Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2017 Issue

Sciences, Japanese & Chinese Books, Bibliography and More from Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller

Catalogue 218.

Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller has published his Catalogue 218, also described on the cover as "45 Years," celebrating his number of years in the book world. Assuredly, the importance of the material he features has grown with the years. This looks like a book not a catalogue, a hard-bound octavo an inch thick. You will learn much about history simply by reading the descriptions of the books being offered. It is filled with titles that range from significant to extremely important. This is a collection of major works, intended for those who collect at the highest level.

 

The catalogue is divided into four sections. The first is Science, Medicine, and Natural History. It is filled with the discoveries that pushed humanity from its thousand years of deep sleep to the onrush of scientific learning that accompanied the invention of printing. It led to advances in the past 500 years that far exceed all of those accomplished in our first few million years of existence. The second section is Japanese & Chinese Books, Manuscripts, and Scrolls. These are obviously fine items, though I lack the expertise to comment meaningfully. The third part is Books in Many Fields, which is hard to describe for a different reason – it covers too many things to pinpoint. The fourth part covers Bibliography and the History of Book Collecting, which contains bibliographies, collection catalogues, auction catalogues, and other books about books. This is an exceptional catalogue. Here, now, are a few samples from its pages.

 

We begin with a very old book with an even older history. Item 104 is Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, by Beda (the Ecclesiastical History of England by the Venerable Bede). This is a first printed edition, from no later than 1475, of a book that was completed in the year 731. While styled a church history, it is actually a history of all sort of things going on in England, from the Roman conquest under Julius Caesar in the first century up to the "present," which was then the eighth century. Bede has been described as "the greatest English historian," and "the Father of English History." The spread of Christianity through the land is covered in the work, but so are the political activities of the times and the history of the Anglo-Saxon tribes. Since there is scant historical record of these times available, this book is critical to the knowledge of English history. This first printed edition was published in Strasbourg, which is not quite as surprising as it might sound. Publisher Heinrich Eggestyne was aware of what type of books would appeal to the laity, and he likely recognized that this history would interest educated readers in both England and on the continent, which indeed it did. Priced at $150,000.

 

Next is another first printed edition of an even earlier historical work, which ends around the time Bede's history begins. Item 128 is a first edition of De Antiquitate Judaica. De Bello Judaica, by Flavius Josephus, published in 1470. It is a history of the Jewish people, focused in particular on the time of the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66, but ranging back about two centuries earlier. Josephus was a Jew who had traveled to Rome, but returned to Jerusalem at the time of the revolt. While having doubts about the wisdom of a rebellion against powerful Roman forces, he joined in and was captured. Josephus was able to preserve his own life by prophesying that Roman commander Vespasian would become emperor. Obviously, this prediction pleased Vespasian, but he imprisoned Josephus in case it was just a line to save his own skin. When the prophesy came true three years later, Josephus was freed, given a nice house in Rome, citizenship and a pension. It enabled him to spend his time writing histories. Josephus and his history have stirred much controversy, but like Bede's book, it is one of the few that provide true historical information about their times. Josephus' surrender and saving his own life, rather than giving his life in battle, did not make him popular among the Jewish people. His antiquities contains brief references to Jesus, the earliest such non-scriptural references, but since the earliest surviving copies of Josephus' book were created several centuries later, some have questioned whether these references accurately reflect what Josephus wrote. $450,000.

 

This item is described by Hill as "the first great scientific work published in England." Item 27 is De Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure, by William Gilbert, published in 1600. Gilbert's work is noted for his early use of experimental methods to reach scientific conclusions, obvious today, not so then. His treatise focuses on magnetism. Gilbert concluded that the earth is a giant lodestone, in effect a giant magnet, which explained the working of a compass. He also talked about a separate attractive force, that of amber, today known as static electricity. It was Gilbert who coined the term "electricity," which comes from the Greek word for amber. He recognized that this was not the same force as magnetism. $65,000.

 

Item 90 is a manuscript entitled Kin shi (the natural history of mushrooms). It is the work of Katashi Masujima, with a preface dated 1811 and created in Japan. It includes 134 mostly color illustrations of mushrooms of Japan and China. Copies of this work were created and circulated from 1811, but it was never printed until a facsimile copy was published 2011. The text covers what had been written about the mushrooms by Japanese and Chinese authors. $15,000.

 

Next up is what Hill calls "the most exclusive bookseller's catalogue ever issued." It is also one of the strangest. The title is Here Begyneth a Littel Tome and Hathe to Name The Lincolne Nosegay: beynge a Brefe Table of Certaine Bokes in the Posession of Maister Thomas Frognall Dibdin Clerk. It was produced by the famed bibliophile and writer about books Thomas Frognall Dibdin. Dibdin had purchased the 19 books in the catalogue from the Lincoln Cathedral for 500 guineas. In a 1967 listing, Sotheby's less charitably used the word "raped" instead of purchased. Dibdin then turned around and created this bookseller's catalogue of sorts in what Sotheby's in 2015 described as "pseudo-Middle English." All of that notwithstanding, it immediately became highly collectible. That reflects the fact that only 36 copies were printed, 31 given to members of the Roxburghe Club, and Dibdin was highly regarded in book circles. It was so desirable that within a year of its publication date of 1814, a very good forgery was produced, some say with Dibdin's knowledge. Item 18. $75,000.

 

Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller may be reached at 646-827-0724 or jonathan@jonathanahill.com. The website is www.jonathanahill.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 546. Christoph Jacob Trew. Plantae selectae, 1750-1773.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 70. Thomas Murner. Die Narren beschwerung. 1558.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 621. Michael Bernhard Valentini. Museum Museorum, 1714.
    Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 545. Sander Reichenbachia. Orchids illustrated and described, 1888-1894.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1018. Marinetti, Boccioni, Pratella Futurism - Comprehensive collection of 35 Futurist manifestos, some of them exceptionally rare. 1909-1933.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 634. August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof. 3 Original Drawings, around 1740.
    Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 671. Jacob / Picasso. Chronique des Temps, 1956.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1260. Mary Webb. Sarn. 1948. Lucie Weill Art Deco Binding.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 508. Felix Bonfils. 108 large-format photographs of Syria and Palestine.
    Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 967. Dante Aligheri and Salvador Dali. Divina Commedia, 1963.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1316. Tolouse-Lautrec. Dessinateur. Duhayon binding, 1948.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1303. Regards sur Paris. Braque, Picasso, Masson, 1962.
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: McCarthy (Cormac). Cities of the Plain, N.Y., 1998, First Edn., signed on hf. title; together with Uncorrected Proof and Uncorrected Advance Reading Copies, both signed by the Author. €800 to €1,000.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Stanihurst (Richard). De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis, Libri Quattuor, sm. 4to Antwerp (Christi. Plantium) 1584. First Edn. €525 to €750.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Fleischer (Nat.) Jack Dempsey The Idol of Fistiana, An Intimate Narrative, N.Y., 1929, First Edn. Signed on f.e.p. by Rocky Marciano. €400 to €600.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Smith - Classical Atlas, Lond., 1820. Bound with, Smiths New General Atlas .. Principal Empires, Kingdoms, & States throughout the World, Lond. 1822. €350 to €500.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Rare Auction Catalogues – 1856: Bindon Blood, of Ennis, Co. Clare: Sotheby & Wilkinson. €320 to €450.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: [Mavor (Wm.)] A General Collection of Voyages and Travels from the Discovery of America to the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century, 28 vols. (complete) Lond., 1810. €300 to €400.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Mc Carthy (Cormac). Outer Dark, N.Y. (Random House)1968, Signed by Mc Carthy. €250 to €300.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Three signed works by Ted Huges - Wodwo, 1967; Crow from the Life and Songs of the Crow, 1970; and Tales from Ovid, 1997. €200 to €300.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: The Garden. An Illustrated Weekly Journal of Horticulture in all its Branches, 7 vols. lg. 4to Lond. 1877-1880. With 127 colored plates. €200 to €300.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Procter (Richard A.) Saturn and its System: Containing Discussions of The Motion (Real and Apparent)…, Lond. 1865. First Edn. €160 to €220.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: [Ashe] St. George, Lord Bishop of Clogher, A Sermon Preached to the Protestants of Ireland, now in London,... Oct. 23, 1712, London 1712. Second Edn. €130 to €180.
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions