les Caractères, in which the author describes the customs of his time through short, lively and dark sketches. An expert would have spotted the contemporary binding at once as “it is identical to those of most copies of the first edition” reads the catalogue of Moormather’s. But there’s something more about this particular one that justifies the consequent price asked for it (20,000 euros). “If you ask me,” said the bookseller, “La Bruyère was probably a real pain in the ass who kept on adding corrections to his work. For each of them, the printer had to reprint a full page before replacing it into every copy. That’s what we call “cartons”, and La Bruyère’s editions are very well-known for their numerous cartons.” Specialists have established two kind of Les Caractères’ copies : the first one features 418 sketches and 10 cartons. According to Tchemerzine, there are 5 known copies of the sort. The second one features 26 cartons. “Our copy features 23 cartons! triumphed the bookseller, which is quite uncommon. “Even more interesting,” he added, “our copy features a mistake corrected in the Tchemerzine’s copy! It makes it unique.” The catalogue of the book shop gives all the details regarding the cartons and the mistakes they are related to. It is incredible how deep book lovers can push their fury. An ordinary book thus reveals a complex riddle, a mysterious footstep left by our ancestors...

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.

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