Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2014 Issue

Natural History as Art from Shapero Rare Books

Natural History 2014.

Shapero Rare Books has issued a detailed and heavily illustrated catalogue entitled Natural History 2014. With 180 pages devoted to 60 items, descriptions are thorough, images numerous. Naturally, these are items deserving of such complete treatment. They are important. While this is certainly not a collection generally labeled as “book arts,” these are items whose illustrations are works of art. Beauty runs through their pages as clearly as information. Here are some samples of these fine works.

 

Among all of the members of the animal kingdom, none has garnered quite the artistic reputation within the book world as birds, thanks in no small part to one John James Audubon. We start with a natural history book that is not limited to birds, nor even to animals, yet it is one of major importance when it comes to illustrations of birds: The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands; Containing the Figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects, and Plants... This is the great work of English naturalist Mark Catesby, who twice spent lengthy visits in southern North America between 1712 and 1726. This first edition was published in parts (1729-1743 with later additions through 1771). Catesby did not have the typical university training, but learned much on his own, visited America, and brought back numerous specimens to be viewed by others. He was artistically skilled, and later perfected these skills so as to create his own illustrations. In time he even hand-colored the 220 plates himself, a total of 34,320 plates in the 156 sets. While Catesby presented many types of fauna and flora, his first publication of illustrations of American birds earned him the title of “the father of American ornithology.” He was the first to place his birds in natural settings, rather than having them look like stuffed animals. Item 7. Priced at £400,000 (British pounds, or roughly $686,260).

 

Audubon was certainly the greatest illustrator of American birds, but for England and several other lands, that honor goes to John Gould. Item 1 is a magnificent collection of Gould's bird books (plus one of mammals) published between 1832 and 1887. Gould was an ornithologist and great artist, his work prolific through a 50-year career. He illustrated birds of his native England, as Audubon did of America, but his work extended far beyond his home turf. The collection not only contains Birds of Great Britain, but of Europe, Asia, Australia, New Guinea, the Himalayas (his first) and various parts of the world, and includes his books dedicated to toucans, partridges, hummingbirds, and trogons. The twelfth book is his Mammals of Australia. All are first editions except the one on trogons, that being the greatly expanded (including 12 new species) second edition which Gould described as “in reality a new publication” as all plates were redrawn. Compiling a complete collection, especially in such exceptional condition, of Gould's work would be difficult today. £1,500,000 (US $2,575,000).

 

Next we turn to John James Audubon, but not to his birds. Unlike Gould, Audubon produced only two great works. Having completed his book on birds, Audubon took on American mammals. The result was The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, published from 1845-1854. This first edition of Quadrupeds was like his Birds, an oversized (elephant folio) collection of magnificent colored drawings of American beasts, many of which would be at best obscure to readers back east. This work Audubon would co-author with Rev. John Bachman, a close friend and later father-in-law of both of Audubon's sons. Bachman was also an expert on mammals, allowing him to provide the text while Audubon drew the illustrations. However, Audubon's eyesight and memory would dim as the project proceeded, leaving it to those two sons to complete the work. Item 3. £400,000 (US $686,260).

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

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