Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2012 Issue

Literary Firsts and Other Notable Editions from Whitmore Rare Books

Whitmore5

Whitmore Rare Books' Catalogue 5.

Whitmore Rare Books has published their Catalogue 5. The Altadena, California, bookseller specializes in “literary first editions and other books of merit.” To that, we will add that most of these are 20th century literary works. Not all, as a 1551 edition of Horapollo's text on Egyptian hieroglyphics will attest, but most are. One more observation we can make about these works is that Whitmore focuses on condition. These are books that are in as excellent a condition as you are likely to find for such titles. Here are a few of the books we found within this fifth Whitmore catalogue.

Before he set off on his famous road trip, Jack Kerouac was busy writing his first novel. It compares life in the early “Beat Generation” city versus small town life. The title is, appropriately enough, The Town and the City. After much searching, he finally managed to find a publisher in 1950. By this time, he had actually completed the journey that would be memorialized in On The Road, but it would take six years after its writing was finished before On The Road would find a publisher. The lack of success of this first novel explains the years of long searching to find a publisher for his second book. On this first, the author's name is given as “John Kerouac.” Item 27. Priced at $1,500.

Item 1 is a signed first edition of the second, and perhaps most significant work from Isaac Asimov, published the same year as his first book (1950): I, Robot. It is really a collection of nine short stories Asimov had written for science fiction magazines during the 1940s. It introduces what would be the common theme of his robot books, the “three laws of robotics.” Asimov grappled with what rules robots would have to unerringly follow if they were not at some point to become a threat to the humans who created them. What he came up with was (1) they could not harm humans, and must always protect humans from harm, (2) they must obey all human commands, unless those commands conflicted with number 1, and (3) they must protect their own existence, provided that did not conflict with numbers 1 and 2. Later, he would realize that there needed to be a rule superior to all of these – protecting mankind, lest a robot be used in some diabolical human's scheme to harm others. $6,500.

Item 59 is an unusual book for an author noted for his humor – Mark Twain. The title is What Is Man, and it is a philosophical look at mankind by the great humorist. The inherent seriousness of the subject does not stop Twain from injecting his usual wit, even as he contends with the serious question of just what is man. The book takes the form of a dialogue, between a rather jaded old man and a young scholar. The older man has concluded that man is nothing more than a machine, predetermined in his actions, seeking nothing deeper than self-satisfaction. For Twain this was a difficult debate, as he found himself believing, for the most part, the older man's arguments, even if they weren't what he might have wished. The book was published by the De Vinne Press in 1906, one of 250 copies. $5,750.

Item 33 is a book that was not terribly popular among evangelical circles in 1927 when it was published. This is Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry, the story of a con-artist who builds a livelihood preaching fire and brimstone. It's a tale hard to forget when one sees some preacher preaching hellfire and contributions. Get thee behind me, Elmer. $1,750.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Antiquarian Books<br>Including a series of views of Milan<br>September 27 to October 4</b></center>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Livius, Historia Romanae decades, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1470, contemporary Morocco. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Blaeu, Nieuw Stedeboeck van Italien (Piemont), The Hague, 1724-1725, 8 volumes, marbled calf gilt. €70,000 to €90,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Baysio, Rosarium decretorum, Venice, 1481, later vellum. €10,000 to €15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> [Niccolò da Poggibonsi], Viaggio da Venetia al santo Sepulchro, Venice, 1529, later half calf. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Hieronymus, Epistole [Italian], Ferrara, 1497, blue crushed morocco with the Rocco di Torrepadula arms. €12,000 to €15,000.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Extensive archive of papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> George Catlin, <i>North American Indian Portfolio,</i> 1844. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures, Carefully Translated…after the Best Jewish Authorities, Philadelphia, 1853-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Wedding book of Eleanor Roosevelt’s bodyguard, Earl Miller, signed by the Roosevelts, 1932. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Textile titled <i>The Resignation of Pres’t Washington,</i> Scotland, circa 1800. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Gideon Welles, Pass for President Lincoln’s White House funeral, 1865. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Confirmation of arms and nobility in favor of the Diez y Mora family, Madrid, 1710. $2,500 to $3,500.
  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> JOYCE, James. <i>Ulysses.</i> London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1937. PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST ENGLISH EDITION PRINTED IN ENGLAND. $50,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [SHACKLETON, Ernest]. –– BROWNING, Robert. <i>Poetical Works of…</i> London: Smith and Elder, 1906. PRESENTED TO SHACKLETON AND THE OFFICERS OF THE NIMROD BY A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York: George R. Lockwood, [1870]. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> ARISTOTLE. Opera, in Greek, parts one and two only: Organon and Natural Philosophy I. Edited by Aldus and others. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1 November 1495–February 1498. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> COOK, James, Capt. [Collected Voyages]. First and Second Voyages: London: W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1773, 1777; Third Voyage: London: H. Hughes for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, 1785. $14,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (“Mark Twain”). <i>The Writings of…</i> Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1899–1900. $12,000 to $16,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>The Poems of…</i> Edited by Frederick S. Ellis. Hammersmith: William Morris for the Kelmscott Press, 1893. $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> LONDON, Jack. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905. PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY LONDON. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CROWLEY, Aleister (1875–1947). <i>The Winged Beetle.</i> London: privately printed, 1910. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> WILDE, Oscar (“C.3.3.”). <i>The Ballad of Reading Gaol.</i> London: Leonard Smithers, January 1898. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> DRYDEN, John. <i>Fables Ancient and Modern; translated into verse from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems.</i> London: John Tonson, 1700. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [MAP]. LINSCHOTEN, Jan Huygen van. <i>Delineatio Orarum Maritimarum…</i> London: John Wolfe, 1598. $3,000 to $4,000.

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