Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2010 Issue

Science and Astronomy from Jeff Weber Rare Books

Weber159

Science and astronomy from Jeff Weber Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

This month we received our first catalogue from Jeff Weber Rare Books of Glendale, California. This is number 159 in their series, titled Rare Science and Astronomy Books. Weber specializes in science, and while this particular catalogue is focused on astronomy, others feature different topics within the field. Some of these books will be rather technical, while others are aimed more at the layman looking to expand his/her horizons. There is an enormous amount of knowledge and discovery in this catalogue - 418 tomes on the latest information of the day, though that day may range from a few years past to centuries ago. These are some samples of the material you will find.

While the names of many of the scientists who have contributed to this catalogue are not well known outside of their fields, we will start with the great work of a man everyone knows: Charles Darwin. Darwin, of course, came up with the explanation as to how the various species of plants and animals got to where they are today, a theory most controversial as it conflicted with many deeply held preconceived notions. Item 76 is a copy of the first American edition, published in 1860, of his earth shattering book On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection. Many regard this as the most important scientific work of the 19th century. It had already proven to be an instantaneous top seller by the time the American edition came out, only a few short months after the first edition. Priced at $5,000.

As big a selling success as the Origin was, here is a Darwin title that sold even faster than that one: The formation of vegetable mould, through the action of worms with observations on their habits. That doesn't sound like it would be more popular, though it was certainly less controversial. It was his last scientific book and the last work published during his lifetime. Darwin had joked about going to join the worms about which he wrote. Actually, he had been fascinated by the creatures for decades, having first written about them long before he conceived the Origin. This book provided the summary of his learning about these animals he considered exceedingly important to the environment, and at least semi-intelligent. Item 75. Published in 1882. $150.

Somewhat forgotten along the way is that Darwin did not publish the first paper on evolution, at least not on his own. Darwin developed the theory first in the early 1840s, but sat on it, somewhat fearful of public reaction. In the 1850s, Alfred Russel Wallace developed a theory of evolution very similar to Darwin's separately. It was on hearing from Wallace that Darwin realized he must finally publish his theories or be left behind. The result was that he and Wallace published the first description of their theory jointly in 1858. Item 389 is Wallace's autobiography, published in 1905: My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions. Item 389. $400.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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>

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