Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2010 Issue

Important Works from Peter Harrington

Peter Harrington's Catalogue 73.


By Michael Stillman

Peter Harrington has issued the firm's Catalogue 73, containing 199 items of significance for collectors from various fields. These items are connected by their importance rather than their subject matter. The catalogue begins with Section One, being the first 11 pieces offered, described as "featured items." Section Two consists of the remainder of the works offered. Here are some from each.

We start with a book that is very valuable even though it isn't particularly rare. Then again, a First Folio or even a Gutenberg isn't particularly rare either. It is its enormous importance that makes the book so valuable. Item 2 is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, an 1859 first edition of Charles Darwin's pioneering work. It is often considered the most important scientific study of the 19th century, and the most important biological book ever written. Its theory of evolution, which ran against the common theological beliefs of its day, made it one of the most controversial books ever published. It still is, though Darwin's conclusions are hard to escape. Priced at £75,000 (British pounds, or roughly $119,677 in U.S. dollars).

Item 8 is a Machiavellian work if ever there was one: The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli was an official in early 16th century Florence when he wrote this handbook on how to rule for princes. What distinguished the author's theories was his belief in practical, rather than ideal rule, which at times required trickery, deceit and force. His principles have been adopted by countless rulers through the ages, though few would admit to it. Offered is the first edition in English, published in 1640. £37,500 (US $59,820).

Item 11 is the most fantastic of the travel books from the era of discovery. It is the most fantastic because none of it is true, though it was one of the most popular travel books ever written. It is Travels into several Remote Nations of the World. By Lemuel Gulliver. This is the October 28, 1726, first edition. This book is today better known as Gulliver's Travels, though Gulliver himself was as fictional as the travels. The actual author was Jonathan Swift, who proved to be a great satirist as well as writer. In the style of the travel books of the era, "Gulliver" recounts his visits to many far off lands, reporting on the strange customs of their inhabitants, giants, pigmies, whatever he found. The book still works today as a parody of travel books, or entertainment for children, but it was also a satire on the politics of the day, though that would be hard to recognize by most readers now. £95,000 (US $151,545).

Item 146 includes a copy of the first printing of The Raven in book form, plus one page of a manuscript book review in Edgar Allan Poe's hand. The book is The Raven and Other Poems, published in 1845. The manuscript leaf contains part of Poe's review of The Angel's Visit, poetry by Sarah Ann Lewis. Poe was a tough critic, but uncommonly gentle with the undistinguished Mrs. Lewis. In an earlier published review of one of her books, Poe actually wrote that it would "confer immortality on its author." Ever heard of her? Harrington notes that Poe wrote favorably of Mrs. Lewis' poems, "possibly softening his literary judgment in consideration of the fact that she nursed his wife Virginia during her long illness." We may be able to upgrade that theory from possibly to probably. £17,500 (US $27,916).

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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