Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2023 Issue

Present Perfect from Shapero Rare Books

Present Perfect.

Shapero Rare Books has issued a catalogue with one of those mysterious names, Present Perfect. Since the world at present isn't perfect, I'm going to guess this was intended for the holidays but we received it a bit too late. So, you'll have to give this present to yourself. Psychologists will tell you self-love is a good thing. Shapero does make it easier to understand what this catalogue is all about with a table of contents. Here is what is has: Fiction, Poetry & Prose, Children's & Illustrated, Visual & Performing Arts, Special Interest & Sports, Judaica & Hebraica, Near East & Islamic, and Modern Prints. These are a few selections.


In the early twentieth century, Jerusalem was controlled by the declining Ottoman Empire. The decline was hastened when the Ottomans joined the wrong side in World War I. In 1917, British forces, under Field Marshall Edmund Allenby, captured the city. On December 9, 1917, Allenby issued this Proclamation of Martial Law in Jerusalem. He announced, “The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under my command has resulted in the occupation of your city by my forces. I therefore here and now proclaim it to be under Martial Law.” However, he went on to reassure the inhabitants of the city that “every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest or customary place of prayer, of whatsoever form of the three religions, will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faiths they are sacred.” There are actually two copies of the broadside proclamation, of which only 300 copies apiece were printed. One contains the proclamation in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and Greek, while the other has it in English, French and Italian. Item 130 has both. Priced at £10, 000 (British pounds or approximately US $12,362).


There must be thousands of books that have been written about the Second World War, that terrible conflagration which hopefully will always be the worst war to ensnare practically the whole world. Who, then, could be better to write an account of it than the man who was more deeply involved and at the center of the action than anyone else on earth? That, of course, would be Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister who led his country through its “darkest hour,” when it appeared all hope was lost. He led Britain to its eventual victory and was rewarded by his countrymen with being voted out of office. You can't win them all. On a positive note, his early retirement gave Churchill a chance to write his account, and the great and prolific writer did not disappoint. Item 124 is The Second World War: The Gathering Storm; Their Finest Hour; The Grand Alliance; The Hinge of Fate; Closing the Ring; Triumph and Tragedy. Each of those secondary headings represents one of the six volumes in this set, published 1948-1954. Churchill was already an accomplished writer and historian before becoming Britain's wartime P.M., and after his predecessor's policy of appeasement failed, he refused to countenance appeasement, compromise, or a failure of will despite the odds. It's hardly surprising that his nation today is the greatest supporter of Ukraine and its leader's similar determination to save his country. £1,950 (US $2,407).


Evelyn Waugh was a notable writer of the twentieth century, writing novels, biographies, satire, and reports as a journalist. Waugh sent a copy of his novel The Loved One, to the then Queen Elizabeth in 1948. This Queen Elizabeth was not the one who recently passed on after the longest reign ever of any British monarch, but her mother, wife of George VI. When King George died, her daughter became Queen and this Elizabeth thereafter was known as the “Queen Mother.” In 1948, the Consort Queen Elizabeth wrote this letter to Waugh, expressing her gratitude. In it, she says, “I am enchanted to have the book in such lovely guise. The thick smooth paper & beautiful print and the perfect illustrations are a joy.” That might sound like a backhanded compliment to say to the writer, but then she adds, “It has been many years since I have enjoyed & admired a book as much as The Loved One, it is so brilliant, so funny & so horrifying, just what one needs in this rather grey, self-conscious world of today.” The “Queen Mum” was one of Britain's most popular personalities through the 50 years she lived after she was no longer just “Queen.” Item 56. £2,250 (US $2,782).


Here is a photograph that captured both Elizabeths, George VI, and their younger daughter, Princess Margaret. It was taken on May 12, 1937, by Dorothy Wilding, the first female royal photographer. George and Elizabeth were an accidental King and Queen. As the second son of George V, George VI was never supposed to ascend to the throne. George didn't even want the job. However, he was thrust into the role when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry “the woman I love,” the twice divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson. George had only been King a few months at the time of this photograph, which was taken on the day of his official Coronation. The family looks the part, quite regal. The photo has been signed and dated by both George and Elizabeth (the elder). It came from the estate of Sir Frederick Still, pediatrician to the younger Elizabeth and Margaret. Item 128. £6,500 (US $8,036).


These are a pair of memorial posters. They are not for notable people. They are for notable ships. Each is pictured. Both sank. Item 116 is In Memoriam Lusitania, from 1915. The Lusitania was a passenger liner when it was struck by a German u-boat (submarine) on May 7, 1915. This was during the First World War and the Germans feared she might be carrying more than passengers. The strike was fatal and fast. The crew quickly lost control of the ship, and in just 18 minutes, the massive ship sank under the water. Of the 1,959 passengers and crew onboard, 764 survived while 1,195 died. The attack on the Lusitania was certainly not good publicity for Germany, and while America did not join the war for another two years, it became part of the justification when she did. The other poster, item 117, is is In Memoriam Titanic and there's no need to describe the Titanic sinking of 1912 as everyone knows the story. It was an iceberg that did her in, not an attack. Lusitania poster - £375 (US $463). Titanic poster - £500 (US $618).


Shapero Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)20 7493 0876 or rarebooks@shapero.com. Their website is www.shapero.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions