Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2014 Issue

Fine Bindings from Phillip J. Pirages

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Bindings.

Phillip J. Pirages has prepared a catalogue of books distinguished more by what's on the outside than inside. Yes, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. The title is Catalogue 66: Interesting Books in Historically Significant and Decorative Bindings, from the 15th Century to the Present. As the title suggests, many of these are interesting books, some not so much, but for the most part that really doesn't matter. These are for viewing, not reading, works of art one would not want to batter around holding up and reading page by page. What we have are some of the most exquisite bindings you will ever see. Handle with care.

 

It is hard to describe bindings, so we will tell a little about a few of these books. There are technical descriptions of the various bindings and techniques used, and those more familiar with these processes really need to get a copy of this catalogue. Others should too, as the covers are shown in photographs that accompany the descriptions. Bindings expert or not, you will enjoy the view.

 

We start with one of those books that is interesting for its content as well as its binding. It is a copy of De Patientia, by Giovanni Baptista Mantuanus, a 1499 edition following the first of 1497. Like most books of its era, it is a theological treatise. This copy was bound in the bindery of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Matthias in Trier (Germany). It features such attributes as raised bands, a fore-edge brass clasp, and other indicia of the loving work expected from a religious order. While a work on meditations, this book is notable as it also has some medical content and contains one of the earliest references to the discovery of America. A section talks of physical illnesses that try monks' patience and some of the remedies that can be used. The book also mentions “islands inhabited by man, also much larger than ours,” unknown to the ancients but recently found through the efforts of the Spanish monarchs. Item 2. Priced at $22,500.

 

Item 18 is Enarratio in Essiam Prophetam and two other mid-16th century works bound together in a binding fit for a pope. Indeed, the armorial red Roman morocco was prepared for Pope Pius V, who led the church from 1566-1572. Pius V was known as an austere pope, doing away with much of the nepotism and other spoils that plagued the church before him. This binding might appear to run contrary to that austerity, but such beautiful art would have been a sign of respect rather than extravagance. Pope Pius V served in difficult times, the Protestant Reformation then spreading and battle lines being formed. He would be a supporter of the Inquisition, war against the Turks, and excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I for heresy, releasing her subjects from allegiance to her (which only led the Queen to crack down on Catholics who had more or less been tolerated). $17,500.

 

This next binding may not have been fit for a pope, but it was fit for a Rockefeller, which isn't bad. Item 131 is The Oxford Museum, by John Ruskin and H. W. Acland, published in 1859. The binding came a bit later – 1915 – and it was created by the Doves Bindery. The Doves Bindery was associated with the legendary Doves Press of T. J. Cobden-Sanderson, a close friend and associate of William Morris. Before starting his press, Cobden-Sanderson had been a bookbinder, and one of the best of the second half of the 19th century. While he no longer personally bound books at the time of the Doves Bindery, he was involved with designs and overseeing of the work. Based on the stamped date on the binding, this would have come very close to the end of the bindery's run. Co-author John Ruskin was an architect whose design inspired Cobden-Sanderson, making this work a natural for one of his bindings. This copy came from the library of Edith Rockefeller McCormick of Chicago. She was the fourth daughter of John D. Rockefeller. She was noted for philanthropy (what else could a Rockefeller do?) and built the largest collection of Doves bindings ever offered at auction (121 titles with 152 volumes sold after she died). Mrs. McCormick was married twice, once to Harold McCormick, son of Cyrus McCormick, in a marriage that ended quite unhappily. The other marriage was to Egyptian King Tutankhamen, which hopefully ended better. Some dispute the reality of that marriage, but Mrs. McCormick believed in reincarnation and made the newspapers for claiming to have once been the bride of the boy-king of ancient Egypt. She said the discovery of his tomb reignited ancient memories. $9,000.

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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