• <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000
  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> NASA archive with 351 photographs, silver & chromogenic prints, 1960-2002. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Edward S. Curtis, suite of 18 cyanotypes, 1910-14. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Edward S. Curtis, <i>Horse Capture, Atsina,</i> unique copper plate for <i>The North American Indian,</i> 1908. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> John Whipple, <i>Harriet Beecher Stowe,</i> salted print from a calotype negative, 1853. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Lewis Carroll, <i>Xie Kitchen,</i> albumen print, circa 1872. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Ansel Adams, <i>Taos Pueblo,</i> limited, signed first edition of the artist's first book, 12 silver bromide prints, 1930. $30,000 to $45,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b><br>JFK in his motorcade about 2 mins before his assassination, chromogenic print, 1963. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Anton Guilio Bragaglia, 6 photomechanical postcards with facsimile signatures, 1911-13, printed 1932. $30,000 to $45,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Société Anonyme, Inc, group of 9 postcards, including 8 real photo postcards, 1920-30. $25,000 to $35,000.
  • <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> BELON. <i>L’Histoire de la nature des oyseaux.</i> Paris : Corrozet, 1555. $17,000 to $23,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> MIOMANDRE – BARBIER. <i>Dessins sur les danses de Vaslav Nijinsky.</i> Paris. 1913. $23,000 to $34,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> HOKUSAI. <i>Fugaku Hyakkei, Edo : Nishimura Yûzô.</i> 1834-1875. $58,000 to $80,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> EDWARDS. <i> <br>A Natural History of Uncommon Birds…</i> London : Printed for the Author. 1743-1764. $35,000 to $46,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> VESALIUS. <i><br> De Humane Corporis Fabrica libri septem...</i> Basle : J. Oporinus. 1555. $58,000 to $80,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2017 Issue

Book Review: Where Have All the Copies of Robert Burns' First Book Gone? Here is the Long Answer

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The Kilmarnock Burns. A Census.

In the summer of 1786, 27-year-old Robert Burns delivered his first set of poems to a local printer. Burns was the son of a farmer, one who saw little future for himself in his native Scotland. He planned to emigrate to Jamaica. He hoped that his book of poems might earn him enough money to pay the fare.

 

While unknown to the public, Burns had some local recognition among those who had seen manuscripts of his poems. Friend and lawyer Gavin Hamilton urged Burns to have a book of poems published. So began the career of Scotland's favorite son, with the printing of his first work, Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. The first edition ran off the press around the first of August of 1786.

 

Burns had 612 copies printed. That sounds ambitious for an unknown poet. It is reminiscent of the Bronte sisters, later renown as novelists, ambitiously publishing a book of poems jointly, their first work. They printed 1,000 copies and sold 2. Burns was not such a dreamer. He needed money to print them and so first rounded up a collection of subscribers. Finding 600 of them in Kilmarnock, Scotland sounds like an overwhelming challenge, but while Burns had no official benefactors, he had friends who were willing to buy up a whole lot of copies and resell them. By June of that year, Burns already had 350 subscriptions. Robert Aiken bought 145 copies, almost a quarter of the print run. Robert Muir bought 72, Burns' brother Gilbert 70. Gavin Hamilton ordered 40 copies. Just seven people purchased two-thirds of the copies. By August 28, only 13 copies remained, by September 6, all had sold out. The success was so great that by September, Burns was working on a second edition of 1,000 copies, and his plans to emigrate to Jamaica were canceled.

 

The year 1786 was a long time ago, 231 years to be exact. What has happened to those 612 copies of Burns' first book since? Most, undoubtedly, met their unfortunate fate years ago, but what about the survivors? Answering that question seems an unimaginably difficult task, and yet a book has just been published that takes on that enormously difficult challenge. It is thorough, detailed, and obviously a labor of great love. It is the work of a retired Scot living in Florida, Allan Young, who began the task in 2002, and Patrick Scott, an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, home of a major Burns collection. If you are a collector of Burns, someone who admires his work, or just someone who loves a good mystery, you will be completely fascinated by this book of detective nonfiction.

 

The authors have used every tool of searching to locate surviving copies, not just those in institutional libraries, but those hidden away in private collections. Often, this has required looking back at old records, such as long ago auction listings and old newspaper articles, to trace where they have gone. The authors traveled all around England and North America to view surviving copies, so as to be able to match them up with copies described somewhere perhaps over a century ago. The result is an amazingly thorough description of every copy publicly known to exist, along with information on a few other copies which almost certainly remain in the hands of some quiet, unknown collector.

 

As of 1996, Ross Roy, in writing about an exhibition on the 200th anniversary of Burns' death, estimated fewer than 70 copies survived. By 2009, Young had located 71 of them. As of this writing, that number has increased to 84. The authors estimated there could be as many as 25-30 more copies still extant, based on old auction and other descriptions of copies which likely still survive but whose whereabouts they have not yet been able to determine. Their book is entitled The Kilmarnock Burns: A Census, and Young and Scott have divided it into three sections – a census of institutionally held copies, where they were able to gather and include detailed information about location, condition, and identifying aspects of each of these 69 copies, a private ownership census of 15 copies, where information is mostly more spotty and several owners have wished to remain unidentified, and a chronological order report of all information they have located about copies, both those in known collections and those that are lost or whose whereabouts is unknown. Among the last group, there is information dating from April 1786, a listing of early subscribers, up to the current year.

 

The majority of the copies, 48, turned up in the United States. Twenty-five still remain in Scotland. Another 6 were in other parts of the U.K., 3 in Canada, one in Australia, and only one in a non-English speaking country, Switzerland. Only four still have original wraps, and of these, two are bound in and in one they were used under a marbled cover. There is one copy of unbound, uncut, folded sheets. Twenty-five have early bindings, most are in later fine bindings. It was thought that would make them more valuable. That was a mistake.

 

Among the many anecdotes about these copies, here are a few we found particularly interesting. A private collector in Scotland owns a copy once belonging to Gavin Hamilton, likely his personal copy rather than one he resold. On the page dedicating the book to him, Hamilton has written his name. It also contains two manuscript poems in Burns' hand bound in. Sadly, the top half inch of the title page has been sliced off. It likely once held an inscription. It was still in its original wrappers in 1850 when an Edinburgh bookseller had it rebound. According to the owner, "It is in wonderful condition."

 

Compare that to the copy at Balliol College, Oxford. The description of this copy reveals, "the text is grubby, showing evidence of a lot of reading throughout... The bottom left hand corners of openings are particularly dirty, presumably from grubby thumbs, and there are smudged fingerprints. Some pages have spill marks on them..." It could be worse. The Dunfermline Carnegie Library copy is missing the first 48 pages. It was being used by a barber to sharpen his razor, ripping out pages one at a time, when it was rescued by a traveling salesman.

 

Harvard University has a copy that once belonged to Harry Elkins Widener. Widener was a noted bibliophile, the son of U.S. Steel and American Tobacco wealth. However, it was given to Harvard by his mother, not Harry. Harry Widener went down with the Titanic, just 27 years of age.

 

One of the British Library copies was once in the library of bibliographer Thomas Wise. Wise was the master forger, who not only copied existing books, but created pre-first edition ("true first edition") copies. We will presume the British Library examined this copy carefully for authenticity.

 

One of the National Library of Scotland copies actually came from America, or at least back from America. It was part of the collection of Robert Hoe. He was a major manufacturer of printing presses in the 19th century and his sale in 1910-11 was by far the largest auction sale in American history up to that point.

 

The Florida State University copy comes from one of the luckiest book collectors of all time. It's all about timing. To the rest of the world, Jerome Kern is known as a songwriter, writing Ol' Man River and other classics. To bibliophiles, he is known for his immaculately well-timed auction. He sold his collection for staggering prices in 1929, at what would be the top of the market for several decades. Shortly thereafter came the stock market crash, and then the Great Depression, and the value of books, like most everything else, plummeted.

 

The Kirkcaldy Library copy was the gift of the daughter of John Nairn. Nairn is not well-known outside of Scotland, but he was one of the land's most successful businessmen. He didn't invent it, but made a fortune manufacturing linoleum. If your old house has linoleum floors, it may have helped purchase this copy.

 

The Lilly Library has one of only five copies with uncut leaves. It was sold by the estate of Frank Bemis to legendary bookseller Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach, who in turn sold to to Josiah Lilly. Lilly left it to the Lilly Library at Indiana University. Later, it was determined that this apparently perfect copy was made up of sheets taken from multiple copies. Whether one of these owners, or a previous one compiled the copy is unknown. Mr. Lilly would not appear to be the culprit since it is unlikely he would have purchased a defective copy.

 

The University of South Carolina copy was once owned by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Cherry-Garrard was the Antarctic explorer who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott on his ill-fated attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. He not only finished second, but died in terrible weather trying to make it back to the ship. Cherry-Garrard, fortunately, did not accompany Scott to the Pole, but barely survived a side journey that took the lives of his companions. He wrote about it in The Worst Journey in the World.

 

And then, there is one copy in the hands of a bookseller, Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller. If you would like a copy, this one is still available. It is described as a "fine copy" and is available for the price of $85,000. Incomplete copies come up occasionally at auction for not notably high prices, but a complete copy in fine condition is highly valuable.

 

Burns collectors will be fascinated by this book, but it is a great read for all who like old books and find a where-is-it-now mystery exciting. A copy may be purchased from Amazon through this link: click here. If you are aware of any missing copies, or otherwise need to contact the author, Patrick Scott may be reached at scottp@mailbox.sc.edu.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b><br>Die Französische Expedition gegen Mexico /Beilagen zum Beiheft des Militair - Wochenblattes
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b><br>The Architecture Of M. Vitruvius Pollio. London, 1791.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Estatuto Provisional del Imperio Mexicano. México: Imprenta de Andrade y Escalante, 1865.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Historia de Méjico... México, 1849 - 1852.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Juárez, Benito - Ogazón, Pedro. Legajos de Bandos del Estado de Guadalajara, 1860-1863.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Sigüenza y Góngora, Carlos. Mapa de las Aguas que por el Círculo de 90 Leguas Vienen a la Laguna de Tescuco... Méx, 1748.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Cruces y Campa / Aubert / Valleto. Pareja Imperial, Fusilamiento de Maximiliano, Tipos Mexicanos... ca,1875.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000

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