Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2007 Issue

In The News: Cannibals, The Potters, Bushwacked

A touching note from the first President Bush to the forgotten son is up for sale.


By Michael Stillman

Proving that authors are most dedicated to their research, aspiring writer Jose Luis Calva was arrested in his home in Mexico City last month for the murder of his girlfriend. Reportedly, parts of her body were found in a closet, cereal box, refrigerator, and, oh no, a frying pan. DNA has since shown the meat in the frying pan to be human flesh, and it matches parts missing from girlfriend Alejandro Galeano's dismembered body. Before you rush to judgment on Mr. Calva, it appears that if the allegations are true, he may simply have been conducting research for his next book. He reportedly told police he is an aspiring horror writer. A manuscript was found in his apartment entitled Cannibal Instincts. This incident will undoubtedly enable Calva to quickly find a publisher and his book will soon be on the bestseller lists. He will receive boxes of letters to his prison cell from women seeking marriage. Calva, who was bloodied in an unsuccessful attempt at escape, is also a suspect in the earlier killing of a prostitute whose body parts had been discovered in a bag on the street, undoubtedly missing a few pieces. A literary Jeffrey Dahmer he is.

As long as we are on the subject of human body parts, Christie's announced the results of a successful auction on October 5 entitled Anatomy as Art. A total of 208 out of 229 lots of anatomical atlases and such sold, bringing in almost $1,450,000. At the top of the list was Hierinn sind begriffen vier büücher von menschlicher Proportion, a 1528 work by Albrecht Durer, wherein the great German illustrator used his mathematical skills to create accurate proportions of the human body. There is no hint whatsoever that Durer ever ate any of his subjects when he was through drawing them.

A Christie's auction of October 25 proved that you can make a lot of money with new books, provided you pick the right one. A copy of the first issue of the first edition of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, sold for a remarkable $40,236. This book is all of ten years old. Another $6,141 was spent on Ian Fleming's 1947 pre-Bond poem, Ode to Sister Potter. She was Fleming's nurse when he was stricken with pneumonia. Based on the age difference, we doubt she is Harry's sister.

Divorce is rarely pretty, particularly when famous names are involved. However, it may result in some unexpected collectibles showing up on the market, such as a presidential letter. In 2003, presidential son and brother Neil Bush and his wife of 22 years, Sharon, were divorced. It was messy. Neil Bush admitted to adultery and, according to Sharon, informed her by email of his desire to seek a divorce. What Al Gore wrought when he invented the internet! Neil had something of a checkered past with unsuccessful businesses. His most notable failure was as a Director of Silverado Savings and Loan of Colorado, one of the mega bank failures of the late 1980s, early 1990s. The losses were around a billion dollars, still a substantial sum of money at the time. Bush had to pay $50,000, the taxpayers the rest. Some believe Neil may have considered a run for Governor of Colorado when his brothers were planning similar runs in Texas and Florida, but this scandal ended his political career. However, he continued to do fine personally despite few businesses successes, helped by family friends always able to find suitably well-compensated employment for him.

Rare Book Monthly

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

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