Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2005 Issue

Literature and More from James Cummins Bookseller

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Catalogue 93 from James Cummins Bookseller


By Michael Stillman

James Cummins Bookseller
offers a varied selection of items in his latest catalogue, number 93. Among the specific topics covered are literature, bibliography, and thirteen items which are printed on velum. Then there is "miscellaneous," which is to say you may find anything not covered by those headings in here as well. In other words, the catalogue is worth a look by any type of collector. Here are a few items you will find within its covers.

Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, was an extraordinarily popular and famous writer in his day, and as a celebrity, he undoubtedly was hit up by many aspiring writers for help. Here is an example of Clemens' attempt to deal with one such petitioner. What Clemens does is to gently push the would-be author off on his publisher, so he will not have to deal with his appeal. Writes Clemens to his publisher, American Publishing, "Here's a letter & enclosures intended for the AP Co. Will you take the writer off my hands & assume the rest of the correspondence with him?" Clemens pleads. However, the great writer evidently did take the time to peruse the submission, as he adds, "The article headed "Stupendous Sale" is not badly done; but the rest of his matter grows monotonous..." Unfortunately, we do not know who the new author was, nor whether he ever succeeded in having his material published. A search does not turn up any works entitled "Stupendous Sale," but perhaps he went on to write something else successful, or published "Stupendous Sale" under another title, for example, "Ulysses." Item 7. Priced at $1,500.

For those who collect fakes, how about a counterfeit edition of a catalogue for a phony sale? This is the "sale" catalogue for the Fortsas collection, what Cummins describes as "possibly the greatest bibliohoax of all time..." In 1840, Renier Chalon sent out catalogues for the auction of the collection of one "Jean Pichauld," the "Count of Fortsas." The late Count was said to be an obscure collector who lived in a small town in Belgium. He had put together a small, but very unique collection. The emphasis here is on the word "unique." There were only 52 books in Fortsas' collection, but the Count collected only books that no one else owned, and no bibliographers had ever recorded. Each title offered was a book so rare that no one else had ever heard of it. Chalon sent out a limited number of catalogues to the most notable collectors of the day. The demand for the catalogue was so great that this counterfeit edition was quickly published, but Cummins notes that it is now as rare as the original. On the date of the sale, collectors from all over Europe came to the Belgian town, but there was no such sale. Indeed, there had been no library, no Count of Fortsas, and, naturally, no one had heard of the 52 books before because they did not exist. It was all a joke. Item 91. $3,500.

Item 15 is the catalogue for an auction that actually did take place. It was for the estate of one of the greatest writers of any era, Charles Dickens. Dickens' will had called for the sale of all of his property not specifically bequeathed. This sale, held by the predecessor of today's Sotheby's, was held on July 9, 1870. The catalogue is headed, Catalogue of the Beautiful Collection of Modern Pictures, Water-Colour Drawings, and Objects of Art, of Charles Dickens, Deceased... $1,350.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <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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