Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2010 Issue

Children's Books from Aleph-Bet


The roads to Heaven and Hell; H.A. Rey's Oliver.

Most likely Baum did not personally endorse this cause and poster as he died in 1919, but then again, sometimes authors seem to reach out from the grave. Item 560 is the Love Letters of Mark Twain. It was published in 1949, 39 years after Twain's death, and includes an introduction by Dixon Wheeler, Literary Editor of Twain's estate. Nevertheless, the book is signed by Twain, and not once, but twice (once as "Twain," and once using his real name, S.L. Clemens). Twain was a very clever man, but not even Houdini was able to pull off communicating from the dead. Still, the obvious explanation, that the signatures were forged, is not correct either. It turns out that Twain had signed these pages years ago, and they had been sitting around publisher Harper and Brothers offices all that time. It was decided to make use of them by publishing this limited edition (155 copies - probably all of the signed pages available). $5,000.

Item 213 is a poster designed to serve as a warning to children. Printed circa 1835 for the Pennsylvania German community, the heading of G.S. Peters broadside translates to "the Paths to Heaven and Hell." Two paths lead to Hell, one to Heaven. The odds are not good. Heaven (above) is depicted as a glorious city, Hell a fire pit with an evil-looking Devil and skeletal figures there to greet you. If this didn't get children to mend their ways, I'm not sure what could. $1,500.

Item 483 is a 1959 manuscript with 15 watercolors by H. A. Rey, entitled Oliver: The Young Canada Goose of a Contrary Disposition. Rey was more known for monkeys than geese, particularly Curious George, but Oliver, like George, had a distinctive personality. Instead of flying south, Oliver determined to go north, visiting Moscow, Amsterdam, Africa, and such places Canadian geese rarely see. The sketchbook Rey used to create the story includes a signed dedication. $28,000.

Aleph-Bet Books may be reached at 914-764-7410 or Helen@alephbet.com. Their website is found at www.alephbet.com.

You will find many of Aleph-Bet's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

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    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
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