Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2014 Issue

Great Literature from Whitmore Rare Books

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Catalogue 9.

Catalogue 9 has been released by Whitmore Rare Books, “offering literary first editions and other books of merit.” “Literature” describes most of the items offered, though that might be a stretch for a few, such as Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat, David Embury's classic Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, or a manuscript appointment of a successor as Lord Chancellor for Sir Francis Bacon when he was put on trial in 1621. In hindsight, he might better have joined the pilgrims, as the great philosopher was convicted of corruption and banned from public office for life. Here are a few more of the books to be found within this ninth catalogue.

 

Perhaps Bacon felt like “K,” the protagonist in Franz Kafka's The Trial. This is a 1937 first American edition of a book originally published in German in 1925, the year after Kafka died. K goes through surreal proceedings by a court of unknown judges and unknown authority, not even told the charges against him. The charges come to dominate his life as K remains in the dark about what is going on, seeking help from a lawyer and others who seem to know more than he, but not enough to be of much use. A year later, the poor man is taken away and executed. Kafka's masterpiece was never finished. He didn't even want it published. Kafka had written the work 10 years earlier, and left instructions to his literary executor to burn his papers when he died. Fortunately, the executor ignored his wishes and published the book. Item 49. Priced at $4,250.

 

K was unable to extricate himself from his predicament, but if there is one man who could have escaped from it, or anything else, it would be the one-time owner of this book. Item 45 is a copy of Natural Magick, a 1658 first English language edition of a book by John Baptist Porta, originally published in 1558. Porta was an Italian “scientist,” perhaps a scientist for his era. His work includes legitimate science, along with magic, the occult, alchemy, and just about anything else that crossed the mind of the inquisitive gentleman. This book precedes the era of the scientific method, Porta gathering his “knowledge” wherever he could, from ancient writings to his own observations. This copy of Porta's book is notable for its provenance. It was once owned by the most renown magician ever, Harry Houdini. The master of escapes has signed his name, and made a few notations. Houdini has placed a notation for “INKS” on page 350. This section reveals how to make invisible ink and invisible writing. $22,500.

 

Kafka wasn't the only author to leave behind an unfinished book. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had gone six years without a novel, having turned to film scripts for money, was working on another when he died. Fitzgerald's was a tormented life, and years of drink had depleted his health. A couple of heart attacks at the age of 44 finished him off. He had partly finished a novel about the rise to power of a film producer, a subject with which he would have been familiar from his late-in-life work in Hollywood. With help from notes about the unfinished parts, The Last Tycoon was published in 1941, the year after his death. Item 27. $1,250.

 

Item 64 is a long-forgotten book that was “found” a couple of decades ago, and then swept into the public consciousness with a recent film of the same name, Twelve Years A Slave. Solomon Northup's account of his 12 years on a Louisiana plantation was published in 1853, a year after Uncle Tom's Cabin, quickly selling 30,000 copies to readers seeking a nonfictional account of what slavery was like. Northup was a free black man, a farmer and a violinist from upstate New York when he was enticed to come to Washington, D.C., ostensibly to play the violin. Instead, he was kidnapped, slavery still being legal in the nation's capital, and transported to Louisiana. Control over slaves was such that Northup was unable to get a message to his family back home. He toiled for 12 years on the plantation before convincing an itinerant Canadian carpenter, working temporarily on the plantation, to send letters back to New York. Eventually, Northup was rescued by the son of his father's former owner (from the days slavery was legal in New York) and officials of the State of New York. Northup wrote his book and spoke to abolitionist audiences for the next few years, but in 1857 disappeared again, and no one knows what became of him (it is not believed he was kidnapped into slavery a second time). $8,500.

 

We will conclude with some much lighter reading, a return to very early childhood. Item 6 may be one of the first books you ever read, or someone read to you. It is Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon. It could be argued that Clement Hurd's illustrations made this book more than Brown's lyrics, though simple as they are, they were just right for this story. It is as magical as it is simple, and it lights up the eyes of any young child to whom this story is read. I say that from personal experience. This first edition was published in 1947. $650.

 

Whitmore Rare Books may be reached at 626-297-7700 or info@whitmorerarebooks.com. Their website is www.WhitmoreRareBooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Frederick Douglass, ALS recruiting help for his paper after schism with Garrison, Rochester, 1851. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> James Dean, photograph by Sanford H. Roth, signed & inscribed by Dean. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Richard Wagner, ALS requesting confirmation that the Grand Duke received his letter, 1863. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Benjamin Rush, ALS, doctor’s note for a Revolutionary soldier, 1780. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Lord Byron, ALS to Cambridge classmate, “your friendship is of more account to me than all these absurd vanities,” c. 1812. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author’s first book, Paris, 1923. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ralph Ellison, <i>Invisible Man,</i> first English edition of the author’s first novel, signed, London, 1953. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Margery Lawrence, <i>The Madonna of Seven Moons,</i> first edition in unrestored dust jacket, Indianapolis, 1933. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Joseph Albers, <i>Interaction of Color,</i> 80 color screenprints, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1963. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Albert Einstein, autograph manuscript, unsigned, likely a draft discarded while working toward a unified field theory. $10,000 to $20,000.
  • <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Verlag, Luzern, Publishers: <i>The Book of Kells,</i> the most precious illuminated manuscript of the early Middle Ages, now reproduced, the FIRST AND ONLY COMPLETE FINE ART FACSIMILE EDITION. €5,000 to €6,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone,</i> 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1997, First Deluxe Edn., Signed by the Author on title page. €4,000 to €5,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Gilbert (John T.) Account of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, from the earliest extant specimens to A.D. 719. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> <i>The Georgian Society Records of Eighteenth-Century Domestic Architecture in Dublin [-Ireland],</i> 5 vols. lg. 4to D. 1909 - 1913. Limited Editions. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (W.B.) <i>The Poems of W.B. Yeats,</i> 2 vols., roy 8vo, L. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949, Limited Edn., No. 185 (of 375 copies). Signed. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Crone (John S.)ed. <i>The Irish Book Lover, A Monthly Review of Irish Literature and Bibliography.</i> Vol. I No 1 August 1909 - Vol. XXXII No. 6, September 1957. €1,250 to €2,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (John Butler) <i>An original self-portrait Sketch,</i> Signed and dated April 1919, N[ew] York. €1,200 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Photograph Album. Entitled ''A Souvenir of the Visit to Jeypore Samasthanam of His Excellency the Right Hon'ble Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst… 14th December 1927''. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Pistolesi (Erasmo) <i>Il Vaticano,</i> 8vols. large atlas, folio Rome (Tipografia della Societa..) 1829. €500 to €600.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Chagall (Marc)illus., Legmarie (Jean) comp., <i>The Jerusalem Windows,</i> folio N.Y. (George Braziller) 1962. €400 to €500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Bullitt (Thos. W.) <i>My Life at Oxmoor,</i> Life on a Farm in Kentucky before the War. Roy 8vo Louisville, Kentucky, 1911. Privately Printed No. 86 of 100 Copies Only. €300 to €400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Popish Plot: Oates (Titus) <i>The Popes Whore House or The Merchandise of The Whore of Rome,</i> folio L. 1679. First Edn. €100 to €150.

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