Source : Kraus
|Source Title||Americana Vetustissima, Catalogue 185|
|Description|| For half a century H.P. Kraus has been established at 16 East 46th Street, New York, in a five-story brownstone amid the skyscrapers of mid-town Manhattan. This small cultural oasis epitomizes the world of rare books whose inhabitants need, as well as scholarship and knowledge, the persistence and intuition of a good detective. In the words of the firm’s late founder, life in this field of rare books “involves research carrying one back through all of recorded history, across the world, and into just about every human activity.”
Some of the most magnificent achievements of Western civilization in the form of early manuscripts and printed books have passed through our hands. Treasures such as the Hours of Catherine of Cleves (Morgan Library), the Rothschild Apocalypse (Cloisters, MMA), the Giant Bible of Mainz (LC), the Gutenberg Bible and the Shakespeare Folios; libraries such as part of the enormous collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps, the princely library of Lichtenstein, and much of the ducal one of Arenberg. One rarity which eluded Hans Kraus all his life was finally acquired by the firm in 1991, and a copy of the 36-line Bible, much rarer than the Gutenberg Bible, is now in the W.H. Scheide library at Princeton.
As well as early manuscripts and incunabula, our stock includes European books on a variety of subjects from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, early Americana, maps, and bibliography. We issue three or four catalogues yearly in different fields, and are always pleased to assist new collectors in those areas.
|Scope of Text|| In an extraordinary tour-de-force the esteemed booksellers H. P. Kraus of New York City prepared an unusual catalogue of Americana to honor the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus arriving in the new world – Americana Vetustissima (Catalogue 185). To create this catalogue that they issued in 1991, they organized an absolutely extraordinary group of important pieces most of which date to within 50 years of Columbus’ discovery. Of course the first item is a Columbus Letter printed in Rome in the late spring of 1493. For those who love the earliest materials what follows is an absolute tour de force of absolutely impeccable examples. There’s a 1504 Vespucci Letter and a 1507 Waldseemuller, a 1521 Peter Martyr, a 1532 Cortes Letter and a 1553 Lopez de Gomara. To read this catalogue you could begin to think that such material is actually obtainable when in fact it is very rarely seen. For those who are momentarily transported back to a time when such material could be found, one is brought back to reality by the prices which reflect that these pieces, while rare in any condition, are themselves, in every case in this catalogue, condition rarities.
It is one thing to look through great catalogues of 75 years ago and think that a few dollars invested then would have yielded extraordinary returns today. But we all know that such materials haven’t just risen in price, they have also disappeared almost entirely.”
|Total Records in AED||569|