Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2014 Issue

Modern Literature from Peter Harrington

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Modern Literature.

Peter Harrington has released a catalogue of Modern Literature. This is a collection of literary works from the 20th century, mostly mid to later in the century. For many readers, these will be the books you grew up with, the ones that were new when you were young(er). So, we will take a look back, but not too far, at a few of these modern classics.

 

We will start with the item depicted on the catalogue's cover. It is a play by Joseph Heller, the title being We Bombed in New Haven. Heller is best known as the author of the 1961 novel, and a decade later the film, Catch 22. Heller can't be accused of being a prolific writer, churning out material as fast as the presses can run. It took him a decade to write Catch 22, and this his second work didn't come until six years later, in 1967. It would be another seven years until he finally published his second novel. In this play, Heller revisits the subject of his first work, the absurdity of war and of the behavior of those who must carry it out. The title is a play on plays, bombing in New Haven, where many Broadway plays are first performed, being a synonym for a play that failed before an audience. However, in this case it refers to the bombing that takes place during a war. Its release at the time when public opinion was rapidly turning against the Vietnam War made its message particularly current for its day, though it could apply to any age. Naturally enough, the play opened in New Haven, put on by the Yale School of Drama, before making its way to Broadway, where it didn't “bomb,” but had only a modest run of 85 performances. This copy of the play has been inscribed by Heller “To Jane Biberman, who typed the first draft of this play for me – and did it incorrectly.” Ms. Biberman has gone on to have a career as a journalist and writer. We will assume the “incorrectly” part was a joke between the parties. Item 169. Priced at £450 (British pounds, or roughly $757 U.S. dollars).

 

This next title will make older readers think of Edward G. Robinson, younger readers think of pizza. Item 40 is a 1929 first edition of Little Caesar, by W. R. Burnett. Burnett had a chance to see the seedier side of life when he wrote his introductory novel. It is a tale of a small time hoodlum who makes his way up the ladder of organized crime, until its denouement with his inevitable downfall. It would be turned into a movie two years later, with the then unknown Edward G. Robinson in the title role. It was the grandaddy of the organized crime films that remain popular to this day. This copy has been signed by Burnett. £4,500 (US $7,578).

 

Item 343 is the book that launched a career that even as it burned brightly, was sinking below the waves. It is a first edition, first issue from 1934 of Dylan Thomas' 18 Poems. Thomas, who was all of 20 at the time, had had several poems published in various periodicals. His work caught the eye of T. S. Eliot and others who had his first collection of poetry printed. Unfortunately, Thomas was already embarking on a road to self-destruction. He would need financial assistance from friends for much of his too short life, as the brilliant writer sunk deeper and deeper into an alcoholic haze. He never made it to his 39th birthday. £2,500 (US $4,209).

 

Speaking of Mr. Eliot, he had his share of personal issues with an unhappy marriage in 1922 when he published his most notable poem, The Waste Land. Fortunately, he never succumbed to too much drink, thereby living a suitably long life. His somewhat obscure and despairing work was printed in 1,000 copies, this being #277 and a first issue of the first edition. Item 87. £22,500 (US $37,887).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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