• Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Finarte, July 4-5: FERMI, ENRICO. Letters, 1923. €30,000 to €40,000.
    Finarte, July 4-5: ALIGHIERI, DANTE. The comedy, 1477. €45,000 to €50,000.
    Finarte, July 4-5: ALIGHIERI, DANTE. The Comedy [Commentary by Christophorus Landinus]. Addition: Marsilius Ficinus, Ad Dantem gratulatio [in Latin and Italian], 1487. €40,000 to €60,000.
    Finarte, July 4-5: ASTRONOMIA - CALENDARIO - REGIOMONTANUS, JOHANNES (MÜLLER, JOHANN, OF KÖNIGSBERG) Kalendarium, 1483. €5,000 to €7,000.
    Finarte, July 4-5: CATERINA II DI RUSSIA, Parchment diploma granted by Catherine II of Russia, 1778. €15,000 to €20,000.
    Finarte, July 4-5: VICO, GIAMBATTISTA New Science Principles, 1725.
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2019 Issue

A Lighter Touch, Eight Vintage Fun Reads

BARNABY and his fairy-godfather Mr. O’Malley, published in 1943, is one of eight vintage American humor titles recommended to keep you laughing through these grim times.

Suicide, depression, anxiety, tornadoes, homelessness, hurricanes, tidal waves, impeachment, climate change, corruption and an unending litany of bad news 24/7. Yes my fellow book people, it’s scary and dangerous out there, with seemingly no end in sight. Though there are no fast or easy solutions to our increasingly grim national landscape, I guarantee it will help (if only for a little while) to lighten up. To that end, here are eight titles - short and long, but mostly vintage, that have made me laugh, not once but many times. Though in places some of the language has become politically incorrect, the humor is still as refreshing as ever.

 

  1. (1895) Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses aka Cooper’s Indians by Mark Twain

If you were ever force fed James Fenimore Cooper in high school you’ll want to read this satirical essay by Mark Twain. The great American humorist pokes fun at Cooper’s prose style, incongruities and pretensions. Twain writes: The rules of discourse require “that when a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven- dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a minstrel in the end of it. But this rule is flung down and danced upon in the "Deerslayer" tale.” Matters not if you’ve read Cooper or ever plan to read him, Twain will make you laugh.

Full text online twain.lib.virginia.edu/projects/rissetto/offense.html but better to read it in hard copy.

 

  1. (1905) Pigs is Pigs by Ellis Parker Butler

Like most of the books on this list I first read Pigs is Pigs when my Dad handed me a little hard back copy - and though it looked old and dated, it has remained as fresh and funny.

This is the story of a freight agent and a customer who argue over whether guinea pigs are barnyard animals or domestic pets and which freight rate they should pay.

Here’s the agent expounding his position to the customer: “Pigs is pigs,” he declared firmly. ‘Guinea-pigs, or Irish pigs is all the same to the Interurban Express Company an' to Mike Flannery. Th' nationality of the pig creates no differentiality in the rate, Misther Morehouse! 'Twould be the same was they Dutch pigs or Rooshun pigs. Mike Flannery,” he added, “is here to tind to the expriss business and not to hould conversation wid pigs in sivinteen languages fer to discover be they Chinese or Tipperary by birth an' nativity.”

Both sides hold firm to their position and as time passes the guinea pig population at the freight station explodes. When at last the higher ups reach a decision and it’s time to deliver the animals they have multiplied mightily:

Wan wagonload more an, I'll be quit of thim, an' niver will ye catch Flannery wid no more foreign pigs on his hands. No, sur! They near was the death o' me. Nixt toime I'll know that pigs of whaiver nationality is domistic pets—an' go at the lowest rate.”

Online text www.gutenberg.org/files/2004/2004-h/2004-h.htm

  1. (1937) Education of Hyman Kaplan, by Leo Rosten, Harcourt Brace

In this collection of short stories about a NYC night school class for immigrants we meet teacher Parkhill and his brilliant, devious and megalomanic student H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N. Kaplan, whose native tongue appears to be Yiddish, has his own unique ideas of how to speak read and write English.

As Parkhill describes him: “Mr. Kaplan’s English showed no improvement during the next hard weeks. The originality of his spelling and pronunciation, however flourished...a man to whom “Katz” is the plural of “cat” soon soars into higher and more ambitious endeavor. As a one paragraph “Exercise in Composition,” Mr. Kaplan submitted: ‘“When people is meating on the boulvard, on going away one is saying, “I am glad I mat you,”’and the other is giving answer, “Mutual.”

The accents may have changed but the misunderstandings and rivalries among transplants are still hilarious. There are lots of inexpensive copies around in both hard cover and paperback. The author wrote a second volume, The Return of H*Y*M*A*N   K*A*P*L*A*N, but it’s not as good.  

 

4. (1941) Hotel Splendide by Ludwig Bemelmans, Viking

Ludwig Bemelmans is best known for his Madeline books; but the one I like best is Hotel Splendide. It’s a thinly disguised series of personal memoirs from Bemelmans’ years behind the scenes at the luxury Ritz Hotel in NYC. These are gentle and uniformly funny observations on the comings and goings of the high and mighty from the vantage point of the waiters, and kitchen staff. My favorite story is titled Night in Granada, about a rich and difficult patron who orders a huge cake to be delivered to her via gondola at a sumptuous party, and what happens when the cake falls into the lagoon.

 

           5. (1943) Barnaby (and Mr. O’Malley) by Crockett Johnson, Henry Holt

What, you never heard of Barnaby or his fairy-godfather, Mr. O’Malley? You are definitely missing out on one of the more elegant and convincingly funny comic strips of the mid-20th century. Mr. O’Malley is short, hatted, paunchy and winged. He flies and smokes cigars. A member of the Little Mens Marching & Chowder Society he frequently pauses to exclaim “Cushlamochree!” Barnaby plays straight man to O’Malley, a tongue-in-cheek top banana with a penchant for showing up at improbable times. Each appearance wreaks havoc in the life of young boy and his unbelieving parents, who dismiss the winged one as an “imaginary friend.” For a taste of Crockett Johnson online try ”Notes on the Origins of Barnaby” as it appeared in Comics Journal in April 2013. www.tcj.com/crockett-johnson-and-the-invention-of-barnaby/

 

        6. (1941) Subtreasury of American Humor edited by EB White & Katharine S. White

This is a fat funny anthology of vintage humor; inside you’ll find Cooper’s Indians and parts of Hyman Kaplan, along with dozens of other selections from the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. Both editors were long-time contributors of The New Yorker, and the collection is sometimes termed as "the New Yorker school of American Humor." Though some of the selections have dated, most have not. There are hundreds of copies to pick from offered online in both hardback and paperback, some for as little as $1. A great book for browsing and rediscovering American humorists of an earlier era.

          7. (1950) All the Ships at Sea by William J. Lederer, William Sloane

My Dad was friends with author Lederer from their days in the Philippines, and I can’t remember a time this book wasn’t in our house or in my own personal library. These are humorous stories about life in the US Navy, all of them sprinkled with funny bits and classic USN personalities from the overbearing captain to the zealous draftee who wants to go to Annapolis. Lederer’s sequel, Ensign O’Toole and Me, is entertaining but not quite as good. Plenty of inexpensive copies offered as paperbacks.

          

         8. (1991) Frank De Lima’s Joke Book by Frank De Lima, Bess Press

Out here in the Aloha State Frank De Lima is still cracking us up. Most of what’s in this joke book would be considered politically incorrect, even the subtitle, “Having fun with Portagees, Pakes, Buddha Heads, Buk Buks, Blallahs, Soles, Yoos, Haoles, Tidas, Pit bulls and other Hawaiian minorities” probably wouldn’t make it past the 21st century copy editor. Not withstanding such tender sensibilities Frank De Lima is a funny man who has been making the people of Hawaii laugh for more than 30 years. Here’s a sample: “Did you hear about the man who was half Italian and half Portagee? He made himself an offer he couldn’t understand.” Lot of copies listed on Amazon, and plenty of Youtube videos. Something to offend every ethnicity.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Case Antiques
    2024 Summer Fine Art & Antiques
    July 6-7, 2024
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: Audubon Birds of America, 1st Octavo Edition; 5 vols plus Journals, ex. J.J. Pringle. $4,000 to $4,800.
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    Case Antiques, July 6-7: 23 CP Railroad Photographs c. 1883 by O.B. Buell. $1,800 to $2,200.
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    2024 Summer Fine Art & Antiques
    July 6-7, 2024
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: Cormac McCarthy, Signed 1st Editions, The Passenger & Stella Maris Box Set. $1,700 to $1,800.
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: Oliver Buell Cabinet Photograph, Chief Crowfoot. $1,400 to $1,800.
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: Colton's Atlas of the World, 1856, in Two Volumes; plus Africa / Mahdist War Map. $1,000 to $1,200.
    Case Antiques
    2024 Summer Fine Art & Antiques
    July 6-7, 2024
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: 1805 Thomas Jefferson Inaugural Speech. $1,000 to $1,200.
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: Barflies and Cocktails, Harry McElhone, First Edition Mixology Book. $1,000 to $1,200.
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: 1861 U. S. Grant Broadside Proclamation, Paducah, KY. $1,000 to $1,200.
    Case Antiques
    2024 Summer Fine Art & Antiques
    July 6-7, 2024
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: 2 John Overton Signed Letters, 1803, re: TN Statehood. $800 to $900.
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: Simon Wastell "Microbiblion or The Bibles Epitome: in Verse" 1629. $600 to $700.
    Case Antiques, July 6-7: Thomas Lewis Family Letter Archive; Boston, Massachusetts. $400 to $500.
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000

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