Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2019 Issue

Imagination and the Illustrated Book from Ursus Rare Books

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Imagination in illustrated books.

Ursus Rare Books has released their Catalogue 343 Imagination & The Illustrated Book from Piranesi to Present. That is a date range, or more specifically, 1748-2017. These books are mostly artistic in one fashion or another. Some are works of art, some artists' books, others just graced with wonderful illustrations. Several are combinations between visual artists and literary ones. The artwork is quite original, often unusual, surrealism often popping its strange head. These are a few items to be found in this collection of illustrated books.

 

Life was not easy for the great artist and engraver William Blake. Between perfecting his art and making enough money to get by, it was always a struggle. Perhaps that is why he was so fascinated with Job. He didn't suffer quite as much as the biblical figure, but it is likely Blake could relate to him, his struggles and ultimate redemption. Still, it wasn't until late in life that he took on his Illustrations of the Book of Job. It was published in 1825, two years before his death, when Blake was age 68. Two years earlier, his friend, the painter John Linnell, commissioned the series. Blake was never much appreciated during his lifetime. It would take several decades before he began to get his due recognition, but Linnell recognized his extraordinary talent before others and provided the funds Blake needed. These illustrations are quintessential Blake, spiritual, otherworldly. Each has a caption quote from the Book of Job or other part of the Bible, while other quotes reflecting Job's struggles can be found at the top. Decorative borders otherwise surround the images. As Ursus points out, the illustrations "must be seen to be fully appreciated." The bookseller notes that this is an unusually clean copy, without the significant foxing seen in most, though it has not been washed. Item 2. Priced at $85,000.

 

Next we have a familiar early venture into science fiction, though you may not recognize the title unless you speak French: Les Guerre des Mondes. This is a 1906 Brussels edition (in French) of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. This work is known not only for its written merit, but for the 1938 radio enactment that had many Americans believing America was actually under attack by Martians. While a later edition translated to a foreign language is usually not a very desirable one, this edition is desirable because of its illustrations. They were provided by an obscure Brazilian artist, Henrique Alvim Corrêa (translated in the French edition to Henri Alvin Correa). These are a nightmarish bunch of illustrations that will relieve you of any misconceptions that Martians are cute little green men. You will not want to be the first person to travel to Mars once you see who lives there. I cannot vouch for this, since I understand not everything you read on the internet is necessarily true, but reportedly, Corrêa, who had moved to Brussels to set up his studio, traveled to London to show Wells his artwork. Wells was so impressed that he asked him to illustrate his upcoming French edition of The War of the Worlds. Again, according to internet sources, Wells later said, "Alvim Corrêa did more for my work with his brush than I with my pen." Whether apocryphal or real, these illustrations are worthy of such praise. Perhaps the reason so few people are familiar with Corrêa is that he died just a few years later of tuberculosis at the age of 34. Item 13. $8,500.

 

Here is another illustrated book with drawings strange enough to match those of Corrêa. This is surrealism long before that term was invented. J. J. Grandville was a French artist of great imagination. By the time he got around to this book, which Ursus calls "Grandville's masterpiece," he had done much illustration work for magazines and books. He did caricatures for magazines, his wit making them popular among readers. When restrictions were placed on caricaturing people, he turned more to book illustration, often with classics. Item 4 is Grandville's Un Autre Monde. Transformations, Visions, Incarnations... published in 1844. The first part of that title translates to "an other world." That it is. Bizarre creatures and such inhabit this very strange, surrealistic other world. It was nothing like anything seen before, and it became influential on other artists such as John Tenniel. It clearly was influential on the drawings Tenniel created for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Grandville's drawings provide a preview of them. $9,750.

 

These next drawings are not surrealistic, but rather, futuristic. They come from the most unlikely of places. Item 31 is Arkhitekturniie Fantazii (architectural fantasies), published in 1933. This is a collection of 101 architectural designs from the vivid imagination of Yakov Chernykov. It contains drawings of cities, structures, factories and such with designs far ahead of their time. Ursus describes this as "one of the most exciting books on architecture issued in the twentieth century." Compton, in his writing about Russian avante-garde books, says his "almost unlimited imagination for architectural forms provides a pattern book for modernist architecture, rather than a repertoire of viable designs." Here is why this book is so surprising. Imaginative, avant-garde work is hardly synonymous with Stalin's Soviet Union. Drab, gray, practical was the order of the day. The result was very few of Chernykov's designs were ever used, and the avante-garde in the Soviet Union was quickly repressed after this time. $12,500.

 

Here is another strange book, but in a very different way. Ursus describes it thus - "A stupendous object, in a binding that is completely over the top. Fascist bombast at its most preposterous." This one was commissioned by Mussolini, who was not shy about being self-aggrandizing, to celebrate his subjugation of the people of Ethiopia in 1936. This work was produced in 1937 by Celso Maria Garatti, the title being Italiani di Mussolini in A. O. (Italians of Mussolini in A. O., "A. O." being Africa Orientale or East Africa). It features a cloth binding with copper tubes along the spine and an onlaid metal axe protruding over the front cover. An axe and rods is a fasces, a device for clearing people out of the way in ancient times. It became the symbol of the fascist regime. This large folio book is filled with pictures, mostly photographs of fascist control of Ethiopia. It didn't last long. By 1941, the Allies, mainly the British, had thrown the Italians out of East Africa. Item 43. $8,500.

 

Ursus Books may be reached at 212-772-8787 or pkraus@ursusbooks.com. Their website is www.ursusbooks.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 Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Sense and Sensibility: A Novel, By a Lady,</i> 3 volumes, London, 1811. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>Kew Gardens,</i> limited edition, signed by Woolf & Bell, London, 1927. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> <i>[Arabian Nights],</i> Calcutta II version, 4 volumes, Calcutta & London, 1839-1842. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 ALS to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor, anticipating Christie’s sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Emma,</i> first edition, London, 1816. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Hirohito & Nagako, Emperor & Empress of Japan, 2 photographs signed, showing Nagako in kimono & obi bearing the imperial seal. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 autograph letters signed to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor Elizabeth Tilberis, anticipating Christie’s announcement of a sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Sarojini Naidu, complete galley proof of <i>The Broken Wing</i> signed with several holograph pages & an autograph letter signed to writer Edmund Gosse, 1916. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Fernando Pessoa, <i>Mensagem,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, Lisbon, 1934. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Graham Greene, <i>The Basement Room,</i> first edition, Greene’s personal copy, signed with annotations throughout, London, 1935. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Abraham Lincoln, partly-printed document signed, call for troops issued during America’s first national draft just days before the NYC draft riots, 1863. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b><br><i>Les Chansons de Bilitis</i> by Pierre Louÿs, illustrated by George Barbier & F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1922. $8,000 to $12,000.

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