Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2019 Issue

Japanese Books, Manuscripts, & Scrolls from Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller

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Japanese Books, Manuscripts, & Scrolls.

Jonathan A. Hill Bookseller has issued a catalogue of Japanese Books, Manuscripts & Scrolls. It is a sign of the internationalization of the book trade (and most other things as well). Hill is based in New York City, roughly 6,700 miles from Tokyo. No matter. Populations have mixed, and with the advent of the internet, trading between continents is no longer a significant obstacle. Hill is offering a substantial selection of Japanese material and much of it is of significant importance, books and manuscripts you would not expect to find in New York. But, here they are, so lets take a look inside.

 

One type of presentation with numerous examples in this catalogue is the scroll, leading me to believe this must be a more popular form of story-telling in Japan than in the West. Here is a pair that highlight another Japanese custom, at least of an earlier time, that seems very odd to an American. Hill calls them ceremonial cuisine scrolls. They provide a very detailed look at ceremonial banquets. These banquets featured many courses, each filled with symbolism. The larger scroll begins with "three rounds of drinks" (translated from Japanese). These aren't just drinks, but include snacks. This is followed with "three rounds for drinking," three more trays including preserved plums, jelly fish, salted roe, carved carp, dried fish, and shellfish. Many are served high, pine cone style. Next come five trays to celebrate the New Year, with cranes, turtles, lobsters, octopus, potatoes and so on. This is followed with five trays of sweets, including nutmeg, chestnuts, sweet seaweed, and Mandarin oranges. These feasts would last for three days, so more illustrations and descriptions follow for further meals. Now, large meals are not what seems odd to an American. We are, after all, the land of the all-you-can-eat buffet. What is surprising about these banquets, which were meant for shoguns, aristocrats, and the emperor, is that the meals truly were ceremonial. They were not meant to be eaten. The presentation and symbolism was what mattered. They were meant to be admired. A small number of dishes were to be eaten, but not most. I have no idea what happened to the food after the banquet was over. That fish wouldn't have kept well very long. This custom lasted from the 15th-17th century, so there's no need to fear disappointment if invited to a banquet in Japan today. According to Rath (Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan) "...ceremonial cuisine was synonymous with practices of not eating that demanded the appreciation of food in other ways, sometimes as a symbol evoking transcendent values such as martial virtues or marital felicity, and other items as an art form akin to flower arrangement or sculpture." Item 6. Priced at $29,500.

 

Here is another Japanese scroll, but this one, surprisingly, may be of even greater interest to collectors of Americana. Item 57 is a scroll of 30 joined sheets of paper with the title (translated) Strange View off the Coast of Kanagawa. It is dated Spring 1854, and those familiar with American-Japanese history will be familiar with that date. That was when Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open its doors to some trade with America. The "strange" view depicted in this scroll is of Perry's ships off the coast. This "Blackship Scroll" was prepared by Otsuki Bankei, with assistance from two artists. Bankai was sent by his fiefdom lord to record the events once it was learned that Perry had returned after his first, briefer visit the preceding year. This time, Perry stayed for a month, and was able to come on shore and socialize with the Japanese. The scroll is divided into 20 scenes, depicting the visit. The first image shows nine American ships offshore, each named, its day of arrival and departure listed, its commander, size of crew, and number of cannons. The next shows Americans disembarking from the ships, and others continue, showing the reception hall, Japanese participants, American troops and bands marching in formation, with the encampment guarded by discretely armed samurai, a portrait of Perry and second in command Henry Adams, and so on. The final image is of a small scale train car that Perry brought as a gift for the emperor. $95,000.

 

Item 64 translates to Colored Pictures of Occupations of Workmen. Among the "workmen" are numerous women. This book features the colored woodcuts of Minko Tachibana. Tachibana has highlighted his illustrations with commentary, poems, and legends concerning the trades. The book was published in 1770, and the 28 artisans depicted represent the time and place. The crafts shown are hatter, mirror polisher, carpenter, swordsmith, armorer, cordmaker, maker of hairdress ties, weaver, papermaker, engraver, maker of bamboo blinds, quivermaker, basketmaker, ballmaker, glassblower, fanmaker, koto (Japanese harp) maker, maskmaker, brushmaker, potter, maker of straw mats, woodworker, paper mounter on sliding doors, playing card maker, maker of paper umbrellas, maker of millstones, needlemaker, and maker of inkstones. $17,500.

 

Next we have what Hill describes as a "first edition of perhaps the greatest of all Japanese illustrated books." The artist was Utamaro, whose work from the late 18th century not only made him the most renown artist in Japan at the time, but years later was influential in the development of European impressionism. This is a "shell book," an illustrated book featuring sea shells. Its translated title is Gifts of the Ebb Tide, those gifts being shells that wash up on shore. It consists of eight double-page color-printed woodcuts, with poems provided by a poetry society. The first print shows people gathered along the beach at ebb tide, collecting shells. It is followed by six double-page images of shells, with poems running along the top. The final image is of young ladies, having returned home, they form a circle around and admire the shells they have collected. Item 69. $150,000.

 

Here is an item every American will know, though we associate it with Chinese restaurants. Hill tells us the tradition was actually derived from Japanese immigrants. Item 12 is a woodblock divided into 192 small boxes, each designed to create a printed fortune. Once the sheets of fortunes were produced, they would be trimmed into individual fortunes. You have undoubtedly figured out their purpose - to be inserted inside of fortune cookies. It includes such fortunes (translated) as, "God will help you," "Everybody likes you," and "I rely on you more than Budda." $3,500. Item 13 is a second woodblock, this one containing 224 fortunes. Among the words of wisdom are "Somebody is watching you," "Don't fight," "Fall in love," and "Sleep longer." $3,950.

 

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

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Athanasius. <i>Illustrium Virorum Opuscula,</i> Paris, 1500. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> <i>The New Testament of Jesus Christ, Translated Faithfully into English,</i> Rheims, John Fogny, 1582. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Stith, William. <i>The First History of Virginia printed in America,</i> [Williamsburg, 1747]. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b><br>S. Bonaventure. <i>Commentarius in Secundum Librum Sententiarum Petri Lombardi,</i> Venice, 1477. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Juvenalis, Junii. <i>Satyrae,</i> with the commentary of Domitius Calderinus, Venice, 1475. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Horatius Flaccus, Quintus. <i>Opera.</i> Ed. with commentary of Christophorus Landinus, Florence, 1482. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Scotus, Duns. <i>Quaestiones in Quattuor Libros Sententiarum,</i> 1476-1477. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Polidori, John. <i>The Vampyre, A Tale,</i> Paris, 1819. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom's Cabin,</i> Vol. I and II, 1852, and a Later Edition, 1885. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <center><b>iGavel Auctions<br>Antiquarian and Other Books<br>September 14 – October 12</b>
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> Book of Hours, Illuminated Vellum, Calendar of Months, 15th century. $600 to $900.
    <b>iGavel Auctions, Sep. 14 – Oct. 12:</b> <i>Picturesque,</i> America, Europe, Palestine, and Russia, 1872-1885. $400 to $600.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> C.F. Payne, <i>Micawber—Imitating Norman Rockwell's "Triple self-portrait,"</i> acrylic, watercolor & colored pencil, 2002. Sold June 2021 for $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jane Russell, archive of letters written during a whaling voyage, 1840s. Sold July 2021 for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Guild of Women Binders, exhibition binding of A.F. Pollard’s <i>Henry VIII,</i> London, 1902. Sold July 2021 for $12,350.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Robert Frost, <i>Collected Poems,</i> author’s presentation copy, signed, with entirety of <i>Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening</i> inscribed, NY, 1930. Sold June 2021 for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> James Joyce, <i>Ulysses,</i> deluxe limited issue, signed, London, 1936. Sold June 2021 for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Mercator [family], <i>[World and Continents],</i> 5 double-page maps, Amsterdam, c. 1633. Sold June 2021 for $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Schlegel, <i>New York, Taken from Central Park,</i> hand-finished color-tinted lithograph, 1874. Sold June 2021 for $11,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolaus Copernicus, <i>De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium,</i> second edition, Basel, 1566. Sold April 2021 for $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Book of Hours, Use of Utrecht, illuminated manuscript, c. 1435-45. Sold April 2021 for $60,000.
  • <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Bible, English. The Holy Bible, Second Folio edition, the "Great She Bible", engraved More-Speed 1611 map of Canaan, Robert Barker, 1613-11. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Galilei (Galileo). <i>Opere,</i> 2 vol., first collected edition, Bologna, Heirs of Dozza for Carlo Manolessi, 1656-1655. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Venetian choirbook.- Single leaf from a 13th century Venetian antiphonal, with large decorated initial, manuscript on vellum, Venice, [c.1260]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Petrarca (Francesco). <i>Rerum vulrgarium fragmenta,</i> decorated manuscript on paper, Italy, [second half of the 15th century]. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> New York School of abstract expressionists.- Abbott (Mary Lee). [Sketch book of original artwork], [New York], 1945. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Contemporary colouring.- Nitzschewitz (Hermannus). <i>Novum beatae Mariaevirginis psalterium,</i> Zinna, Press of the Cistercian Monastery, 1493. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Shakespeare source book.- Montemayor (Jorge de). Diana of George of Montemayor: translated out of Spanish into English by Bartholomew Yong, first edition in English, B[ishop]., 1598. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Milton (John). Poems of Mr. John Milton, Both English and Latin, Compos'd at several times, first edition, state with "S" in "S. Pauls" in imprint, 1645. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Power and the Glory,</i> first edition, 1940. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>& Works on Paper<br>30th September 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Crowley (Aleister). View of the Tyrrhenian Sea, probably from the hill behind the abbey of Thelema, Cefalù, Sicily, charcoal, [1921]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, 1953. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 30:</b> China.- Thomson (John). <i>Illustrations of China and Its People,</i> 4 vol., first edition, 96 photographic plates, 1873-74. £15,000 to £20,000.
  • <b><center>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>September 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 20. ADAMS, JOHN QUINCY. Letter to the editors of the Boston Atlas on slavery and its political ramifications, 1842. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 208. HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. <i>A Farewell To Arms.</i> New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929. First edition. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 237. ADDAMS, CHARLES. Original drawing "Now Remember-act casual." $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>September 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 4. SMITH, ADAM. <i>An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.</i> Philadelphia, 1789. The first American edition. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 131. BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VON. <i>Cinquieme Sinfonie en ut mineur: C Moll de Louis Van Beethoven. Oeuvre 67.</i> First edition of the complete score. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 73. Chinese Export Painting. Album of twenty-three original Chinese natural history studies of flowers and insects. Likely Canton: circa 1850. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>September 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 241. GOREY, EDWARD. Original drawing "Cat Drawing Wallpaper." Signed in Pencil in lower right margin. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 36. LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. Autograph note signed instructing Edwin Stanton to meet with the important African American abolitionist and officer Martin Delany. [Washington:] 21 February 1865. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 112. JONSON, BEN. <i>Workes</i>. London: William Stansby, 1616; Together with <i>Workes.</i> London: Richard Meighen,1640-41. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 161. STURGIS, LEE. <i>Salmon Fishing on Cain River, New Brunswick.</i> (Chicago:) Privately printed (for the author by Ralph Fletcher Seymour), 1919. First edition. $3,000 to $5,000.

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