Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2019 Issue

Books About Books from L & T Respess Books

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Books About Books.

L & T Respess Books has issued their List 321: Books About Books. The subtitle is Including Bibliography, Bibliopoly, Fine Press, Printing, Type, Paper, Illustration, Libraries, Collecting, and Related Arts. "Books about books" is that field that focuses on aspects of books other than their text. It generally falls into two categories, books as art, and information about books. Books as art covers fields such as fine press work, illustrations, type and fine paper. The informational aspect includes bibliographies and advice on collecting or bookselling, textual to be sure, but not focused on the text of the books being described. Respess offers 189 books, occasionally ephemeral items, in this field. Here are a few samples.

 

We begin with a thorough account of the life, career, and collection of a person who is still regarded as perhaps the greatest collector ever. Also, possibly, the most eccentric collector there ever was too. If the term "bibliomaniac" applies to anyone, then surely it describes Sir Thomas Phillipps. Phillipps was a 19th century British collector, a man of means, but not enormous wealth. Building a collection of this size was a financial stretch for Phillipps, who regularly found himself balancing debts and fighting to stay a step ahead of bankruptcy. Phillipps' aim was to collect every book and manuscript ever printed or created, and while such a task is impossible, he must have come as close to that goal as anyone. The 40,000 books he collected was certainly impressive, but even more notable were the 60,000 manuscripts he amassed. Manuscripts were not deemed as important in those days, but Phillipps was a preservationist as well as a collector and wanted to keep these elusive writings from disappearing forever. An enormous number would have been permanently lost but not for the work of Phillipps. Ironically, despite his wishes, Phillipps' collection was sold off after his death, rather than being kept together. The auction sales went on for over a century after he departed this Earth. While he was around, Phillipps filled his large home with books and manuscripts, to the point that he could barely get around, moving between passageways carved out among the piles of books and documents. A. N. L. Munby estimates Phillipps spent £200,000 - £250,000 on his collection, a lot of money in the mid-19th century and more than logical for a man of his means. Item 123 is the complete five-volume set of Munby's Phillipps Studies, published 1951-1960. Priced at $300.

 

Booksellers like to cite bibliographies in which the books they are selling appear, it being a sign of importance. If there is one bibliography they like to cite above all others, this surely is it, Printing and the Mind of Man: A Descriptive Catalogue Illustrating the Impact of Print on the Evolution of Western Civilization during Five Centuries. If a book appears in this bibliography, you know it is of great importance. Published in 1967, Printing and the Mind of Man was based on an exhibition in 1963 designed to show the importance of printing to the expansion of human knowledge. From the exhibition, this bibliography was edited by original participants John Carter, Percy H. Muir and others. It includes line drawings and title pages from 424 books, "which, for the ideas they brought to the world for the first time, are of prime importance to the mind of man." Item 50 is a first American edition of PMM, circa 1967. $150.

 

This next book is a biography of a book rather than a person. By Waldemar Fries, the title is The Double Elephant Folio: the Story of Audubon's "Birds of America." The massively large first edition of Birds of America was published in parts from 1827-1838. This was an undertaking by the naturalist and author as massive as the book itself. Audubon traveled around America for a decade sketching his birds and sailing to England to supervise its production and printing. He also had to convince people to subscribe to what was a very expensive book in parts. Ultimately, he made very little money from his enormous undertaking until he published a smaller, octavo edition that regular people could afford to buy. Audubon's first edition is rare, but not enormously so, but its size and beauty is such that it accounts for several of the highest prices ever paid for a book at auction. It always sells for millions of dollars, sometimes double digit millions if the condition is good enough. Fries tells the complete story of the book, from when it was first conceived by Audubon through its production and sale. It is illustrated from photographs, old advertising, and more, containing 500 pages. It also contains a census of copies known to exist at the time of this book's publication, 1973. It is believed 200 copies were printed and sold, and the most recent figures I have seen are that 123 copies are known to still exist. Item 11. $75.

 

This is a book by a couple of New York booksellers whose names will be well-known to those who plied the trade during the twentieth century. The title is Old & Rare, Thirty Years in the Book Business. The authors were Leona Rostenberg and Madelaine B. Stern. At the time of publication, circa 1974, the two had been selling books together for three decades. Ms. Rostenberg had been in the trade even longer, starting in the 1930s, before teaming up with Ms. Stern. Their ability to carry on in the bookselling field at a high level in New York at this time was a remarkable feat. After all, this goes back to the 1940s, and women just didn't do such things then. This was a man's game and they had to be very good to compete where women were not particularly welcome. They were known as sleuths, competing against men by being able to track down great books on trips to Europe and around America. The two also wrote books together and their sleuthing led to the discovery that the novels of A. M. Barnard were actually written by Louisa May Alcott pseudonymously, thereby adding to Alcott's bibliography. Amazingly, this thirty-year career review would prove to be only the halfway point. The "Bookends" remained in business together until 2005, when Ms. Rostenberg died at the age of 96, Ms. Stern passing two years later at 95. Item 168. $50.

 

A. S. W. Rosenbach was another of the most notable of the twentieth century booksellers, perhaps the best known of the first half of that century. He purchased and sold at the highest level and his customers were the greatest and wealthiest collectors in America. He also was a collector himself, and interestingly, among his few personal favorites was children's books. His interest in books of the young led him to write this bibliography, Early American Children's Books. The foreword is by one of those great collectors of the time, A. Edward Newton. The books described herein were part of Rosenbach's collection. Published in 1933, this is copy #67 of 585 and is signed by Rosenbach. Item 56. $125.

 

L & T Respess Books may be reached at 413-727-3435 or respessbooks@cstone.net.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>Fall 2019 Auction<br>September 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> AUDUBON, John James. Snowy Owl, Plate 121. Aquatint Engraving with original hand color. London: Havell Jr., 1827-1838 from <i>Birds of America.</i> $225,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> JEFFERYS, Thomas. <i>The American Atlas...</i> London: Sayer and Bennett, 1776. $65,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> RACKHAM, Arthur. Original Illustrations for <i>Jack and the Beanstalk.</i> Pen and ink with watercolor on paper. C. 1913. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> AUDUBON, John James. Ruffed Grous, Plate 41. Aquatint Engraving with original hand color. London: Havell Jr., 1827-1838 from <i>Birds of America.</i> $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> ROESSLER, A. R. Latest Map of the State of Texas. Lithograph with original hand color. New York: Mittendorfer, 1874. $50,000 to $65,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>Fall 2019 Auction<br>September 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> AUDUBON, John James. American Bison or Buffalo (Male), Plate 56. Lithograph with original hand color. New York, 1845-1848 from <i>Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.</i> $18,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> HOOKER, Sir William Jackson & FITCH, Walter Hood. Victoria Regia. Lithograph with original hand color. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1851. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> AUDUBON, John James. Pin Tailed Duck, Plate 227. Aquatint Engraving with original hand color. London: Havell Jr., 1827-1838 from <i>Birds of America.</i> $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> LEWIS, Meriwether and CLARK, William. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and Across the American Continent...</i> London, 1814. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Sep. 28:</b> AUDUBON, John James. American Black or Silver Fox, Plate 116. Lithograph with original hand color. New York, 1845-1848 from <i>Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.</i> $18,000 to $25,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Dubliners,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, 1914. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> The Beatles.- Baker (Geoffrey.) 3 Autograph Letters and 1 Autograph Card signed to Ann Gosnell, addtionally sgn’d by George Harrison, John Lennon, Cynthia Lennon and others, 1968. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Pilgrim Press.- Dod (John). <i>A plaine and familiar exposition of the tenne commandements ...,</i> [Leiden], [William Brewster], 1617. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Automaton Chess Player & Mechanical Illusion.- Reynell (H., printer). “The Famous Chess-Player, No.14, St.James's-Street, next Brooks's,” broadside advertisement for "The famous Automaton", [1784]. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Clemens (Samuel Langhorne). <i>Life on the Mississippi,</i> first English edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, 1883. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Arctic Sledge Flag.- Fulford (Reginald Baldwin). Sledge flag... HMS Discovery, 1875. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first edition, first printing, 1997. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Piranesi (Giovanni Battista). <i>Le Antichità Romane,</i> 4 vol., 1756. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal, called). <i>Urbis Venetiarum Prospectus Celebriores,</i> 3 parts in 1, Richard Ford's copy, Venice, Giovanni Battista Pasquali, 1751. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Atlases.- Speed (John). <i>A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World,</i> bound with <i>The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine,</i> 1631-27. £12,000 to £18,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 26:</b> Anatomical illustration.- Aselli (Gaspare). <i>De lactibus sive lacteis venis... dissertatio,</i> first edition, Milan, Giovanni Battista Bidelli, 1627. £20,000 to £30,000
  • <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 Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.

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