Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2006 Issue

Oak Knoll Books Celebrates 30th Anniversary

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

  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000

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