Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2006 Issue

Oak Knoll Books Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Oak275

Oak Knoll celebrates its 30th anniversary.


By Michael Stillman

Oak Knoll Books
has issued its 275th catalogue, in support of the antiquarian bookseller's 30th anniversary. That's a lot of years and a lot of catalogues, but the New Castle, Delaware, bookseller shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, their catalogues are the most extensive in terms of listings we receive. This is a short one, about half the typical size, and yet it still offers 566 items. It contains mostly books within the various divisions of Oak Knoll's "books about books" specialty: bibliography, bookselling, booksellers, binding, printing, bookplates, even forgeries. Then, there is also a catchall "other" section, so that anything is possible. Here are a few items from this indomitable bookseller whom we have no doubt will be around for another thirty years, or until melting ice caps turn New Castle into New Atlantis.

The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft is something of an autobiography, but not Ryecroft's. Henry Ryecroft was the creation of author George Gissing, but there were many similarities between his real life and Ryecroft's fictional one. Gissing struggled for much of his life, literate and smart, but financially poor. Along the way, he would make a few unwise choices that helped create his difficult situation. A promising student, he took up with a prostitute, stole to support her, was kicked out of school and briefly imprisoned, married her, and was miserable until she died. His second wife was no better; another woman with whom he had little in common, who went insane. The book starts with Gissing's take on Ryecroft's obituary, which mentioned when he was born and died, and the titles of a few of his books, but little else. An unremarkable obituary for an unremarkable man. Perhaps that was how Gissing saw his own life. Ryecroft struggled to get by, occasionally had a little extra to spend on travel, and persevered. However, the fictional character, out of the blue, is bequeathed a healthy life annuity by a friend, which allows him to live a more relaxed, contemplative life, which he expounds upon in the diaries written in these later years by Ryecroft/Gissing. Perhaps this was Gissing's ideal world. Item 510 is the first American edition of this imaginary diary, published in 1903, the year Gissing died. Priced at $125.

Item 441 is a particularly unusual selection for Oak Knoll, the log book for a merchant ship (the Lama or Lamas) which sailed from Boston to Brazil to Cape Verde and back in 1829-1830. There were no mutinies or shipwrecks in this voyage, but the log book does present a window on trade at this time. Vinegar, tar, rosin and soap are among the commodities traded. This was the era of shoe manufacturing in the Boston area, and the Lama carries shoes to Brazil. In return, she transports cowhides back to Boston. Salt, fish, and vegetables are picked up in the Cape Verde Islands. Included is additional correspondence from the log-keeper, Isaac Bradford. $1,975.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.

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