Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2011 Issue

Varied Printed and Manuscript Material from Samuel Gedge Ltd.

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The latest from Samuel Gedge, Ltd.

Samuel Gedge Ltd. has issued their Catalogue X. That is "X" as in ten, not as in x-rated. Most of what you will find here is not primarily books per se, but a variety of ephemeral printed and manuscript material. There are broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers, handwritten ledgers, drawings, and even more unusual printed items such as printed fans and handkerchiefs. There are also a few even more ephemeral items such as the French Royal Librarian's letter pouch (18th century Royal Librarian Jean-Paul Bignon liked to exchange a lot of letters - he would have loved Facebook). Of course, there are some books here too. Most of the material offered is of English origin, but as that last item attests, not all. Samuel Gedge regularly offers unexpected material, and this catalogue is no exception. Here are some samples.

 

Item 107 is a medical treatise that time has passed by, but while it seems silly today, it was a serious attempt to find cures based on the knowledge of its time, in this case, 1787:  An Account of the Effects of Swinging, Employed as a Remedy in the Pulmonary Consumption and Hectic Fever, by James Carmichael Smyth. I'm not sure what hectic fever was, but pulmonary consumption was usually what today is known as tuberculosis. At the time, it was believed, undoubtedly based on anecdotal evidence, that sufferers of these diseases found their health improved when they went to sea. There were two possible explanations. One was that the salty sea air helped; the other was that the rolling motion was somehow beneficial. Mr. Smyth believed the latter. He concluded that the motion, and accompanying seasickness, actually reduced the coughing and other symptoms. As a result, he advocated "swinging," motion induced by having people swing or spin in a chair raised off the ground by ropes. Obviously, such a "cure" today would be deemed quackery, but in an era long before antibiotics, and before the use of truly scientific blind testing, it was the use of anecdotal stories of cures that provided the best chance of learning something that could help the sick. Priced at £450 (roughly $728 in U.S. currency).

 

Here is a broadside for a lecture, circa 1855, that combined pseudo-science with the real. It is headed, Mr. J.S. Butterworth, Phrenologist, &c. Begs most respectfully to inform the Lovers of Knowledge and Free Inquiry that he will deliver Lectures. Gedge notes that little is known about Butterworth, other than he started out as a factory worker and made his way up to being a teacher and than a lecturer. He spoke about phrenology, the "science" where examination of the shape of one's head could tell all sorts of things about that person. In reality, it doesn't do much more than tell you the shape of that person's head. However, Butterworth also noted "a magneto electric machine will be in the room to increase the amusement, and the magnesium wire light will be exhibited." That sounds very much like, in these days before the light bulb, an early display of an incandescent light. If Butterworth had only thought to place that magnesium wire in a vacuum bulb, he could have been Edison. Item 18. £250 (US $405).

 

Item 67 comes from America. It is a doctoral certificate issued by the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1819. It was awarded to Thomas Connell, who seems to have disappeared into history, as most people from that long ago time have done. However, the certificate is signed by several leading figures in American medicine of the era, including Philip Syng Physick. Dr. Physic obtained his medical degree in England, but returned to Philadelphia where he treated many of America's leading figures during that city's yellow fever epidemic of 1793. Dr. Physic was a pioneer, inventing the stomach pump, and making several surgical advances. He earned the appellation of the "Father of American Surgery" for his work. £750 (US $1,215).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Manhattan Gay Scene Guide 1969, Summer Edition,</i> Mattachine Book Service. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Harvey Milk, 2 autograph letters signed, to Pat Mormon, during US Navy service, 1954. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>“The secret of life is in Art,”</i> autograph quotation dated and signed, 1882. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Daniel Abraham, original art for <i>Stonewall Romances,</i> pen, ink & gouache, 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Antonio Lopez, 9 men’s fashion studies, graphite, 1974. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Susie Gaynes & Amy E. Bartell, <i>March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,</i> 1987. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Paris is Burning,</i> photo offset poster by Anne Dutlinger, signed by film director Jennie Livingston, 1991. $400 to $600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Toyen, pen & ink illustration from <i>Marquis de Sade: Justina cili prokletí ctnosti,</i> 1932. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> David Wojnarowicz, <i>Untitled (Genet with Dog),</i> mixed media collage. $8,000 to $12,000.

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