Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2009 Issue

Strange Book Title Finalists; AbeBooks Latest Top 10

Baboon

The metaphysical Baboon.


By Michael Stillman

The Bookseller magazine has announced the six finalists for its 31st annual Oddest Book Title of the Year award. These are titles that were not meant to make you laugh, which is precisely why they do. They range from the odd to the unintentionally suggestive to the incomprehensibly vague. Frequently, they are books of a technical nature, written by people with outstanding scholarly abilities, but not much aptitude for writing a headline. The good news is that, in their ineptitude, they unintentionally created some classic titles anyway. This year, there are six nominees for the prize, which will be announced on March 27.

Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy L. Cheney and Robert M. Seyfarth. Cheney and Seyfarth are not great philosophers from the Planet of the Apes, but simply people who have studied the baboons of Botswana.

Curbside Consultation of the Colon by Brooks D. Cash. This book doesn't involve actually conversing with the colon, or providing those embarrassing, uncomfortable examinations on a public street. It is merely a work of technical medical advice concerning the colon for physicians.

The Large Sieve and its Applications by Emmanuel Kowalski. This is a book about very complex mathematical formulas, not very simple kitchen utensils.

Strip and Knit with Style by Mark Hordyszynski. The illustrations here will disappoint, as this book has nothing to do with stylish strippers. It has everything to do with knitting strips of fabric.

Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring by Lietai Yang. The publisher describes this book as providing guidance on monitoring the corrosion of material, such as "polarization techniques, potentiometric methods, electrochemical noise and harmonic analyses, galvanic sensors, differential flow through cells and multielectrode systems." Clear enough?

The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Professor Philip M. Parker. This is a highly technical study of worldwide demand for this particular type of specialty French cheese in 60-milligram containers. If the subject interests you, the book is available on Amazon for a mere $795.

AbeBooks released its top 10 most expensive sales for the month of January, and the good news is that hard times notwithstanding, there are still books being sold for hefty price tags. Here they are:

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.

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