Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2018 Issue

Erasmushaus Offers European Antiquarian Books in Their Rare Book List I

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Rare Book List 1.

Erasmushaus recently published their Rare Book List I. That is not what it might imply. This is hardly the Swiss bookseller's first catalogue. Last I knew, they had published around 930 numbered catalogues and 52 of their Intermezzos. This is just a different format. Indeed, they have been selling books since 1800. In other words, they have been around longer than some of the antiquarian books they now sell. Here are a few selections from their first book list, but latest of many printed collections.

 

We start with a book that is an amazing if odd achievement. It comes from the noted Italian typographer and printer Giambattista Bodoni. He was the creator of the still common Bodoni typefaces. The title is Oratio Dominica in 155. linguas versa et exoticis characteribus plerumque expressa, and it was published in 1806. What this is is the "Our Father," or Lord's Prayer, printed in 155 different languages. Fifty-eight of these are Latin-based languages, including italics, but the other 97 are "exotic" languages. Naturally, this presented a great challenge to Bodoni. He didn't have 97 exotic typefaces for languages he never before printed sitting around the shop. He had to design all of them himself. The book is divided into four sections, covering the languages of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. However, the preface and dedication was limited to three languages, French, Italian, and Latin. It was dedicated to Eugene de Beauharnais, viceroy of Italy under Napoleon. De Beauharnais was the son of Empress Josephine and the stepson of Napoleon. He liked the book so much that he bought up all 180 copies printed on behalf of the government, which later sold them to others. Item 8. Priced at CHF 6,000 (Swiss francs, or approximately $6,175 U.S. dollars).

 

Next we have the masterpiece of the Enlightenment, Encyclopedie, ou dictionnaire raisonne des sciences des arts et des metiers... by Denis Diderot and Jean d'Alembert. Diderot and d'Alembert were the major writers of this massive compilation of human knowledge, though many other great French minds of the day, including Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Buffon, provided important contributions. While a vast compilation of knowledge, the Encyclopedia also promoted the ideals of the Enlightenment, reason and governments that served their people, rather than the other way around. Item 20 is a copy of the Swiss edition, published in 39 volumes 1778-1781. This was the octavo edition, following earlier folio and quarto editions. It was more convenient for use, but more importantly, it was less expensive. By being more affordable, it opened the doors to learning to people of lesser means than the more wealthy who could afford the larger editions. This is not to say that it reached the poor who could not afford books even if they could read them, but to people more the equivalent of the middle class, educated, of some profession, but still on limited budgets. CHF 12,000 (US $12,395).

 

This is a much later edition of a book, but unlike in most cases, this does not make it one of low value. The book is Sir Thomas More's Utopia, originally published in 1516. This edition did not come until almost four centuries later – 1893. Nevertheless, it is a most desirable book as it came off the press of the most notable of all the fine private printers, that of William Morris' Kelmscott Press. More was a humanist of his times, one who sought not so much to rearrange society as to fix its wrongs. As such he promoted the ideals of Erasmus, the Catholic reformer at the time of the Protestant revolution, who helped have the book printed. Erasmus sought to reform the Catholic Church, rather than overthrow it. So, in More's Utopia, we find a contemporary society, but one that operates under the ideals of tolerance, education, and high moral standards. The book was a favorite of Morris. Morris was an ardent socialist, and he had published a book about his own version of a Utopian society just two years earlier. Utopia was a natural for Kelmscott to published when Morris sought out earlier great books to print. Morris used the type of his most notable work, the Kelmscott Chaucer, printed in red and black. Item 48. CHF 4,800 (US $4,942).

 

Next is an important work on Japan, Histoire naturelle, civile et ecclesiastique de l'empire du Japon. This is the 1729 first French edition of a work originally published in English in 1727. It was regarded as the best look at Japan for a century, that country's exclusion policy keeping almost all westerners away. The author was Englebert Kaempfer, a German physician and naturalist, who did much traveling, particularly around the Dutch West Indies, before proceeding to Japan. He stayed in Nagasaki from 1690-1692. He spent his time studying just about everything about Japan as well as exploring the land. The result was this thorough look at Japan, including its history, flora, geography, tea, paper, customs, architecture, coins, calligraphy, and the exclusion policy that lasted until the country was forced to open its doors by the American Navy in the 1850s. The manuscript was purchased after Kaempfer's death by Sir Hans Sloane, who had it published a decade later. It was not a bestseller when first published in English, being subscribed in only 162 copies, but became widely appreciated in Europe after the release of this French translation. Item 38. CHF 6,800 (US $7,022).

 

Item 64 is a Latin work going back to 1601, Augustissimorum imperatorum, serenissimorum regum, atque archiducum, illustrissimorum principum ... verissimae imagines ... & rerum ... gestarum succcinctae descriptiones. That's a mouthful. Erasmushaus describes this as "the first illustrated museum catalogue ever printed." The author was Jakob Schrenck von Notzing, but the museum collection was that of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tirol. The Archduke had a great interest in history, with a particular concentration in weaponry and armor. He put together a collection of over 1,000 portraits of European noblemen and women. He also collected the armor of notable leaders from the 15th and 16th centuries. They were placed on display at his large residence, Ambras Castle. Ferdinand assigned his personal secretary, Schrenck, to create this catalogue. It took a while as it was not published until six years after Ferdinand died. CHF 12,000 (US $12,395).

 

Erasmushaus may be reached at +41 61 228 99 44 or hdb@erasmushaus.ch. Their website is found at www.erasmushaus.ch.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <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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