Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2011 Issue

From Russia (and Europe) with a Short List from Simon Beattie

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A large, short list.

Simon Beattie Antiquarian Books and Music has issued Short List 3, a very large catalogue for a small number of items. This is a 26-page large folio presentation, containing large photographs and extensive small print descriptions. Beattie has described his favorite subjects as German, Russian, and music, and those who collect in these fields won't be disappointed. There is a particularly heavy concentration in Russian related material, which can be both tsarist and soviet era, though the subjects can be a Russian ambassador in Britain, or a Russian émigré in New York. Beattie combines unusual cataloguing with uncommon material to provide lists that are intriguing as well as entertaining to read. It is definitely worth getting on his mailing list if this is the sort of material you collect. Here are some items from this latest short list.

 

Item 22 is a first edition by an extremely popular Russian author, Mark Twain. Okay, Twain was not a Russian author, but he was an extremely popular author in Russia. Surprisingly, he was not only popular in tsarist Russia, but continued to be popular even after the anti-American communist regime came to power. In 1941, Russian scholar Albert Parry wrote, "…in a period of three recent years Mark Twain's works sold over a million and a half copies printed in the various languages of Soviet peoples…" One suspects that despite the sales, Twain's estate didn't get a lot of royalties. Offered is Prints I nishchii, the 1884 first Russian edition of The Prince and the Pauper. Beattie notes that the Russian National Library catalogue shows over 100 editions of this book. Priced at £3,500 (British pounds or $5,655 U.S. dollars).

 

Not all American books were welcome in Soviet Russia. So there developed a tradition known as samizdat books. These were Russian translations copied and distributed privately, its "publishers" hoping to evade the eyes of the censors and the punishments they might face if caught. Item 7 is a samizdat translation of Nik Cohn's 1969 Pop from the Beginning (in America Rock from the Beginning). It covers rock from Bill Haley to Jimi Hendrix. The "publisher" typed up the translation and then mimeographed the copies. He has added a list of top singles from 1950-1968 and a section on rock films. Item 7. £2,750 (US $4,444).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.

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