Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2010 Issue

"Piccadilly Notes" from Sotheran's

Picadilly Notes 56 from Sotheran's.


By Michael Stillman

Sotheran's, the centuries old London bookseller, has issued another one of its extensive, detailed, well-illustrated catalogues. This one contains 570 items on over 150 quarto pages. The type might be a bit small, but Sotheran's believes in thorough descriptions. No guessing is required. This catalogue is entitled Piccadilly Notes 56, the latest in a series that has been running for the good part of a century. The series does not have a particular focus we can discern, other than lots of interesting books on various topics. This catalogue does devote almost 200 listings to photographic books, while the rest range everywhere from serious philosophical treatises to books for children. Here are a few.

Item 100 is a collection of mid-19th century pamphlets with an exceptional provenance. They were all part of the library of Charles Dickens at his country home in Gadshill. Many may have been sent to him while he was publishing the journal Household Words, perhaps hoping Dickens would review them. They are mostly on the types of themes Dickens championed, such as the poor, abolition, education, capital punishment, asylums, labor and agriculture. Among the titles are Notes on the Slave Trade, An Essay of Capital Punishment, Report of the Committee of Visitors to the lunatic asylum for North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, and The Slaves of the Needle (this referred to seamstresses, not drug addicts as one might think was the case today). The Prison and the School has many annotations in Dickens' hand. Dickens' library was bequeathed to his son Charles after he died, and Charles sold it to none other than Sotheran's, who offered the books for sale in a catalogue in 1878. However, many of Sotheran's records were destroyed during the bombing of London during the Second World War, so they no longer have a record of who purchased them. Priced at £17,500 (British pounds, or approximately $28,120 in U.S. dollars).

Item 316 is a British item, an 1808 first edition printed in London, but it may be of even greater interest to Americans. The title is An Authentic Narrative of the Causes of which Led to the Death of Major Andre, by Joshua Hett Smith. Major John Andre worked directly for the British leader, General Henry Clinton, during the American Revolution. He worked in undercover missions, most notably, as the liaison to American General Benedict Arnold. Arnold was negotiating with the British to turn over the American fort at West Point, which would have enabled the British to split off the northern colonies from those in the south. Andre met with Arnold at the home of author Joshua Hett Smith's brother, but while there, the boat Andre had taken up the Hudson to West Point was spotted by the Americans and forced to flee. Andre donned civilian clothes to escape, but was captured by American soldiers who became suspicious with his story. His mission revealed, Andre was placed on trial as a spy, which carried the death penalty, rather than as an enemy soldier, which would have only resulted in imprisonment, because he was not dressed in military garb. The Americans still remembered British treatment of Nathan Hale a few years earlier. Andre was convicted and hanged. Smith was also put on trial, but was acquitted, and returned to England to write this book. £250 (US $401).

Rare Book Monthly

  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000

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