• <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>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> [MAGGIOLO, Vesconte] <i>Carta nautica manoscritta, bottega di Vesconte Maggiolo.</i> Italy, c.1550. Previously unknown extraordinary portolan chart. €50,000 to 80,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b><br>LA PÉROUSE, Jean-François. <i>Voyage de la Pérouse autour du monde.</i> Paris: L'Imprimerie de la République, 1797. €6,000 to 9,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> PEREA Y ROJAS, Daniel. The preparatory watercolours to the renown album <i>A Los Toros.</i> €4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> MELA, Pomponio. <i>Cosmographia, sive De situ orbis.</i> Venice, 1478 [Bound with] DIONISIO il Periegeta. <i> De situ orbis…</i> Venice, 1478. €6,000 to 9,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> DE FELICE, Fortunato Bartolomeo. <i>Encyclopedie, ou dictionnaire universel raisonne des connoissances humaines.</i> Yverdon, 1770-1780. €4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> VECELLIO, Cesare. <i>De gli habiti antichi et moderni di diverse parti del mondo.</i> Venice: Damian Zenaro, 1590. €3,000 to 5,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> FALDA, Giovanni Battista; SPECCHI, Alessandro. <i>Il nuovo teatro delle fabriche…</i> [bound with] <i>ll quarto libro del nuovo teatro delli palazzi in prospettiva di Roma moderna.</i> 1665-1699. €4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> FALDA Giovan Battista. <i>Le fontane di Roma nelle piazze e luoghi pubblici della citta - Le fontane delle ville di Frascati nel Tusculano…</i> Rome, [1691]. €2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> FERRERIO, Pietro & Giovanni Battista FALDA. <i> Palazzi di Roma de piu celebri architetti disegnati… [1655 – 1677]. €2,500 to 3,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> VON JACQUIN, Joseph Franz. <i>Eclogae graminum rariorum.</i> Vienna: Strauss Sommer, 1813-1844. €2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> Prayer book according to the synagogical Ashkenazy rite in an elegant and precious silver binding. €3,000 to 5,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> BOCCACCIO, Giovanni. <i>Ameto.</i> Venice: Nicolo Zoppino, 1524. €3,000 to 5,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Leonard Baskin, <i>Diptera: A Book of Flies & Other Insects,</i> Gehenna Press, 1983. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georg Heym, <i>Umbra Vitae,</i> illustrated by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, first edition, Munich, 1924. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Edgar Allan Poe, <i>The Raven,</i> special copy for illustrator Alan James Robinson, first book from Cheloniidae Press, 1980. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b><br>W.B. Yeats, <i>Poems,</i> illustrated by Richard Diebenkorn, accompanied by a suite of 6 etchings, 1990. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georges Rouault, <i>Cirque de l’Étoile Filante,</i> Paris, 1938. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> François-Louis Schmied, <i>Le Cantique des Cantiques,</i> Paris, 1925. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Frank Lloyd Wright, <i>Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe,</i> Berlin, Ernst Wasmuth, 1910. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Hans Bellmer & Georges Hugnet, <i>Oeillades ciselées en branch,</i> Paris, 1939. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Wassily Kandinsky, <i>Klänge,</i> first edition, Munich, 1913. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Charles Dickens, <i>The Nonesuch Dickens,</i> limited edition, 1937-38. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Rudyard Kipling, <i>Le Livre de la Jungle,</i> plates by Paul Jouve, engraved by F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1919. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Les Choses de Paul Poiret,</i> Paris, 1911. $3,500 to $5,000.
  • <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Kingsborough, Edward King. <i>Antiquities of Mexico: Comprising Facsimiles of Ancient Mexican Paintings and Hieroglyphics…</i> London, 1831-1848. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Paul Revere. <i>The Bloody Massacre perpetrated In King-Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Reg. Boston, 1770.</i> $150,000 to $200,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Battle of the Alamo. <i>Suplemento al Diario del Gobierno de la Republica Mexicana.</i> (Núm. 326. Tom. IV.). Mexico City: Imprenta del Aguila, Dirigida por José Ximeno, 1836. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> The Declaration of Independence. The first book-form printing of the Declaration of Independence. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Treaty of Paris, Ratification. By the United States in Congress Assembled, A Proclamation … Annapolis, [Ca. 16-17 January 1784]. $800,000 to $1,200,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Declaration of Independence. The only known privately held copy of the celebrated William J. Stone facsimile for which provenance can be traced back to a direct ancestor who received it in 1824. $600,000 to $800,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Crockett, David. Autograph letter signed ("David Crockett") to George Patton, announcing his intention to travel to Texas. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Wytfliet, Cornelius. <i>Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum, Sive Occidentalis Notitia Brevi Commentario Illustrata.</i> Leuven: Johannes Bogaerts 1597. $35,000 to $50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Schedel, Hartmann. <i>Liber Cronicarum cum Figuris et Ymaginibus.</i> Nuremberg, Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 12 July 1493. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> New York Mets. Baseball from the first victory of the New York Mets. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph letter signed ("R E Lee") as Confederate commander, to Rabbi Max Michelbacher, declining to furlough Jewish Confederate troops for the high holy days. $150,000 to $250,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2019 Issue

A Greek Monastery Battles Princeton University for Some Very Old Manuscripts

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St. John Climacus' Heavenly Ladder from 1081 (Princeton University Press photo).

"Possession is nine-tenths of the law" is one of those old idioms that may need updating, at least in the books and manuscripts field. In recent years, it has been more common to look at old transfers of possession to see if they were legally accomplished. If an item was stolen, even many years ago, title never transferred, meaning the original owner (or their heirs) still owns the property. They have a right to reclaim it, without paying anything for it. If the alleged theft or illegal transfer was recent, it usually can be readily determined who is the rightful owner. What if the transfer happened a century or more ago, under uncertain circumstances, with no living witnesses to be found? Now it gets murky.

 

Princeton University was sued last month by a monastery in rural Greece. The suit is based on a claim a century old. Princeton disagrees. Here is the story, as alleged by the Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa Monastery, along with the Holy Metropolis of Drama and Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople. That's a mighty troika, but then again, so is Princeton strong, and the university gets to play on its home field, the Federal District Court of New Jersey.

 

At issue are four manuscripts. They are dated to 955, 1081, and the "new" one, the 16th century. The monastery is even older, dating to the 5th century. The plaintiffs argue that the manuscripts were housed in the monastery library for "centuries." However, on March 27, 1917, in the midst of the First World War, they allege, "Bulgarian forces stormed the Monastery and stole the most valuable manuscripts of the Monastery's library, including the Manuscripts at issue here." They continue, the manuscripts were taken to the Bulgarian capitol city of Sophia. Within a few years, these and other stolen manuscripts, they say, made their way to dealers and auction houses across central Europe.

 

In 1921, the 16th century manuscript was sold by Baer Auction House. The purchaser was Princeton University. In 1924, the other three were purchased by Robert Garrett, a collector of antiquarian manuscripts and a trustee of Princeton University (he also won the discus and shot put competition at the 1896 Olympics in Athens). He gave them to Princeton in 1942.

 

The Eastern Orthodox Church has made several claims for old manuscripts they believe were taken illegally in recent years. Sometimes, the holders of such material agree the claims are justified and voluntarily turn them over. Duke University and the Getty Museum have returned manuscripts in recent years. However, more often, the holders believe their possession is legal.

 

In what is the ultimate case of "gotcha," the Monastery cites the publication Greek Manuscripts at Princeton, Sixth to Nineteenth Century A Descriptive Catalogue, by Sofia Kotzabassi and Nancy Patterson Sevcenko, published by the Princeton University Press in 2010. That catalogue notes that the 1081 manuscript was described in the Kerameus Catalogue as being in the monastery's library in 1885. It then goes on to say, "In 1917 it was removed from the monastery by the Bulgarian authorities and presumably taken to Sofia." The Princeton catalogue concludes its discussion of provenance by noting it showed up in Joseph Baer's catalogues in 1920-21, and was purchased in 1924 on behalf of Robert Garrett by bookseller Wilfrid Voynich (he of Voynich manuscript fame). In the case of the 16th century manuscript, the Princeton Catalogue states that it was written at the Eikosiphoinissa Monastery where it remained until 1917, next showing up in the 1920-21 Baer catalogue, and sold that year to Princeton University.

 

To further its claim that the manuscripts were stolen by the Bulgarian troops, the Monastery also alleges, "On March 27, 1917, Bulgarian troops stormed the Monastery, assaulted the resident monks, and stole, among other things, the most valuable manuscripts of its library, including the Manuscripts. The theft is recounted in a letter dated March 31, 1917 - four days after the theft - and written by the Mayor of Drama to the Greek Foreign Affairs Delegation of Sofia, Bulgaria. A copy of the letter [was] published in Rapports et Enquetes de la Commission Interalliee Sur Les Violations Du Droit Des Gens Commises En Macedoine Orinetale."

 

Of course, this is the Monastery's side of the story. We don't yet know Princeton's position. They have made no official statement pertaining to the lawsuit. However, it has been reported that university spokesman Michael Hotchkiss issued an email statement, that "based on the information available to us, we have found no basis to conclude that the manuscripts in our possession were looted during World War I or otherwise improperly removed from the possession of the Patriarchate."

 

We don't yet know to what sort of "information" Princeton is referring. Perhaps they believe the monastery was not "stormed," or the manuscripts "stole[n]." Maybe they are simply referring to what they consider insufficient confirming evidence of the Monastery's claim. We do not know. Possession does matter, and right now, Princeton has possession. However, to say it represents 9/10ths of the law anymore seems a bit optimistic. I don't know who will win this case, but possession is no longer a guarantee.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000
  • <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Fine Illustrated Books. 50 illustrated works across a range of subjects.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Present Perfect. Books & works on paper including Literature, Children’s & Illustrated, Sports & Pastimes, Modern Prints and more.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> The House of Romanov, marking the centenary of the tragic demise of the Romanov dynasty.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> CHAGALL & GOGOL. Les âmes mortes, 1948. Chagall’s first major illustrated book.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> GUSTAV KLIMT, eine nachlese, 1931. An important early monograph on Klimt.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> ELLIOT. Birds of North America, 1866. One of 200 2 vols sets, folio.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> PURCHAS. His Pilgrimes/Pilgrimage, 1625-26. 5 vols. Probably the greatest collection of voyages ever published.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> HUXLEY. Brave New World, 1932. Exceptionally fine first edition.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> KELMSCOTT PRESS. Poems of Shakespeare, one of 500, publisher’s vellum.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> LEROUX. Phantom of the Opera, 1911. First UK edition in fine S&S binding.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> INDIANA, Robert. The American Dream, one of 30 AP copies, 30 screen prints.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> BENOIS. Tsarskoe Selo during the Reign of Elizaveta Petrovna, St Petersburg, 1910. Deluxe issue.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> CORONATION ALBUM. Description du sacre et du couronnement de leurs Majestés Impériales, 1883. One of 200.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> IMPERIAL FAMILY. Signed original photograph of Tsar Nicholas II’s 4 daughters.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Souvenir du Couronnement de Leurs Majestés Imperiales a Moscou, 1896.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books & Works on Paper. January 23, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Rossini (Luigi, artist & engraver). <i>Le Antichità Romane, ossia Raccolta della piu interessanti Vedute di Roma Antica,</i> 89 plates. £2500 to £3500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Four original hand-painted propaganda posters, (550 x 770 mm.), North Korea, 2009. £1200 to £1800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Plinius Secundus (Gaius). <i>Historia Natural,</i> 2 vol, Spanish translation, woodcut arms of Philip IV of Spain, Madrid, 1624; 1629 £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Nasmyth (James) & Carpenter (James). <i>The Moon,</i> FIRST EDITION, frontispiece and 24 plates, 1874. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books & Works on Paper. January 23, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> A group (12) of large size Chinese Cultural Revolution papercuts on red paper presented on white paper backing, featuring various slogans and images of General Mao. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Coronelli (V. M.). <i>Tran-Siselana,</i> copper engraved, hand-coloured, title cartouche with four winds and four monkeys, coat of arms, Venice, c.1692; and 8 others. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Pouchkine (Alexandre). <i>Contes populaires Russes… traduits … par Alexandra de Holstein et René Ghil,</i> FIRST EDITION, n. 165 of an edition of 270 copies. £400 to £600

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