Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2011 Issue

Decorative Bindings, Private Presses, and Other Fine Books from Phillip J. Pirages

Fine books and bindings from Phillip J. Pirages.

Catalogue 59 from Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts is entitled Historically Interesting and Decorative Bindings, Private Press Books, & other Special Printings. As the title suggests, these are books that also fit the category of works of art. Some are important books in their own right; others less significant works dressed up in elegant clothing. They range all the way from deluxe editions to bejeweled bindings of such elegance and extravagance it is hard to imagine that they house mere books. Most of the items offered are British in origin, though Pirages is located in Oregon. Well, Oregon was once a British possession, at least in the minds of the British. Here are a few samples from this catalogue which itself exudes elegance just as do the items described and pictured.

 

Item 111 is an 1817 first edition of Lalla Rookh:  An Oriental Romance, by Thomas Moore. This was a very popular romance in its day, the story of a young lady who travels to meet the prince to whom she has become engaged, falls in love with a poet along the way, and then discovers the poet is really her prince. Its popularity has not stood the test of time as well as, say, works by Shakespeare. So why is this book priced at $65,000? It's all in the ornamentation. It comes in what Pirages describes as "among the most wonderful modern bindings we have ever seen." Most notable are the 226 jewels embedded in the binding. Among the jewels are two rubies for eyes of a Bird of Paradise, 19 turquoises, nine bands of mother-of-pearl, 20 each blue chalcedonies and garnets, two amethysts, three sapphires, and so on. The binding is the work of Sangorski and Sutcliffe from the early 20th century.

 

Item 21 features a binding made for royalty. The book is Chorographia Britanniae, a 1742 atlas of English counties bound by John Brindley for Frederick Louis, the Prince of Wales. Brindley operated a bindery and bookshop in London, where he bound books for Frederick and his mother, Queen Caroline, as well as Isaac Newton and others. Frederick, on the other hand, never needed a real job, but was noted as a patron of the arts. He apparently detested his father, King George II, a feeling that was certainly mutual. It was of no great sorrow to his father that Frederick, though the first born, never became King. Dad outlived him, perhaps inspired to do so by his distaste for his son. However, Frederick's son, like his father, would be King, in this case George III, hated by revolutionary Americans as Frederick and George II despised each other. His great-granddaughter was one of England's most notable of monarchs, Queen Victoria. $9,500.

 

That note about Queen Victoria provides a segue to item 348. Private Lives of Kaiser William II and his Consort, supposedly written by one of his Empress' ladies in waiting and published in 1909. Private no more! This is a tell-all book that may not be entirely accurate, but does give a good look at German royalty at the time. Kaiser Bill does not come off well, being shown as "a vulgar, narcissistic philanderer" who flaunted his mistresses in front of his wife to prove his domestic independence. Kaiser William was the grandson of the aforementioned Queen Victoria, but would become the most hated man in England as he led his nation to war against grandmother's homeland, the First World War. $450.

Rare Book Monthly

  • 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
  • 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

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