Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2010 Issue

A Miscellany including Printing History, Bibliography, from Michael Thompson Books

Thompson94

101 books from Michael Thompson Books.


By Michael Stillman

Michael Thompson Books has published a Spring Miscellany Consisting of 100 or So Books, Mostly Recent Acquisitions, including a large selection of titles on printing history and bibliography. We can be even more specific. There are exactly 101 books in this catalogue. Otherwise, we will go with Thompson's description as it stands. However, we will add a few examples of the books being offered.

Item 18 is A List of the Writings of Lewis Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson) in the Library at Dormy House, Pine Valley, New Jersey (1928) along with A Supplementary List... (1933). One would not necessarily expect to find the finest collection of Carroll material in New Jersey, but that is where it was in the 1930s (and mostly still is, now at the Princeton Library, to which it was willed in 1944). Dormy House was the home of Morris Longstreth Parrish, a businessman and stockbroker, obviously quite successful if not well remembered today. He put together major collections from Victorian novelists, Carroll being one of them. His collection would expand a few years later when Parrish acquired the mathematical manuscript collection of Professor Dodgson, that being Carroll's real name and primary occupation when he was not writing his novels. An aged Alice Hargreaves, the Alice of Carroll's writings, stayed at Dormy House in 1935 on a trip to America to celebrate the author's 100th birthday (a bit late). Parrish left not only his book collection, but also the furnishings of Dormy House when he died in 1944 so that its main room could be recreated in the Princeton Library. This copy of his bibliography (only 66 were printed) has been inscribed to Dickens bibliographer Thomas Hatton. Priced at $2,000.

We will now transition from the collection at Princeton University to one of its first presidents, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was a great mind and one of America's foremost theologians, most associated with the First Great Awakening in the 18th century. His preaching was a bit to the fire and brimstone side compared to mainline religion today, and even then, he could be controversial. What may not be as well remembered about him is that he had a deep interest in science, believing that it displayed God's rules, rather than contradicting them. Of particular interest to Edwards were spiders, though I have no idea why. Item 35 is Edwards' Spider Letter, published in 2009 (two and a half centuries after he died). Written in 1723 to Judge Paul Dudley, a friend of his father, the young Edwards discusses arachnids, a subject that fascinated him as a youth. $475.

Item 16 is the great work of the Spanish scientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal: Textura del sistema nervioso del hombre y de los vertebrados. It is a look at the nervous system of vertebrates. It was Cajal who discovered the basic structures of the nervous system, neurons or nerve cells. He then studied how they interacted, recognizing the presence of small gaps, or synapses between the cells. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1906 for his discoveries. This rare first edition of his book, two volumes with hundreds of original illustrations, was published in 1899-1904. $25,000.

Francis Parkman's account of The California and Oregon Trail remains the most noted book about this region from the early days of travel across it, though Parkman did not get farther than Wyoming on his journey. This Boston Brahmin was an excellent storyteller as well as adventurer, though his descriptions of the savages at times display his ethnocentric opinions. Offered is a first edition, second printing of this notable work, along with a letter from Parkman to fellow writer William Leete Stone. $6,500.

Item 81 is an intriguing item for booksellers and collectors: Slightly Foxed - but Still Desirable: Ronald Searle's wicked world of Book Collecting, published in 1989. This is one of 150 specially bound copies signed by Searle. It is a compilation of cartoons depicting various bookseller's terms, such as "cracked, but holding," "neat underlining," and "a little dog-eared but otherwise acceptable." $950.

Michael Thompson Books may be reached at 323-658-1901 or mrtbksla@pacbell.net. Their website is www.mrtbooksla.com.

Rare Book Monthly

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