Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2006 Issue

Old English Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

A Survey of London and a Treasury for the Diseased.


During the coldest of winters, Londoners used to participate in what was known as the "Frost Fair." These took place on the rare occasions when the Thamas River would freeze solid, allowing fairs to take place on its frozen surface. They were held as early as the freeze of 1683-84, while item 34 pertains to what may have been the last, 1813-1814. The title is Frostiana: or a history of the river Thames in a frozen state... This book was printed on a portable press dragged onto the Thames, and recounts this and earlier fairs and severe cold weather, along with a discussion of "the art of skating." £750 (US $1,381).

Item 109 includes the first British printing of the U.S. Constitution. Published in 1787, it is headed Plan of the new constitution for the United States of America, agreed upon in a convention of the states. This copy belonged to Scottish peer Alexander Fraser, and contains some of his interesting marginal notes. For example, when it comes to the election of the House of Representatives, he observes, "It is not said in what manner the representatives are to be chosen, if every person is to have a vote, or if a limitation of property will be introduced." This is probably the only copy of the Constitution bound together with nine pamphlets pertaining to the East India Company. Apparently Fraser's wife was the daughter of a director of that company. £5,500 (US $10,121).

For those with an interest in Elizabethan London, item 102 is A survey of London by John Stow, published in 1598. This book includes a history of the city, a discussion of major landmarks and features such as the London Bridge and Thames River, a description by wards, and mentions of churches, hospitals, even leper houses. For a most complete look at the London in which Shakespeare grew up, this is an excellent resource. £4,500 (US $8,280).

Item 113 is the rather oddly titled A rich store-house, or a treasury for the diseased. Back when it was published in 1650, many people of limited means could not afford to go to the doctor. Sort of like today. The book was meant "for the benefit and comfort of the poorer sort of people that are not of ability to go to the physitians." Among ailments and procedures covered are blood-letting, corns, deafness, stincking breath, lice or nits, and even the plague. The writer, George Wateson, was himself a "physitian." £2,500. (US $4,601).

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books may be found online at www.shapero.com, or reached by phone at +44 (0)20 7493 0876.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • 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: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $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
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900

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