Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2014 Issue

Antique Manuscripts from Justin Croft Antiquarian Books

Catalogue 8.

Justin Croft Antiquarian Books has issued a catalogue with a very simple, one-digit title: 8. That doesn't tell us too much, other than that Croft has probably published seven catalogues prior to this. However, once you begin reading the listings, it becomes clear that this is a catalogue of antiquarian manuscripts. The largest concentration is in French, despite Croft hailing from England, though there are many in English and a few other languages. The great majority were written either by people who are not household names, or are anonymous. The writers weren't exactly ordinary people, as the level of education and means to create such documents a couple of centuries ago implied being among the more privileged in society. They required solid writing skills, both in terms of thought and penmanship. Many are highly illustrated, and if these people did not become great artists, their skills exceeded what most of us possess. This is a fascinating look at life long ago, filled with original (or sometimes copied) words. Here are some examples.

 

We will start with an item that looks to be an unimaginable labor to those of us used to writing on a keyboard. It is an exceptional piece of Victorian calligraphic writing, in “an obsessively neat black letter hand, with minute chapter headings and shoulder notes.” It is a complete copy of the King James version of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is written on smooth paper, allowing for the intricate penwork. Croft notes that it was evidently not intended for use, but perhaps for honing one's penmanship or as an act of sustained contemplation of the Gospels. Item 4. Priced at £1,000 (British pounds, or roughly $1,666 U.S. dollars).

 

Item 10 consists of two manuscript volumes of unpublished poetry circa 1842-1879 entitled Mes Vers. Croft notes it is “a lifetime collection of autograph poetry by a prolific, cultivated and accomplished provincial poetess, comprising several thousand lines.” The poet was Herminie Delavault, who lived most of her life in the small western French town of Poitevin. In the early material, she uses her maiden name of Herminie Vauguyon. Her father was a lawyer, while her husband was notable in the local music scene of the day. Some of her verses were intended to be set to his music. She writes about friends, but also about the issues of 19th century France. She traveled on occasion, with some poems being written in the Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Algiers. There is no indication that any of her poems were ever published. £1,200 (US $2,000).

 

Item 29 contains 47 notebooks written by another young French lady, Claire Sallard, from 1828-1836. That roughly covers ages 9-17. This is part of her learning, with teaching of literary skills by a tutor, but it also provides a look at life in a prosperous French family during the Restoration. Much of the material is autobiographical. She tells us about such things as family visits, shopping, making jam, playing with her siblings, and the activities of their servants (a sure indication they were of reasonable means). There are also a number of morality tales in the over 150,000 words she has written. She later married Paul Huet, a notable landscape painter whose work still hangs in many important art museums. £950 (US $1,582).

 

Next we have a copy of La Sainte Bible, a 1669 edition of the Bible notable for its provenance. This one belonged to a woman who was definitely not ordinary – she was quite extraordinary. It was about Emilie du Chatelet whom Voltaire famously said, she was “a great man whose only fault was being a woman.” That comment referred to the fact that 18th century women were not supposed to be involved in anything much more weighty than housekeeping. Du Chatelet was a brilliant woman, a writer, mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and all-around scholar. Voltaire obviously did not find her being a woman entirely a fault as they conducted an affair for many years. Voltaire spent many of those years living at her country estate, where they helped each other with their studies and writing and amassed a large library. Emilie also had a husband, but he was absent most of the time, and evidently did not mind the relationship when he was present. She was an expert on Newton and translated his Principia to French, adding her commentary. It is still the standard French translation of this work. Among her other works is Examens de la Bible, a refutation of biblical authority based on inconsistencies, contradictions, and mistranslations, the result of ten years of study on the subject with Voltaire. It was a potentially controversial and dangerous piece of writing, unpublished, except in manuscript form, during her lifetime. This Bible includes numerous annotations made by Mme du Chatelet during her studies. £25,000 (US $41,661).

 

Here is another survival from Voltaire and de Chatelet's years together - Histoire du Concile de Trente... by Paulo Sarpi, a French translation published in 1738. It is an impossible to find book from Voltaire's library outside of Russia. There may be fewer than five, though Voltaire possessed a library of some 7,000 books. Voltaire was determined to keep his library together. After he died in 1778, Catherine the Great bought up his entire library and moved it to St. Petersburg, where it remains today. However, this book was evidently left behind in Mme du Chatelet's home after she died in 1749 and Voltaire and his library moved on. £25,000 (US $41,661).

 

Justin Croft Antiquarian Books may be reached at +44 1795 591111 or justin@justincroft.com. The website is www.justincroft.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions