Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2010 Issue

Natural History from Sotheran's

Sotherans08-10

Natural History from Sotheran's.


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from Sotheran's of London is devoted to the subject of Natural History. Sotheran's offers both general and specific catalogues, and this one falls into the latter category. Here you will find primarily English books written about plants and animals, including the human one. Many are noted for their illustrations, while others are more significant for their texts. Here are some of them.

Most people associate Charles Darwin only with evolution, but he wrote several far less controversial works after his Origin of Species. Item 75 is The Various Contrivances by Which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects. This look at the sex life of orchids was considered tame enough even by Victorian standards. The American botanist Asa Gray noted, "if the Orchid-book (with a few trifling omissions) had appeared before the Origin the author would have been canonized rather than anathematized by the natural theologians." Darwin hoped that the detail he provided in his orchid book would at least demonstrate to doubters the seriousness of his efforts in reaching his conclusions concerning evolution. Offered is a second edition published in 1877. Priced at £500 (or roughly $752 in U.S. dollars).

Item 2 is an obscure, anonymously written little book from the 1840s published in Worcester, Massachusetts: Natural History of Birds. It covers birds well known in New England such as the hoopoe, swan, crane, partridge... Hoopoe? I lived for 20 years in New England and never heard of it. It doesn't much look like anything I ever saw in New England, and is supposed to live in Asia and Africa, but perhaps in the 1840s...? £50 (US $75).

Once you get to know your birds, it's time to make friends. Item 17 is Niel Morrow Ladd's How to make friends with birds, published in 1916. This book isn't a self-help book or treatise of pick up lines, but is actually a guide on how to attract birds to your garden. £30 (US $45).

Once you have induced those birds into your garden, you may want to catch them. Then you can make use of this next book: Cage and Chamber-Birds. Their Natural History, Habits, Food, Diseases, Management and Modes of Capture. This is the 1853 first English edition of German J.M. Bechstein's advice on capturing and caring for caged birds. Item 5. £400 (US $602).

On second thought, maybe you don't want to capture that bird. Long before many people were concerned about the lives of animals, noted ornithologist William Henry Hudson published this attack on the caging of birds: A Thrush That Never Lived. Published circa 1914, Hudson writes about an epitaph he found written by a caged thrush (we will assume this is a work of fiction). The thrush shared Hudson's view that birds should be allowed to fly free. Item 13. £55 (US $83).

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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