Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2016 Issue

Four Centuries of Knowledge from Shapero Rare Books

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Four Centuries of Knowledge.

Shapero Rare Books has issued a catalogue of Four Centuries of Knowledge 1525-1891. There is no light reading here, no fiction, at least not intentionally so. These books are for thinkers, containing science, math, philosophy and explorations for starters. There are even a couple of encyclopedias for those who want to know everything. Some of the intellectual topics covered can be seen printed on the catalogue's cover. I'm not sure how "bubbles" fits in there, but the rest are quite thought-provoking. Maybe investment bubbles? Here are a few of these works from the age of reason and science.

 

We begin with a book that would prove to be of monumental importance to scientific discoveries of the 19th century, though it was not entirely obvious at the time. Charles Lyell started his career as a lawyer, but his real interest was geology. He studied it thoroughly and from 1830-1833 published the volumes of his groundbreaking conclusions, Principles of Geology, being an attempt to explain the former of the Earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation. Lyell studied such geologic processes as erosion and sedimentation, shifts in the Earth crust, and such and came to a conclusion perhaps implied by the title. He concluded the pace at which such events occurred in the past was the same as it is today. This was of major import as those processes are slow today, and yet most people back then believed the Biblical account, which placed the Earth's age at around 5,000 years. Events seen in the geologic record, if gradual like today rather than catastrophic, required the Earth be much older than 5,000 years. Lyell then went on to look at living organisms, and concluded extinction of species was also a gradual process, resulting from changes in the environment, not catastrophic events. He also believed the appearance of new species must also be a gradual occurrence, though he could not explain how this happened. However, off at sea during this time, to study life and geology in Patagonia, was Charles Darwin, who read Lyell's book. That would set the wheels spinning. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, developed after he returned to England, is a gradual process, requiring Earth be much older than a literal interpretation of the Bible. Armed with the knowledge that Earth was indeed very old, the missing piece to enable the development of species by evolution was in his hands. Item 46. Priced at £10,000 (British pounds, or approximately $13,171 U.S. dollars).

 

Rene Descartes is widely regarded as the starting point of western philosophy. If few today know very much about him, he is still known for one famous quote - "I think, therefore I am." Descartes believed he needed to throw out the philosophies that preceded him, including church doctrine, and start from a new and well-reasoned point. That point needed to be a universal, unassailable truth. To him, the thinking-being connection was it. Descartes distrusted his senses, believing that only reason could determine ultimate truths. While his thoughts became the foundation for modern philosophy, and the rationalists who came after him followed Descartes' model, others would rebel, turning to senses, or more exactly, what was learned through observation, the scientific method, as being the way to understand the world. Item 14 is Descartes' Discours de la methode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences, published in 1637. £110,000 (US $144,946).

 

Next up is a work of political philosophy, a treatise on rights for which much progress has been made, but with many gaps still to fill. Item 39 is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman... by Mary Wollstonecraft. She had started out to write about the rights of man, "man" more its generic meaning rather than gender specific, but her attention turned to those rights denied because of gender. While Wollstonecraft's advocacy of equal rights for women would not be radical today, her book was published in 1792, and was very controversial at the time. Men were in no hurry to abandon their privilege, evidenced by how long it has taken even to reach where we are today. £8,500 (US $11,207).

 

Here is one of those encyclopedias, and the most influential of all. The project started as a plan to translate an earlier encyclopedia to French, but Denis Diderot, its primary editor along with Jean D'Alembert, convinced the publisher to undertake a much greater project. For the next 30 years, volumes of the Encyclopedie were published, running from 1751-1780. Diderot wrote many articles, but 35 volumes requires many writers. He convinced some of the best of the French Enlightenment to contribute, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Condorcet, and Buffon. It covered science, industry, just about everything, as an encyclopedia should. However, what is most notable is its promotion of Enlightenment ideals, a democratic government meant to serve its people, rather than the other way around. Naturally, that made it controversial and at times it was banned. Item 29. £55,000 (US $72,814).

 

Richard Mulcaster was one of the earliest leaders in English education. In 1561, he was appointed as the first headmaster of the Merchant Taylors' School, still in existence today. In 1581, he published Positions wherein those primitive circumstances be examined...which are necessary for the training of children, either for skill in their booke, or health in their bodies. Mulcaster was noted for his reverence of education and was also an advocate for learning in English, at a time when most serious study was conducted in Latin. He even put together a long list of English words, earning a reputation as a pioneering lexicographer, though he did not offer definitions. It was good more for spelling. However, what is perhaps most lasting from this book is the "or health in their bodies" part of the title. Mulcaster strongly believed in the value of physical education. He felt physical and mental health were closely aligned. He promotes such sports as "wrastling," "fensing," running, swimming, and riding. Of greatest importance, however, was a word he coined to describe a street game for which he provided the foundation for an organized team sport – "footeball." He was first to use that name for the game we now know as football (his game featured use primarily of the feet – what Americans call "soccer" rather than American football). Item 4. £25,000 (US $33,129).

 

Shapero Rare Books may be reached at +44 207 493 0876 or rarebooks@shapero.com. Their website is www.shapero.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Harriet Tubman Cabinet Card by H.S. Squyer, Auburn, NY, 1892. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Scarce <i>Events of the Tulsa Disaster,</i> First Edition, 1922. $4,000 to $6,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass by Benjamin F. Smith, 1864. $3,000 to $5,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> California Imprint of <i>President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation</i> Broadside, 1864. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> John C.H. Grabill Cabinet Card of Buffalo Soldier Wearing Buffalo Coat, ca 1886. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare <i>What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,</i> 2nd Cookbook Published by African American. $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Frederick Douglass Walking Stick, 1888. $3,000 to $5,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Only Known Slave Narrative Published Independently in California, <i>Life and Adventures of James Williams.</i> $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare First Edition of History of Black Literature, Abbé Grégoire <i>De La Littérature des Nègres</i>. $2,500 to $3,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> African American Soldier and Medal of Honor Winner Christian A. Fleetwood CDV, PLUS. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries Pennant, 1910 Reno, Nevada. $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Joe Gans Photograph at 1906 Goldfield, Nevada Fight by Percy Dana. $600 to $800
  • <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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