Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2014 Issue

Antiquarian Books, Leaves, and Manuscripts from Phillip J. Pirages

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Antiquarian works from Phillip J. Pirages.

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts has issued Catalogue 65: Vellum Illuminated Manuscript Material, Printed Books from 1505-1799 (and Fine Modern Facsimiles, Early Documents, and Single Printed Leaves). Offered is very early material, printed items ranging mostly from the dawn of printing through the 18th century, and manuscript items sometimes preceding the invention of printing by several centuries. “Antiquarian” is the watchword here. The other common thread is that these items overwhelmingly come from England and continental Europe, as one might expect of early works. That may be a bit surprising for a bookseller located in McMinnville, Oregon, but at some time or other this material made the long journey to the New World.

 

Pirages' catalogues are among the best in the business. The descriptions are thorough and illustrated. There are 571 items, but Pirages has supplied 400 pages to describe them all. Leaving things to your imagination has its place, but not when you are making a purchase. “Clarity” is another watchword for Pirages' catalogues. Here are a few sample items from this latest collection.

 

We will start with one of the earliest pieces, an illuminated manuscript leaf almost a millennium old. This comes from the text in Latin for a Good Friday mass, created in Germany during the late 11th century. It survived by having been used in the binding of a later book. The narrative taken from Matthew has been marked with four letters for different parts, indicating it was recited by four different speakers. Pirages notes this is some of the oldest evidence of liturgical drama. It displays the handwork of a very skilled scribe, though Pirages notes that a few faded lines on the recto were later strengthened by the writing of a less skillful hand. Item 2. Priced at $4,500.

 

Item 199 is a complete vellum manuscript created right around the time Gutenberg was inventing his press - circa 1450. It contains three works written by St. Jerome during the fourth century. Jerome was a fairly orthodox believer who didn't mince words in defending his beliefs. The first work in this trilogy is the Life of Paul the Hermit (Paul of Thebes) who led an ascetic existence in the desert, spending almost a century in a far off cave alone. Jerome approved of this lifestyle. The second is Dialogues Against Pelagius, who denied the concept of original sin. This did not meet with Jerome's views. Pirages notes that Jerome was not entirely logical in his arguments, alluding to Pelagius' corpulence and success with women. The third piece is another condemnation of an opponent who opposed reconciliation with those who had formerly defined the Son as separate from the Father (but had renounced those beliefs). Pirages notes the skilled, concise writing and striking initials in this manuscript. $30,000.

 

Inoculation was a controversial subject in the 18th century. Aside from the fact that injecting people with a disease does not, on its face, sound like a great idea, the outcome was not always the best. Item 341 is An Inquiry into the Merits of a Method of Inoculating the Small-Pox, which is Now Practiced in Several Counties of England, published in 1766. The author was Sir George Baker, who supported the practice. His support was significant as he carried the prestige of being a physician to the royal family. However, at the time, the inoculation used a small amount of material from the diseased patient. The hope was it would only cause a mild case of the disease while building up the recipient's immunity. Unfortunately, sometimes the case was not so mild and the patient died from the “cure.” Still, it improved their odds. It would not be until the later days of the century that the use of harmless cowpox in the injection would provide a safe means of inoculation against smallpox. $950.

 

Item 533 is a rare surviving copy of an early attack on the witch-hunting frenzy of the 16th and 17th centuries: The Discoverie of Witchcraft, wherein the Lewde Dealing of Witches and Witchmongers is Notablie Detected... by Reginald Scot. Published in 1584, people in Salem, Massachusetts, still managed to ignore the message over a century later. Scot divided those accused of witchcraft into four categories, for which he had explanations as to why the accusations were false. There were poor women generally despised by their neighbors, those who were mentally disturbed and may have even believed they possessed supernatural powers, those who used tricks to fool people, and genuinely bad people who sought to harm others, but that did not make them witches. Claiming witchcraft was false was actually heresy in its day, and King James later ordered Scot's book burned, explaining its rarity. The King had written about demonology himself. $80,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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.

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