Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2005 Issue

Many Topics from James Cummins Bookseller

R0604

James Cummins latest catalogue with George Washington on the cover.


By Michael Stillman

James Cummins Bookseller
has released his 92nd catalogue. It is broken into five sections: miscellaneous, Americana, science and medicine, travel and maritime, and printing history. That should be enough of a range to interest just about any collector. These are some of the items you will find.

Item 30 is a most intriguing book for anyone with an interest in early photography. It is Thoughts on the Philosophy of Light, by William Newton, published in Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1843. It speaks of the properties of light and their implications on the future of photography. Although the astonishing development of black and white photography was only a few years old at the time, Newton was already predicting color photography. His argument was that if plates could use the impact of light rays to capture form, there was no reason why the same could not be done to capture color. It would take almost another century, but his prediction would come true. Newton also foresaw photography as a means of mapping the stars. This, too, might have seemed a bit far out at the time, the light from stars being too faint for the crude early processes. However, Newton argued, "the object which is sufficiently near to make an impression on the eye, is not too distant to produce a similar impression on a properly prepared metallic plate..." Cummins' copy carries an inscription from Newton to his brother Richard. Priced at $2,500.

This marvelous invention to capture and preserve images would be commonplace a few decades later, when famed Indian fighter General George Armstrong Custer sat for the portrait offered as item 48. This one comes with a most interesting provenance. It was presented by Custer's widow, Elizabeth, to his friend the famed western showman Buffalo Bill Cody. Cody served as a guide for Russian Grand Duke Alexis in the company of Custer in 1872. In the summer of 1876, he served as a scout for the 5th Cavalry. Some officers at the time speculated that Custer might never have fallen into the trap at the Little Big Horn if Cody had been scouting for the 7th Cavalry instead. Buffalo Bill soon thereafter permanently retired from the scouting business, and put together his Wild West Show, which made him the household name he is today, almost nine decades after his death. This photograph carries the inscription "For my husband's unwavering friend Col Cody," along with the signature, "Elizabeth B. Custer." $3,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions