Susanne Schulz-Falster Rare Books has released a catalogue for Summer 2022. This is one of those catalogues that is hard to describe because the material is so varied. The books range from old to very old, and many are in European languages since there wasn't much printing going on in America several centuries ago. Of course, there are English language books from England and a few American items as well. While hard to describe, the items are interesting and often unusual and worthy of your consideration. Here are a few.
We begin with an odd and obscure book with sections on unusual memory and the game of chess. I'm not sure of the connection but probably it is that you need a sharp mind and memory to play that game well. The title is Dissertazione di Francesco Cancellieri intorno agli vomini dotati do gran memoria ed a qvelli diventi smemorati, con un'appendice delle biblioteche degli scrittori sopra gli eruditi precoci la memoria artificiale l'arte di trascegliere e di notare ed il giuoco degli scacchi. That's a long title so I will ask Google for help translating: “Dissertation by Francesco Cancellieri on vomini endowed with great memory and those who become forgetful, with an appendix of the libraries of writers over early scholars, artificial memory, the art of selecting and noticing and the game of chess.” Both Google and I struggle with “vomini,” but based on the context it must refer to some group of people. The book is about people who have extraordinary memory, but then lose it, likely from the ravages of age. And then, there are bibliographies on the art of memory (mnemonics) and chess. Cancellieri is the author and this is a first and only edition, published in 1815. Cancellieri writes about the noted philosopher and theologian Malebranche who, after an accident, could not remember details about his childhood but it freed his mind to focus on his philosophy. At least, that's the theory. Priced at $1,200.
Next, we have a very important book for American history, even if most American's don't appreciate it or even recognize the author. Filippo Mazzei was well-known by several of America's founders, Thomas Jefferson in particular. An Italian native, he came to America at Jefferson's urging, plantings and seeds in hand, settling nearby Monticello to grow grapes. He instructed Jefferson in growing grapes and much more. Mazzei spoke of liberty and freedom, becoming an ardent supporter of the American Revolution. He was so involved that he returned to Europe to bring back weapons instead of plantings. John F. Kennedy attributed the roots of the phrase that became “all men are created equal” to Mazzei. His book is Recherches Historique at Politiques sur les Etats-Unis de l'amerique Septentrionale... published in 1788, which looks at America's history, politics, and other institutions. He examines America's Indians, noting that while the settlers thought of them as “savages,” the Indians thought the same of the settlers. He also looked at the economy, immigration, and slavery, which he opposed. After the Revolution, Mazzei returned to Europe, spreading his ideas there until eventually retiring to Italy where he died in 1816. $1,000.
This is a cleverly illustrated children's book from Germany published in 1851. The author is Eduard Engelmann, the title Schiefertafel-Bilder zu deutschen Kinderliedern v. Arnim, Brentano und Simrock (slate pictures of German children's songs by Arnim, Brentano and Simrock). Those three names were writers of children's poems, while Engelmann has drawn illustrations (24 plates) to illustrate them. Those illustrations are drawn in white on black on what looks like a blackboard. These are not the large, front-of-the-classroom blackboards that Americans knew but rather small, personal blackboards with wide wooden frames German Schoolchildren used until the 1950s. The children were to copy what they saw on their own blackboards, the belief being this was easier than drawing with a pen and paper. This is a first and only edition. $2,500.
Just over the border in eastern France they must not have been using these chalkboards as much as this is an album of colorful drawings by young Jean Duvillard of Mulhouse from 1905-1907. Duvillard's father was a well-known architect and he would become one too. This book reflects the drawing lessons of a boy age 7-9 with instructor's comments such as “good” and “very good.” Most interesting is that along with sketches of things such as animals there are well-executed architectural drawings. He was learning his profession early. There are a number of buildings in Mulhouse and nearby Basil he designed. $800.
Next we go to the American West, as the Midwest was once known. This is the Western Tourist and Emigrant's Guide, through the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri; being an accurate and concise description of each state, territory, and county. Also, describing all the principal state routes, canals, railroads, and the distances between towns. It came with a large map showing all the towns, counties, and more about this fast-growing part of America. It was prepared by the noted 19th century American mapmaker J. H. Colton. First prepared in 1839, this issue is from 1847. It is exactly what the latest wave of settlers needed. $1,400.