Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2011 Issue

First Books and Before from Between The Covers

First books from Between the Covers.

Between the Covers Rare Books has printed a catalogue of First Books & Before. The Gloucester City, New Jersey, bookseller quickly points out that what constitutes “first books” is not quite so obvious as it may first appear. If a writer's first creation is a full-length novel, the definition might be clear, but it rarely is that easy. His or her first printed work could be a magazine article, part of an anthology, a printed high school play or entry in a yearbook. Some started out writing pulp fiction under assumed names. The reality may be that the author has one or more “pre-first” books that came before that great novel. So, what Between the Covers has done is include works that fit various definitions of “first,” meaning that the same author may have several “firsts” offered in this catalogue. Each is a first, or pre-first, in some way. What you won't find here is their second novel – no Gatsbys, no Bridge of San Luis Rey. They arrived one too late for this catalogue.

Speaking of The Great Gatsby's author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, his career took off five years before his most famous novel when he published This Side of Paradise. If not quite as successful as Gatsby, this 1920 novel was successful enough to quickly make him one of America's most popular writers. This was certainly Fitzgerald's first book. However, it was not his first appearance in print. Between the Covers has two items that represent his first before the first. In 1914, when these pieces were printed, Fitzgerald was a student at Princeton University. He was a member of the university's Triangle Club, a noted college touring theater group that put on student written musical comedies. For the 1914-15 season, one of those plays was entitled Fie! Fie! Fi-Fi! Fitzgerald wrote the lyrics for the musical, though not the score. Words, not melodies, was his specialty. Fitzgerald would go on to write more material for the Triangle Club, but this was his first contribution. Item 22 is a copy of the music and lyrics for this play, the first printed piece by Fitzgerald save for the actors' printed copy of the script. Priced at $2,250. Item 23 is a program for this same musical, a string-tied eight-page piece. $2,500.

The uninitiated might think Rabbit, Run was John Updike's first book. Those more familiar would cite The Poorhouse Fair, his first novel, published a year earlier, or a book of poetry published the year before that (1958). However, Updike made another appearance in 1958, one that is not as well remembered or celebrated as his later works. That year, a group of Harvard students, Updike included, published a tribute to a local tobacconist. Today, we would be less inclined to honor someone who got us hooked on a life-threatening drug, but this was 1958, and we didn't know better. The tribute is entitled 75 Aromatic Years of Leavitt & Pierce in Recollection of 31 Harvard Men 1883-1958. Updike was one of those Harvard men. Item 524. $50. If you would prefer Updike's first true book, item 525 is The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures, that volume of poetry also published in 1958. This copy contains an inscription from Updike to a good friend. $2,500.

Item 331 is the first book by a man better known for speaking than writing. He was one of, if not the greatest American orator, his words changing his country and the world. This is a particularly opportune time to remember Martin Luther King as his memorial in Washington was just dedicated a couple of weeks ago. His first book is Stride Toward Freedom, published in 1958, and it is an account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott began in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white man. The rule at the time was that when all of the seats on a bus were taken, and a white person entered, the black people closest to the front of the bus had to give up their seats, and stand the rest of the journey. Rosa Parks was arrested and fined. She went to court to fight the fine, and eventually won when the Supreme Court overturned the local rules that created the policy. However, the black people of Montgomery were not content to hope for an eventual favorable court decision. They quickly began refusing to ride the buses. The city held out, but it was devastating financially as three-quarters of the bus riders in Montgomery were black. For over a year, the boycott continued, until a favorable Supreme Court decision. Rather than standing in the bus door, as would happen later in a schoolhouse, Montgomery quickly acceded rather than face continuing financial loses. It was one of the first important victories for the civil rights movement, and one of its leaders was a young local preacher named Martin Luther King. This copy of his account is inscribed by King to North Carolina Central University professor Dr. Charles W. Orr. $10,000.

Rare Book Monthly

    Valuable Books and Manuscripts
    London auction
    13 December
    Find out more
    Christie’s, Explore now
    TREW, Christoph Jacob (1695–1769). Plantae Selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortus curiosorum. [Nuremberg: 1750–1773]. £30,000–40,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623–88). Liber Organicus Astronomiae Europaeae apud Sinas restituate. [Beijing: Board of Astronomy, 1674]. £250,000–350,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ALICE & NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT. Master of Jean Rolin (active 1445–65). Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, [Paris, c.1450–1460]. £120,000–180,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    A SILVER MICROSCOPE. Probably by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), c.1700. £150,000–250,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    C.1311. £100,000–150,000
  • Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Roberts (David) & Croly (George). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumae, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. Lond. 1842 - 1843 [-49]. First Edn. €10,000 to €15,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Incunabula: O'Fihily (Maurice). Duns Scotus Joannes: O'Fihely, Maurice Abp… Venice, 20th November 1497. €8,000 to €12,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: An important file of documents with provenance to G.A. Newsom, manager of the Jacob’s Factory in Dublin, occupied by insurgents during Easter Week 1916. €6,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: WILDE (Oscar), 1854-1900, playwright, aesthete and wit. A lock of Wilde’s Hair, presented by his son to the distinguished Irish actor Mícheál MacLiammóir. €6,000 to €8,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Heaney (Seamus). Bog Poems, London, 1975. Special Limited Edition, No. 33 of 150 Copies, Signed by Author. Illus. by Barrie Cooke. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Binding: Burke, Thomas O.P. (de Burgo). Hibernia Dominicana, Sive Historia Provinciae Hiberniae Ordinis Praedicatorum, ... 1762. First Edition. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: COLLINS, Michael. An important TL, 29 July 1922, addressed to GOVERNMENT on ‘suggested Proclamation warning all concerned that troops have orders to shoot prisoners found sniping, ambushing etc.’. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Scott Fitzgerald (F.) The Great Gatsby, New York (Charles Scribner's Sons) 1925, First Edn. €2,000 to €3,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Yeats (W.B.) The Poems of W.B. Yeats, 2 vols. Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949. Limited Edition, No. 46 of 375 Copies Only, Signed by W.B. Yeats. €1,500 to €2,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of the Russian Empire, Description in English and French, Lg. folio London (S. Gosnell) 1803. First Edn. €1,000 to €1,500.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of Turkey, Illustrated by a Series of Engravings. Lg. folio Lond.(T. Bensley) 1802. First Edn. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Mason (Geo. Henry). The Costume of China, Illustrated with Sixty Engravings. Lg. folio London (for W. Miller) 1800. First Edn. €1,400 to €1,800
  • Sotheby’s
    Important Modern Literature from the Library of an American Filmmaker
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Kerouac, Jack. Typescript scroll of The Dharma Bums. Typed by Kerouac in Orlando, Florida, 1957, published by Viking in 1958. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. The autograph manuscript of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." [Key West, finished April 1936]. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Miller, Henry. Typescript of The Last Book, a working title for Tropic of Cancer, written circa 1931–1932. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Ruscha, Ed. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, with a lengthy inscription to Joe Goode. 40,000 - 60,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. in our time, first edition of Hemingway’s second book. 30,000 - 50,000 USD
  • Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 2:
    John Ford Clymer, U.S. Troops' Triumphant Return to New York Harbor, oil on canvas, circa 1944.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 44:
    Edward Gorey, Illustration of cover and spine for Fonthill, a Comedy by Aubrey Menen, pen and ink, 1973.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 50:
    Harrison Cady, frontispiece for Buster Bear's Twins by Thornton W. Burgess, watercolor and ink, 1921.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 54:
    Ludwig Bemelmans, Pepito, portrait of Pepito from the Madeline book series, mixed media.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 79:
    Gluyas Williams, Fellow Citizens Observation Platform, pen and ink, cartoon published in The New Yorker, March 11, 1933.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 86:
    Thomas Nast, Victory, – for the moment, political cartoon, pen and ink, 1884.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 91:
    Mischa Richter, Lot of 10 cartoons for Field Publications, ink and pencil, circa 1940.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 111:
    Arthur Getz, Sledding In Central Park, casein tempera on canvas, cover of The New Yorker, February 26, 1955.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 124:
    Richard Erdoes, Map of Boston, illustration for unknown children's magazine, gouache on board, circa 1960.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 155:
    Robert Fawcett, The old man looked him over carefully, gouache on board, published in The Saturday Evening Post, June 9, 1945.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 170:
    Violet Oakley, Portrait of Woodrow Wilson, charcoal and pastel, circa 1918.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 188:
    Robert J. Wildhack, Scribner's for March, 1907, mixed media.

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