Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2012 Issue

Literature to 1900 from Peter Harrington

Harrington83

Literature to 1900.

Peter Harrington recently published their Catalogue 83. This latest collection is titled Literature to 1900. It contains items that go all the way back to the beginning of printing (yes, Gutenberg), but nothing past the 19th century. You will find most of the great names in literature and poetry from antiquarian times among the 196 items offered. Without further ado, we will take a look at some of the works.

There is no greater name in the field of literature than that of William Shakespeare. The first edition of his Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies was not published until after the man died, preserved, most thankfully, by friends and associates without whom his works would have undoubtedly been forever lost. The “first folio” was published in 1623, and Shakespeare's works would be published just three more times in the 17th century. Item 136 is a copy of the final of these editions, the fourth folio, published in 1685. The fourth folio includes the seven additional plays added to the third folio, only one of which today is actually recognized as being written by Shakespeare (of course, some people still question whether Shakespeare wrote any of his plays, but that's an issue for another day). Also like the third, the fourth folio dropped the final “e” from Shakespeare's name. It would be returned in the following century. Harrington notes that the fourth folio was actually the preferred edition among collectors until the mid-18th century when, after arguments for primacy by Samuel Johnson and others, the first was established as the most collectible. Nonetheless, all four folios today command great prices, the first in the millions of dollars. Item 136. Priced at £140,000 (British pounds, or roughly $221,673 U.S. Dollars).

Returning to the dawn of time, at least as far as printing is concerned, we go back to the year 1455. Complete Gutenberg Bibles have been virtually unobtainable for a century, and it's hard to imagine when, or even if, another will become available. Those wishing to collect a piece of the first work of movable type printing have needed to do so through a leaf of the Bible. Almost a century ago, New York bookseller Gabriel Wells obtained an imperfect copy and began selling it off in leaves. Most he included with a copy of A Edward Newton's essay, the combined title being A Noble Fragment: Being a Leaf of the Gutenberg Bible, with a bibliographical essay by A. Edward Newton, published in 1921. This leaf comes from Jeremiah, containing chapter 18, and parts of 17 and 19. Item 13. £62,500 (US $98,956).

Many novels make great reading, but few have anywhere near the social impact of this one: Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly. When this first edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic was published in 1852, America was in the midst of its crisis over slavery. There had been rancorous debates in previous years, but there was also hope that the Compromise of 1850 might maintain the peace north versus south, that it might diffuse the confrontations. Stowe's novel was like throwing salt on the wound. It exposed the horrors of slavery in a way dry debate could not. Released on March 20, 1852, it took only a few days for the first printing of 5,000 copies to sell out, and by the end of the month, a second printing of an additional 5,000 copies was gone. Printing and the Mind of Man described the social impact of this book on the United States as “greater than that of any book before or since.” Any hope of a long term reconcilliation between slavery and freedom was seriously eroded by its publication. Item 159. £10,000 (US $15,835).

Item 21 was the spark of the bright, but brief flame that was the career of the Bronte sisters. In 1846, they published a book of poetry, using the masculine (though vague) pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. It was a monumental flop, only 39 of 1,000 copies being distributed, most free. It was not an auspicious start, but in 1847, Charlotte Bronte secured publication for her first novel, Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. Edited by Currer Bell. Still using her pseudonym to disguise her gender, Charlotte achieved great success with her first novel. Her sisters quickly followed with successful novels of their own. The flame of success would be painfully brief. Both of her sisters had died by 1849, and Charlotte only survived until 1855. Recognition came far too late. £50,000 (US $79,173).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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.
  • <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

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