Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2020 Issue

A Holiday Miscellany from Ursus Rare Books


A Holiday Miscellany.

Ursus Rare Books has created a Holiday Miscellany 2019. The holidays may be almost over, but the books are as good as ever. Books age well. A miscellany is hard to describe with words that aren't simply synonyms, like “variety.” Most of what is here can be described as in some way artistic, though they may be such things as artfully presented sales catalogues rather than obvious artwork. Then again, there isn't much beauty in a book about the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, so I guess we better just stick with miscellany for the description. Here are a few of these miscellaneous books.

If you are planning a trip to Rome, Ursus has a New Guide of Rome, and the Environs, Naples and their Environs... Despite the title, it isn't exactly new. It was published in 1853, but it was new then. This is a guide to the city and its ancient monuments prepared by Mariano Vasi and updated by Italian archaeologist Antonio Nibby. This was the “mandatory nineteenth century guide to Rome,” published in several editions and different languages. It contains 532 pages with 28 plates and a folding pocket map. It provides a day-by-day itinerary for an eight-day visit to the city. Item 45. Priced at $975.


From architecture dating back two millennia we switch to more modern artists. Item 31 is New York: The New Art Scene. This book features 500 photographs of the New York art scene in one of its most vibrant and revolutionary times – the 1960s. The photographs were taken by Ugo Mulas, an Italian photographer noted for portraits and candid scenes. This is his most notable work. During his trip to New York, he visited the studios of numerous artists. While Mulas' name may not be very well known, those of the artists he visited is a who's who of the era – Marcel Duchamp, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, and many more. The text was provided by Alan Solomon, an art professor, exhibition organizer, and critic deeply involved in the “scene” at this time. Published in 1967. $2,750.


Here is a work by another artist, also in New York, though three decades earlier. It comes from the unusual artist, Salvadore Dali, but this is unusual even by his standards. It is not a work of art, though it is somewhat surreal. It is a sheet folded to create a four-page pamphlet headed Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to His Own Madness. It was a protest by Dali against a decision by the organizers of the 1939 New York World's Fair. Dali was participating in the 'Dream of Venus' pavilion, a surreal undersea grotto. It featured such unusual attractions as semi-naked women playing the piano and milking cows in water tanks. You know, just normal stuff. Dali had an idea for the entrance to the pavilion, an image which is reproduced in this pamphlet. It was sort of a reverse mermaid. It displayed the naked body of a woman with the head of a fish. We can describe her as semi-beautiful. The fair's organizers didn't much like Dali's idea, insisting it be replaced with a more traditional version of Venus. The artist was not pleased. He expressed his distaste written in a form similar to the Declaration of Independence (“When, in the course of human culture, it becomes necessary for a people to destroy the intellectual bonds that unite them with the logical systems of the past...”). Dali believed his vision had been compromised and he railed against the mediocrity of art by consensus. Item 15. $750.


This is a first, or at least a part of one. William Caxton was England's first printer. His greatest book was that nation's most important writing up to that time, which was 1476 or 1477. That is the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer. If you wish to buy this book, good luck. There are only around a dozen known copies, and we have not been able to trace any copies at auction in over half a century, and even then it was a seriously defective copy, missing many pages. What you can still find are individual leaves, and this is one. This leaf comes from the Knight's Tale, the first of the Canterbury Tales. Caxton's Canterbury Tales was the first book in English published in England. Item 10. $7,500.


Next we have a dealer's showroom catalogue for the Chevrolet for 54. America's first choice car. This is a first edition of Chevy's 1954 dealer showroom catalogue, published in 1953. It contains over 200 color illustrations, including some folding plates. There are 12 bound-in paint samples and 60 upholstery samples. There were several updates in 1954, including a wider grill, but this would be the end of an era in Chevy styling. In 1955, Chevy introduced its first V8 and a totally new look. The mid-1950s brought a sleeker look to cars and Chevrolet was no exception. The rounded lines cars had adopted in the 1930s were replaced with straighter ones. You can describe them as either streamlined or boxy, depending on whether you like them. Whichever, 1954 was the end of a line. Item 13. $1,500.


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

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rackham (Arthur). The Old Hag Standing Outside a Cottage, original drawing, signed by the artist, [c.1909]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first printing, signed by the author, original pictorial wrappers, 1997. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Castiglione (Giuseppe, after). Twelve plates from <i>Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan,</i> 1783-1786. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Antiphonal.- Antiphonal manuscript, [Spain], ca. 1650. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Almanach de Gotha.- Almost complete run 1769 to 1945, 12mo & 8vo, Gotha, C.W. Ettinger [- Justus Perthes]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Bible, Greek.- New Testament [Greek], Novum Iesu Christi D.N. testamentum, ex bibliotheca regia, 2 parts in one, Robert Estienne, Paris, 1550. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Lithgow (William). <i>The Total Discourse of the rare Adventures… from Scotland, to the most famous kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Affrica…,</i> woodcut illustrations, 4to, I. Oakes, 1640. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Interest.-16th -18th Century. Large collection of letters related to prominent members of the Spanish court and clergymen,; v.s., late 16th-mid 18th century. £1,800 to £2,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,</i> 2 vol., FIRST EDITION, first issue8vo, John Murray, 1871. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Loewy (Raymond) ARR. Mickey Mouse, original gouache and air brush illustration of Mickey Mouse, signed by artist., n.p. [1946]. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Potter (Beatrix) & Sendak (Maurice). <i>The Tale of Peter Rabbit,</i> NUMBER 2 OF 250 SIGNED COPIES, WITH AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY SENDAK, New York, 1995. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Wolstenholm (Jonathan) ARR. Books on Books, original watercolor, signed and dated by the artist, 2005.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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