Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2019 Issue

Avant-Garde Book Design 1915-2000 from Ursus Rare Books

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Advante-garde book design.

Ursus Rare Books has issued a catalogue of Avant-Garde Book Design 1915-2000. These are cutting edge designs, some ahead of their time, others, perhaps, short trips down a blind alley. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Terms like surrealism, futurist, cubism, modern, or just what-the-heck-is-this can be applied. Avante-grade book design is often tied together with avant-garde art, prose, or poetry. However, the majority of the pieces in this catalogue are from the years between the wars and into the Second World War. Most come from countries that were evolving into totalitarian regimes that were not the most likely places for creativity, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Soviet Union. The first decade after the "Great War" was more conducive to general creativity. The second decade was not, so what we see is creative book design coupled with mundane, even horribly reactionary content. Mussolini came to power in the 1920s, Hitler in the early 1930s, Japan began its expansionism invading China in 1931, in 1932, Stalin clamped down on art and literature that did not support his control of the Soviet Union. Attempts to be creative under these circumstances are fascinating to see today. Here are a few items from this collection.

 

Floris Jespers was a Belgian avante-garde painter associated with various styles within that category at different times during his career. Impressionist, expressionist, cubist are among the schools used to describe his work. He changed with the times. Item 5, however, is a work unlike any other in his output. It is a children's book. Published in 1923, it is the only such book Jespers created. The title, appropriately, is Kinderlust. It combines his linoleum cuts with the verses of Jan Peeters. The illustrations feature bright primary colors with geometric designs. Item 5. $8,500.

 

Next we have a large collection of very small Japanese art from between the wars. These could light a fire. Item 12 is an album of matchbox covers, 950 of them mounted on 59 leaves. Many show the influence of Art Deco styling. It seems unlikely that many of these survived, making this a collection virtually impossible to duplicate. $2,500.

 

Item 34 consists of two copies of Das Geld Schreibt, published in 1930. These are a German translation of Upton's Sinclair's 1927 novel Money Writes. The difference is in the dust jacket cover art by John Heartfield. Heartfield, born Helmut Herzfeld, was a German artist of left-leaning political views who used his art to graphically display his opinions. The SS came for him in 1933, but Heartfield was able to escape his home and make his way over the mountains to Czechoslovakia. In 1938, he again was forced to escape, this time to Britain, as Germany was preparing to invade Czechoslovakia. Heartfield was noted for his photomontages and his book dust jackets. The dust jackets on these two copies show the family of Emil Ludwig. Ludwig was a German author noted particularly for his biographies. Of Jewish extraction, Ludwig too would have to leave Germany, becoming a Swiss citizen in 1932 and moving to the United States in 1940. Ludwig sued the book's publisher over the use of his family photograph and won. The result is, while the first copy has the uncensored dust jacket, the second one has the censored version. In this one, the faces of the three members of the Ludwig family have been blotted out with solid colored circles. Perhaps to be extra cautious, the publisher also blotted out the head of the family dog. $1,500.

 

Item 51 also contains two copies, in this case, a first edition (1933) and a second edition (1936) of Una Favola Vera by F. Hardouin di Belmonte. That title translates to "a true fairy tale," and it truly is a fairy tale. This is another children's book, but its purpose was indoctrination, not entertainment. It is an aggrandized biography of Il Duce, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. However, while textual content leaves much to be desired, the color illustrations and book design are worthy of something better. These copies were part of the personal collection of Sandro Giuliani. Giuliani was an editor of Il Popolo d'Italia (the people of Italy), a newspaper founded by Mussolini in 1914, from its founding until 1936. The cover is inscribed by Giuliani to his two-year-old son. Mussolini was captured with his mistress and other Fascists trying to escape to Switzerland at the end of the war. Their convoy was intercepted by Italian Communist partisans and Mussolini was summarily executed on April 29, 1945. The following day, Giuliani was taken from his home and also executed. $3,750.

 

Item 60 is more pre-World War II propaganda. It is URSS en Construction, published in 1937. This is a quadruple issue of this Soviet periodical, here celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. This is the version in French and it features an oversized fold-out poster of Joseph Stalin. $4,750.

 

This is one of those spectacular productions by photographer Ed Ruscha. This one is entitled Every Building on the Sunset Strip. That is exactly what it displays. They are all here - apartments, gas stations, motels, parking lots, everything on the mile and one-half long strip. It is presented in a 27-foot long accordion fold-out. One side of the "strip" runs along the top of the page, the other on the bottom. This is the second version of the first edition, without the two-inch folded flap behind the last page, dated 1966. It has both an inscription and a second signature by Ruscha. Item 97. $4,750.

 

Ursus Books may be reached at 212-772-8787 or pkraus@ursusbooks.com. Their website is www.ursusbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> OUTHWAITE, Ida Rentoul. FROG TEACHER LEADING ELF PUPILS ... Watercolour, c.1920.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> SATO, Gyro. [GENDAI RYOKI SENTAN ZUKAN]. Tokyo : Shinchosa, 1931.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> CARROLL, Lewis. ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. London : Macmillan and Co., 1868.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> FLEMING, Ian and MILLER, Albert. CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. New York : Random House, 1968.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> PHOENIX. Adelaide : Adelaide University Union, 1939.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> BOWEN, Emmanuel. A complete map of the Southern Continent. London : 1744.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> NORTHFIELD, James. AUSTRALIA. Melbourne : Northfield Studios and J.E. Hackett, c.1935
  • <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies.</i> London, Tho Cotes, for Robert Allot, 1632.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> STAHL, Augusto. <i>Panorama of Rio de Janiero.</i> c.1859. 3-part albumen print panorama (266 x 1186mm.).
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> WILDE, Oscar. <i>Lady Windermere's Fan</i>. London: Elkin Mathews & John Lane, 1893. Presentation copy.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> DE TOCQUEVILLE, Alexis. <i>De la Democratie en Amerique.</i> Paris: Pagnerre, 1850. Thirteenth Edition. Presentation copy.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> CHAUDRON, A[delaide] de V[endel]. <i>Chaudron’s Spelling Book.</i> Mobile (AL): S.H. Goetzel, 1865.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> SAINT CHER, Hugh of. <i>Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences, with the Abridgement of the Sentences.</i> Eastern France, illuminated manuscript., first half of the fifteenth century.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> LANE, Thomas. <i>The Crystal Palace.</i> London, 1851.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> B[ULWER], J[ohn]. <i>Anthropometamorphosis: man transform’d: or, the artificiall changling historically presented…</i> London: William Hunt, 1653.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> VOLTAIRE, François-Marie Arouet de. <i>Oeuvres de M. de Voltaire.</i> Dresden, George-Conrad Walther (i.e. Leipzig, Breitkopf), 1748-1750.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> HAWKING, Stephen & Leonard Mlodinow. <i>The Grand Design.</i> London: Bantam Books, 2011.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> FIELDS, James T. <i>Yesterdays with Authors.</i> With fine manuscript letter by Charles Dickens, and autograph letters from Forster, Landor, Mitford and others.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> <i>Kit, the Arkansas Traveller Broadside.</i> Chromolithograph.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jul 15:</b> Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, c. 1930. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until July 31</b>
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Cleveley, Jukes, & Cook - View of Charlotte Sound, New Zealand. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Peron - Platypus. $300 to $600.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Loon & Pitt - Map of the World published 1680 - <I>Orbis Terrarum nova et accuratissima tabula.</i> $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Maitres de l'Affiche by MUCHA - La Dame aux Camelias. $4,000 to $6,000.
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    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Cause - Peony, Crocus, Dog's Tooth Violet. $400 to $800.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Redoute, Folio - Lemmonnier's Iris - Iris Monnieri. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Audubon, Imperial Folio - Common American Deer. $6,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Gould - Cuvier's Toucan (Ramphastos Cuvieri). $5,000 to $8,000.

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