Exceptional Books and Manuscripts from Peter Harrington

- by Michael Stillman


Exceptional Books and Manuscripts from Peter Harrington

Next we have the book described by Printing and the Mind of Man as “the greatest work in the history of science.” Item 56 is Sir Issac Newton's Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, the scientist's discourse on the laws of motion and gravity. Harrington explains it was “the first successful scientific model of the mechanisms of the universe.” Copernicus and Galileo had explained what was happening out there in space, but Newton was the one who provided the universal laws that explain why. Offered is a copy of the 1687 first edition, one of likely only 300-400 copies printed. They sold out quickly, but Newton did not republish his book until a quarter of a century later. This is a copy of the three-line imprint, rarer than the two-line one (perhaps 70-135 copies). This version was given to bookseller Samuel Smith, most likely for foreign distribution. £185,000 (US $303,577).

Item 42 is a first edition, first printing of John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Its Kennedy's account of the courageous stances and actions of eight U.S. senators, including John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster from his native Massachusetts, Texan Sam Houston, and others up to Robert Taft of Ohio, with whom he served. This is a remarkable copy as it is warmly inscribed, “To Carmine De Sapio, with the very highest regards of the author, John Kennedy.” De Sapio was at the time (1956) the current (and last) leader of New York's Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was the source of numerous New York political bosses, and plenty of corruption to go around. De Sapio was more of a reformer than most bosses, but a boss tinged with his share of corruption nonetheless. He paved the way for minorities to succeed in political office, but sold judgeships and cozied up to organized crime. In 1956, De Sapio was at the height of his power, the ultimate political kingmaker. Just five years later, he would be defeated from his local leadership post by reformers and with it lost his status as “boss.” Eventually, he served a couple of years in prison for bribery and extortion. £16,500 (US $27,075).

Peter Harrington may be reached at +44 (0)20 7591 0220 or books@peterharrington.co.uk. Their website is www.peterharrington.co.uk.