Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2012 Issue

A Variety from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins110

A Gutenberg leaf on the cover of James Cummins' catalogue.

James Cummins Bookseller's Catalogue 110 offers a variety of books and ephemeral material. It is impossible to peg such a variety other than to say this is higher end material, mostly priced in four digits. Rather than try to explain any further, we will take a look at a few samples of the items Cummins has in store, or in catalogue, anyway.

It is always logical to start from the beginning, and for books, that would be 1455. That is when the first book rolled off the press, Gutenberg's Bible. It didn't really roll off. Gutenberg's press was not exactly automated, but nevertheless, it was an unparalleled moment in the history of communications, nothing coming close until at least the 19th century with the invention of the telegraph and telephone. Item 52 is a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, complete copies long ago disappearing from the market. This is a leaf that is included with A. Edward Newton's essay on Gutenberg, published in 1921 by New York bookseller Gabriel Wells, under the title A Noble Fragment. Wells had separated the leaves from an imperfect copy he purchased at Sotheby's in 1920. Priced at $67,500.

Here is a book that was to science what Gutenberg's Bible was to printing. It is a second edition of Isaac Newton's Principia, published in 1713 (one of only three editions published during his lifetime). This was the work that introduced Newton's laws of motion and gravity. It explained what was going on in the world, be it the motion of planets or events here on earth. Prior to Newton, Keppler and Galileo explained what was happening, but it was Newton who provided the explanation why. The first edition was published in 1687, but had long ago become very scarce when Newton was convinced to publish this updated version. Item 75. $27,500.

Item 10 is a collection of letters from Phineas T. Barnum to Edward Bok, editor of The Brooklyn Magazine and Ladies Home Journal. However, these letters begin from years prior to Bok's important editorship, to the days when was just a persistent, and annoying young autograph hound. In one, Barnum jokingly relents to Bok's pleas, writing, “...I find it impossible to shake you off... But life is too short to permit an ever-busy man like me to write letters to strangers...I cannot do it. The idea of a man in his 72nd year called upon to write letters about nothing! Why the thing is perfectly preposterous! I shan't do it!” In a later letter, Barnum congratulates Bok's “Extraordinary & sometimes no doubt annoying persistence” in collecting autographs, quite an accomplishment for someone just 19. He then adds, “Meanwhile I sympathize with the sick, lame, halt, blind, aged and decrepit victims to whom you will give no rest till they surrender...” Ironically, Barnum would later write for publications Bok edited, probably unaware that he was the annoying autograph hound. He even agreed to write a piece for a book Bok was publishing, but withdrew the offer when he realized who Bok was. He appears to have believed that Bok may have been more interested in collecting written documents than in publishing the book. Three years later, Barnum writes another letter concerning an article his wife wrote for Ladies Home Journal, now under Bok's editorship. $9,000.

Speaking of Mr. Barnum, item 49 is an 1853 broadside for The Aztecs in Mexico 1503. Don't believe a word of it. It advertised an appearance by the so-called “Aztec Lilliputians” at the Hanover Rooms in London. Maximo and Bartola were no more Aztecs than you or I. They were two poor San Salvadoran children who suffered from microcephaly, where the head is unusually small and slanted, the body usually small too, and intelligence generally limited (the vernacular for the condition is “pinhead”). The children were taken from their poor home and sold to an American named Morris, who put them on display. Morris made up this story that they were from a lost Aztec city, the last of their race, revered by their people as Gods. From Morris, they would wind their way to P.T. Barnum's museum and his traveling shows. Amazingly, most people believed the story. Didn't Barnum say there's a sucker born every minute? (actually, apparently not, though most people believe he did). The pair (they were brother and sister) were taken to the White House to meet President Fillmore, and later Queen Victoria and numerous princes of Europe. Oddly, it is unknown whatever became of them, though it is believed they survived at least until the late 19th century, and probably into the 20th. $1,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Doyle<br>Stage & Screen<br>Auction April 28</b>
    <b>Doyle, Stage & Screen:</b> Lot 12. OKLAHOMA! Celeste Holm's vocal score for Oklahoma! inscribed by Richard Rodgers. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Doyle, Stage & Screen:</b> Lot 20. WILSON, DOOLEY. Fine inscribed photograph to Celeste Holm with Casablanca reference. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Doyle, Stage & Screen:</b> Lot 79. Original production script of the Broadway musical CATS with notes written by Claude Tessier. $600 to $900.
    <center><b>Doyle<br>Stage & Screen<br>Auction April 28</b>
    <b>Doyle, Stage & Screen:</b> Lot 139. STEPHEN SONDHEIM. Autographed musical manuscript signed for "Broadway Baby" from Follies. $500 to $800.
    <b>Doyle, Stage & Screen:</b> Lot 180.<br>Cecil Beaton. Headdress for Liza at the Ball, from My Fair Lady, circa 1962. $700 to $900.
    <b>Doyle, Stage & Screen:</b> Lot 177.<br>Cecil Beaton. Set Design for The Gainsborough Girls, 1951. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 54. Fanciful engraving of earth's interior with magma core and errupting volcanoes (1682). $1500 to $1800.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 165. Rare state of Jefferys' influential map of New England in contemporary color (1755). $8000 to $9500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 177. Mouzon's foundation map of the Carolinas (1775). $10000 to $13000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 183. Very rare first state of De Fer's map of the Lower Mississippi Valley (1715). $20000 to $25000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 253. Scarce Scottish edition based on Ellicott's plan of Washington, D.C. (1796). $2400 to $3000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 313. Stunning view of Philadelphia by John Bachmann (1850). $3250 to $4250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 338. Rare Civil War map based on Bucholtz map of Virginia (1862). $9500 to $12000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 667. First map to accurately show Luzon in Philippines (1590). $6000 to $7500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 682. Rare map of Shanghai International Settlement published just after WWI (1918). $7000 to $9000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 738. Coronelli's superb map of the Pacific showing the Island of California (1697) Est. $2400 - $3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 743. A cornerstone piece in the mapping of Australia and New Zealand (1726) Est. $6000 - $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 781. An uncommon signature during Jefferson's Governorship of Virginia (1779) Est. $9500 - $11000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>Timed auction, April 29</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 1032. RATZER, BERNARD. Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 1011. [BROADSIDE]. Life, Last Words and Dying Confession, of Rachel Wall... $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 1055. BEATON, CECIL. Scrapbook prepared by Cecil Beaton over the period 1935-1944, with some later inclusions. $800 to $1,200.
    <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>Timed auction, April 29</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 1051. ADDAMS, CHARLES. Original drawing "I hope the power doesn't go out until after Masterpiece Theatre." $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 1037. The Campaign Speeches of Nixon of Kennedy, inscribed to William Safire by Richard Nixon and secretarially for John Kennedy. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 1036. Celebration of the Commencement of Work on Rapid Transit Railroad. March 24th 1900, one o'clock, City Hall Park, New York. $200 to $300.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 1005. 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers signed baseball including Jackie Robinson. $3,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.

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