Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2017 Issue

Exploring the World and Collecting Books

Material coming to auction in Christies' sale of The Martin Greene Library

Editor's Note: On December 7, Christie's will host a sale of Russian America & Polar Exploration: Highlights from the Martin Greene Library. The following is an introduction written by the collector, Mr. Greene.

 

Reading, traveling and collecting books – great hobbies that have filled empty hours and enriched my life. What a privilege it was in 1998 to go with legendary book dealer Bill Reese to the Beinecke Library at Yale to collate four copies of the Sarychev 1802 texts and plate books, two belonging to the library and two of ours. I could not understand why The Library of Congress listed 56 plates, which, if true, meant that all the copies we had were defective. This question sent me on trips to the Library of Congress and to many libraries in the USA and Russia to look at 15 other known copies of this rare work. Sure enough, the Library of Congress copy was the “defective” one, with six plates from another book added to the 50 plates from the Sarychev.

 

My parents’ families came to the USA from Russia in the 1890s, settling in Nebraska and Minnesota. By age 16 I had visited all 48 of the United States, later adding Alaska and Hawaii to the list (admitted as states in 1959). After moving to Seattle in 1969, I visited Alaska many times, climbing mountains and collecting more books. Visits to Sitka, former home of the Russian-American Company, to Fairbanks to see the wonderful collections at the University of Alaska Rasmuson Library, and climbing Mount McKinley (Denali) and other mountains were highlights of my life.

 

In London, in June of 1999, I waited in the queue for the opening of the Olympia Book Fair and went immediately to Reg and Philip Remington’s booth. Philip asked if I would be interested in a Kruzenshtern atlas that had come into their shop the day before. The answer, of course, was a very definite “yes,” and I sat down and spent the next two hours with this incredible set. In time, other dealers wandered by, and soon the whole room became a-twitter that there was a Kruzenshtern atlas at the fair. But I did not let it out of my hands until I confirmed with Philip that I would indeed purchase it. What a find! No other copy of this work has been on the market, to my knowledge, since that memorable day.

 

An enjoyable aspect of collecting for me was that I could make my own rules. I decided to collect books on Greenland, but not on Iceland. With our Russian background, and with two children and a granddaughter who spoke Russian to assist me, I set a goal to acquire the 161 titles in Valerian Lada-Mocarski’s Bibliography of Books on Alaska published before 1868 (New Haven and London: 1969).

 

Lada-Mocarski included books which he considered most important in telling the story of the exploration and settlement of Russian-America before the U.S. purchase of Alaska in 1867. His own collection was sold in 1971 by San Francisco book dealer Warren Howell to Elmer Rasmuson of Alaska. I believe the present sale includes the most extensive privately held collection of Lada-Mocarski titles (135 lots representing 98 of the 161 Lada-Mocarski entries) since that author’s own collection was described and sold nearly 50 years ago.

 

The search for these rarities has been exciting, educational, and a lot of fun. I thank my book dealer friends and the sellers at auctions for helping me along this road. The story of the 1844 Sherman edition of Wilkes’s Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 (lot 295) is fascinating. Apparently, a book scout found this set in a pile of books scheduled for deaccession by the State Library of Iowa in Des Moines. He called Greg Gibson in Massachusetts, who then called me. The bindings needed work but apparently the books had never been opened by the good people of Iowa. All the tissue guards were present and the pages had virtually no wear or foxing. Only one other set, the one belonging to Wilkes himself, has ever come on the auction market. The remaining 71 copies (after an early fire destroyed 27 of the original 100 printed) were given to States or foreign governments, and are very difficult for collectors to obtain. I was very lucky indeed.

 

For this auction, we selected titles that I would like to be in the hands of other collectors. They tell the stories of some great explorations – of Alaska, important Pacific Voyages to America, the Northwest and Northeast Passages, the search for Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition, and of Arctic and Antarctic explorations. I smile when I look at these books, and I will smile when I think of others enjoying them in their collections.

 

Martin L. Greene
Seattle, WA, USA.
December 2017

Rare Book Monthly

  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.

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