Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2016 Issue

Incunables and Other Old Books from Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books

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Catalogue 69 from Phillip J. Pirages.

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts has issued Catalogue 69: Incunabula and Other Books Printed before 1800. Topics may vary, but obviously one common thread is these books are very old. It is just a question of how old. The catalogue contains an amazing 35 items of incunabula, along with 200+ other very old items. The earliest are primarily religious items, not surprising as most of what was produced in the early days of printing was religious in nature. Topics broadened out as the years went on. Here, now, are a few of the old books offered in Pirages' latest catalogue.

 

We begin with the oldest item in the catalogue. It isn't a complete book but a leaf. It is hard to find complete copies of books printed before 1460. Item 1 is a vellum leaf from Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, only the fourth book to be printed. It was published in 1459. Like Gutenberg's Bible, it was printed in Mainz, but by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer. Fust loaned money to Gutenberg to start his press, and when the latter was unable to pay his debt, sued and won Gutenberg's equipment. Schoeffer was Gutenberg's assistant. Fust and Schoeffer went into the printing business with the equipment, and printed the second and third books ever printed as well as this, the fourth. The book itself is a treatise on the church, dealing with the history of its liturgy, buildings, offices and such. It was written by Duranti, Bishop of Meade, during the 13th century. Priced at $22,500.

 

This next book is also an item of incunabula, a book of fables printed before the first edition of those of Aesop. Its title is Speculum sapientiae and it is a collection of tales presenting lessons about greed, avarice, arrogance and the like. As with Aesop, it uses animals to display its morality plays. Originally, the book was attributed to Cyril, though I have seen it attributed to two Cyrils – Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived in the fourth century, and Cyril the Apostle to the Slavs, who lived in the ninth. Apparently, it makes no difference, as it is now believed to be the work of Boniohannes de Messana (Messina), who lived in the thirteenth century. This edition was published in Basil, circa 1475. Item 13. $18,000.

 

Next up is a very old medical treatise, Select Observations on English Bodies: Or, Cures Both Empirical and Historical Performed Upon Very Eminent Persons in Desperate Diseases. The author was physician John Hall, and he was related to a very eminent person. He was Shakespeare's son-in-law. He married Shakespeare's daughter Susanna in 1607, and they moved into Dad's house after he died. Hall kept notes of his cases in Latin, which he intended to publish. However, he died in 1635 without having done so. They were obtained by James Cooke who translated them to English and finally had them published in 1657. In his notes, Hall explained the various remedies he used to cure the ill, some of which, Pirages notes, we would now find "alarming." However, Hall was at least restrained in his use of bleeding, the cure-all of the day that made its patients even sicker. Item 162. $6,500.

 

Robert Boyle was a 17th century British scientist considered to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. He was an alchemist, believing one could convert basic metals into those more valuable, but his experiments led to numerous scientific findings of greater accuracy. Item 108 describes one of his important conclusions – Tracts: Containing Suspicions About Some Hidden Qualities of the Air, published in 1674. At the time, air was believed to be one substance. However, Boyle's experiments with combustion and rusting led him to believe that air "is not, as many imagine, a Simple and Elementary body, but a confused Aggregate of Effluvians." His belief came from experiments with a flame under glass which quickly became extinguished. He concluded air must contain "some odd substance, either of a Solar, or Astral, or some other exotic, nature." Of course, what he was describing was oxygen. It would be another century before that element would actually be discovered and identified. $4,500.

 

Thomas Hall was a 17th century minister, a man who took his religion seriously but was probably not a lot of fun to hang out with. Item 132 is his 1654 diatribe The Loathsomness of Long Haire. This man would not have enjoyed the 1960's as his target was long haire on men. He claimed that long hair could become a breeding ground for vermin, which was probably true considering limited opportunities to wash it in those days. However, he appears to have stretched the truth with claims such as that when men in Poland cut off their long hair they lost their eyes or had other body parts grievously damaged. This is either untrue or something that happens only in Poland. Hall speaks approvingly of the work of another fanatic, William Prynne, author of The Unlovelinesse of Love-Lockes, though Hall did not feel he went far enough. Hall also had a few choice words for women, decrying make-up as "the badge of the harlot," and the display of cleavage an invitation to adultery. $3,000.

 

Jean Bodin was a notable French jurist with a reputation for rational discourse and humanism. It makes this book all the more difficult to explain: De la Demonomanie des Sorciers. It is Bodin's work on sorcery, published in 1580. The subject seemed to make him throw out all sense of judicial responsibility. When it came to witchcraft, Bodin was an uncritical believer. Bodin defined a witch as someone who tries to bring about some ungodly act through a pact with the Devil. He had no mercy toward those found to be guilty of witchcraft. Death was the appropriate punishment, fire the preferred means. Judges who did not so punish witches should be punished with death themselves. He argued that this was the only way to appease the wrath of God, which would bring pestilence and other calumnies on nations that did not act severely against witches. On top of this, Bodin believed in throwing out all normal legal protections when someone was accused of sorcery. He claimed that no one accused of witchcraft should be "acquitted and set free unless the calumny of the accuser is clearer than the sun, inasmuch as the proof of such crimes is so obscure and so difficult that not one witch in a million would be accused or punished if the procedure were governed by the ordinary rules." Indeed, he was right, not one in a million so accused would have been convicted, but he failed to recognize the correct reason was that they were innocent, which is why those protections were put there in the first place. He also failed to see that when accusations become tantamount to conviction, false accusations will surely follow. Item 242. $9,500.

 

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts may be reached at 503-472-0476 or info@pirages.com. Their website is www.pirages.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Nebel, Carl. The War Between the United States and Mexico. New York, 1851. $270,000 - $300,000 MXN / USD $15,000 - $16,666
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Nebel, Carl. The War Between the United States and Mexico. New York, 1851. $270,000 - $300,000 MXN / USD $15,000 - $16,666
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Bolaños, Joaquín. La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte... (“The Portentous Life of Death”) México, 1792. $50,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,777 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Tratado de Paz… entre la República Mexicana y los Estados Unidos. (“Treaty of Peace… Between the Mexican Republic and the United States”) 1848. $80,000 - $90,000 MXN / USD $4,444 - $5,000
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Fabregat, Josep Joaquín. Vista de la Plaza de México… (“View of the Square of Mexico”) México, 1797. $60,000 - $100,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $5,555
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Hidalgo y Costilla, Miguel. Invitación al Coronel Narciso de la Canal… (“Invitation to Coronel Narciso de la Canal…”) 1810. $170,000 - $200,000 MXN / USD $9,444 - $11,111
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Gálvez, Joseph de. Real Cédula de Erección de la Compañía de Filipinas. (“Royal Notice of the Creation of the Company of the Philippines”) 1785. $40,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,222 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Colección de Constituciones de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (“Collection of Constitutions of the United Mexican States”) México, 1828. $50,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,777 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Ruelas, Julio. Poemario Manuscrito Ilustrado, Dedicado a Lorencita Braniff (“Collection of Illustrated Poem Manuscripts, Dedicated to Lorencita Braniff”). 1903. $60,000 - $70,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $3,888
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Espinosa de los Monteros, Juan J. Aviso de la Junta Soberana al Público (“Notice of the Sovereign Meeting to the Public”) 1821. $60,000 - $80,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $4,444
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos... (“Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States”) México, 1824. $140,000 - $150,000 MXN / USD $7,777 - $8,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Alcaraz, Ramón. Apuntes para la Historia de la Guerra entre México y los EU (“Notes on the History of the War between Mexico and the United States”). 1848. $40,000 - $50,000 MXN / USD $2,222 - $2,777
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest Hemingway's Typewriter Used to Write "A Moveable Feast", Impeccable Provenance From His Biographer A. E. Hotchner. $50,000 to $100,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Samuel Colt, "The Gun that Won the West": 3 Signed Patent Items for "Revolving Cylinder Guns". $40,000 to $50,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Jack Kerouac's Own Typewriter From His Estate Used to Write His Very Last Book. $18,000 to $20,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Rare Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence Printed in 1848. $15,000 to $18,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Superb Tchaikovsky ALS to Napravnik, 4pp on "Mazeppa". $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Wounded Knee Massacre Same Day Eyewitness Account by Participant, "the 7th needn't be ashamed of today's record". $10,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> F. Scott Fitzgerald Signed Gordon Bryant Portrait -- Finest Known. $8,000 to $9,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Neil Armstrong ALS on NASA Letterhead Regarding His X-15 Flights. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> M. Gandhi Letter: "the life span of human beings is preordained..." -- Fantastic Spiritual Content. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> "Damn the torpedoes!" Riveting 24pp ALS of Admiral Farragut's Steward Describing the "Battle of Mobile Bay”. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Abraham Lincoln Signed Order to Suspend Execution. $5,000 to $6,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Napoleon DS Featuring Imperial Eagle and Enormous Great Seal Appointing Norman Politician Baron of the Empire. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.

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