Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2022 Issue

The Bart Auerbach Collection from Riverrun Books & Manuscripts

The Bart Auerbach Collection.

Riverrun Books & Manuscripts has created a spectacular catalogue of The Bart Auerbach Collection. It contains 500 items divided into three sections, Dedication Copies; Books, Letters & Manuscripts; and The Book Trade. A great number of the books contain author inscriptions.


Bart Auerbach spent over 60 years in the book trade. He wrote innumerable descriptions in catalogues, some while a bookseller, but most while working for the two largest auction houses in the world, Christie's and Sotheby's. If you use the Transaction History database on this site, you have undoubtedly read many of his descriptions even though you were unaware. He didn't promote himself, just the books he loved. As you might also now guess, Auerbach secured many of the books for himself. He was an avid collector. It is those books that are being offered by Thomas F. Lecky, proprietor of Riverrun Books, and a colleague of Auerbach for several years at Christie's. These are a few selections.


So you think you know all the James Bond books? How about this one – Bond Strikes Camp? It was issued in 1963, between The Spy Who Loved Me and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. No? Perhaps because only 50 copies were printed. Or maybe because it wasn't written by Ian Fleming. However, the book received Fleming's approval and he told the author, Cyril Connolly, he should have printed more. Fleming and Connolly were good friends, which led to the latter writing a spoof of the Bond books. It is shorter than the others at 16 pages. In it “M” orders Bond to dress up as a woman because the Russian General they seek to entrap likes cross-dressing men. In the end, it turns out “M” is actually the Russian General. Fleming had originally encouraged Connolly to write the story when he heard the idea. This copy was inscribed to Ian, “The Inspirer from the Inspired.” Item 44. Priced at $17,500.


This is a letter that answers the question is it theologically sound to baptize deformed babies, herein called “monsters?” One wonders how this could be a serious question, but apparently it was in 1693 when Dr. Lazare-André Bocquillot received the question. While Bocquillot responds that in some cases the deformity is caused by bestiality in which case the child isn't human so baptizing would not be appropriate. Doctors didn't know a whole lot about genetics then. However, if the deformity is caused by the “mother's fantasy” or some accident of nature, it must be part of God's plan, so the “monster” is human and should be baptized. Sometimes science and religion should stick to their own spheres. Item 34. $600.


You may be familiar with the Comstock Laws. Passed between 1873 and the early 20th century, these began with prohibiting the mailing of “obscene” material through the postal system but evolved to prohibiting various forms of “immoral” behavior. This sort of “immoral” applied specifically to sexual behavior. The inspiration for these laws was Anthony Comstock, a postal inspector and Secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. He was not a man you would want to invite to a party. Item 206 is a letter Comstock wrote to New York Governor Alonzo Cornell in 1880. It referred to George Gaulier, a man he had arrested as a result of special police powers he was granted. Supposedly, Gaulier was seeking parole and Comstock wanted to stop it. Gaulier was the perfect foil for Comstock, a man who elicited little sympathy. Gaulier was a professor of French at several New York institutions who showed “obscene and filthy books” to boys in his care, “and then he practised the Italian vice on them & Suck'd their persons.” My guess is Comstock wasn't particularly popular in Little Italy either. $750.


You may not know this book or its author, but she was quite a sensation in the 1920s. Nathalia Crane was a child prodigy, a writer of poetry encouraged by her father, once a newspaperman though not well-educated. She submitted her first poem to a local paper at the age of 9, and followed with submissions to others. They were published even though the editors did not know her age, assuming her poems were the work of an adult. Her topics, language, and knowledge were not that of a child. She was celebrated by many, dismissed by a few, and some believed she was either a miracle, a hoax, or maybe even a medium deriving her words from someone else. In reality, she was just a young girl who knew how to use a typewriter. After two books of poetry she wrote this one, her first novel: The Sunken Garden, published in 1926. She continued to write some through the 1930s but without the amazement of her being a child prodigy, as with so many other child prodigies, the public lost interest. She went into education, became a Professor of English at San Diego State University, and died in 1998. She inscribed this copy to Jean Starr Untermeyer, “most sweet friend and gracious lady, to whom I have dedicated The Sunken Garden.” Untermeyer was the former wife of Louis Untermeyer, a poet and strong defender of Crane and her poetry. Item 33. $1,250.


Jack London was a very popular American novelist of the early 20th century. He was one of the first American writers to achieve international success and was well-compensated for it. However, he also was sympathetic to the poor working people and promoted their rights while advocating for socialism. He was similarly concerned for animals, which brings us to this next item. His book, Michael, Brother of Jerry, is about a dog and it describes the poor treatment of performing animals. He particularly focused on cruel training used by circuses to get animals to act. His foreword to the book particularly focuses on the issue. In 1918, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals separately published his foreword, item 317 being a copy of the first edition, first printing of this four-page leaflet. It led to the creation of “Jack London Clubs” that were successful in getting Ringling Bros. circus to discontinue animal performances “for all time” (“all time lasted four years). Recently, circuses have again discontinued some animal acts and certain localities have banned them. Progress has been slower than a performing tortoise but at least some of London's values are starting to achieve greater acceptance.


Riverrun Books & Manuscripts may be reached at 914-478-1339 or mail@riverrunbooks.com. Their website is located at www.riverrunbookshop.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 2:
    John Ford Clymer, U.S. Troops' Triumphant Return to New York Harbor, oil on canvas, circa 1944.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 44:
    Edward Gorey, Illustration of cover and spine for Fonthill, a Comedy by Aubrey Menen, pen and ink, 1973.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 50:
    Harrison Cady, frontispiece for Buster Bear's Twins by Thornton W. Burgess, watercolor and ink, 1921.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 54:
    Ludwig Bemelmans, Pepito, portrait of Pepito from the Madeline book series, mixed media.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 79:
    Gluyas Williams, Fellow Citizens Observation Platform, pen and ink, cartoon published in The New Yorker, March 11, 1933.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 86:
    Thomas Nast, Victory, – for the moment, political cartoon, pen and ink, 1884.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 91:
    Mischa Richter, Lot of 10 cartoons for Field Publications, ink and pencil, circa 1940.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 111:
    Arthur Getz, Sledding In Central Park, casein tempera on canvas, cover of The New Yorker, February 26, 1955.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 124:
    Richard Erdoes, Map of Boston, illustration for unknown children's magazine, gouache on board, circa 1960.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 155:
    Robert Fawcett, The old man looked him over carefully, gouache on board, published in The Saturday Evening Post, June 9, 1945.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 170:
    Violet Oakley, Portrait of Woodrow Wilson, charcoal and pastel, circa 1918.
    Swannm Dec. 14: Lot 188:
    Robert J. Wildhack, Scribner's for March, 1907, mixed media.
    Valuable Books and Manuscripts
    London auction
    13 December
    Find out more
    Christie’s, Explore now
    TREW, Christoph Jacob (1695–1769). Plantae Selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortus curiosorum. [Nuremberg: 1750–1773]. £30,000–40,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623–88). Liber Organicus Astronomiae Europaeae apud Sinas restituate. [Beijing: Board of Astronomy, 1674]. £250,000–350,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ALICE & NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT. Master of Jean Rolin (active 1445–65). Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, [Paris, c.1450–1460]. £120,000–180,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    A SILVER MICROSCOPE. Probably by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), c.1700. £150,000–250,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    C.1311. £100,000–150,000
  • Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Roberts (David) & Croly (George). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumae, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. Lond. 1842 - 1843 [-49]. First Edn. €10,000 to €15,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Incunabula: O'Fihily (Maurice). Duns Scotus Joannes: O'Fihely, Maurice Abp… Venice, 20th November 1497. €8,000 to €12,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: An important file of documents with provenance to G.A. Newsom, manager of the Jacob’s Factory in Dublin, occupied by insurgents during Easter Week 1916. €6,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: WILDE (Oscar), 1854-1900, playwright, aesthete and wit. A lock of Wilde’s Hair, presented by his son to the distinguished Irish actor Mícheál MacLiammóir. €6,000 to €8,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Heaney (Seamus). Bog Poems, London, 1975. Special Limited Edition, No. 33 of 150 Copies, Signed by Author. Illus. by Barrie Cooke. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Binding: Burke, Thomas O.P. (de Burgo). Hibernia Dominicana, Sive Historia Provinciae Hiberniae Ordinis Praedicatorum, ... 1762. First Edition. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: COLLINS, Michael. An important TL, 29 July 1922, addressed to GOVERNMENT on ‘suggested Proclamation warning all concerned that troops have orders to shoot prisoners found sniping, ambushing etc.’. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Scott Fitzgerald (F.) The Great Gatsby, New York (Charles Scribner's Sons) 1925, First Edn. €2,000 to €3,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Yeats (W.B.) The Poems of W.B. Yeats, 2 vols. Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949. Limited Edition, No. 46 of 375 Copies Only, Signed by W.B. Yeats. €1,500 to €2,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of the Russian Empire, Description in English and French, Lg. folio London (S. Gosnell) 1803. First Edn. €1,000 to €1,500.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of Turkey, Illustrated by a Series of Engravings. Lg. folio Lond.(T. Bensley) 1802. First Edn. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Mason (Geo. Henry). The Costume of China, Illustrated with Sixty Engravings. Lg. folio London (for W. Miller) 1800. First Edn. €1,400 to €1,800
  • Sotheby’s
    Important Modern Literature from the Library of an American Filmmaker
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Kerouac, Jack. Typescript scroll of The Dharma Bums. Typed by Kerouac in Orlando, Florida, 1957, published by Viking in 1958. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. The autograph manuscript of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." [Key West, finished April 1936]. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Miller, Henry. Typescript of The Last Book, a working title for Tropic of Cancer, written circa 1931–1932. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Ruscha, Ed. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, with a lengthy inscription to Joe Goode. 40,000 - 60,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. in our time, first edition of Hemingway’s second book. 30,000 - 50,000 USD

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