Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2006 Issue

50 Fine Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

50

50 Fine Books from Bernard J. Shapero.


by Michael Stillman

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
has issued another one of its magnificent fifty item catalogues. A little while back, we looked at a catalogue of fifty superlative maps and atlases. This month, we review their catalogue of 50 Fine Books. In this case, "fine" is an understatement.

This is not an easy catalogue to describe. The focus is on illustrated books. Illustrated books, naturally, need to be seen to be appreciated. Words just won't do them justice. While "illustrations" is the technically correct word, we are really looking at works of art. Indeed, many of the illustrations were done by artists, and after the books were printed, those same illustrations were often colored by hand, another artistic skill. While the drawings may have at one time been intended more to inform, they are today better appreciated for their beauty. These are among the fifty most beautiful illustrated books you will find.

Here is one note of caution for collectors. These are not inexpensive books. The pricing may be reasonable for what is offered, but this is not material the average collector can readily afford. It is intended for those with the resources to collect at the highest level. That said, anyone can certainly appreciate this wonderful catalogue, and Shapero also offers many other books that are also of great interest, but are within the reach of more typical collecting budgets. Here are few items from this fabulous fifty.

Item 45 is a manuscript Royal Deed from Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Nicholas I ruled Russia from 1825-1855, and by most accounts, was not a particularly pleasant ruler. Whereas his brother and predecessor, Alexander I, had shown some interest in reform, Nicholas was old-style conservative and authoritarian. He similarly supported the status quo in Europe against reform movements, including a harsh suppression of rebellion in Poland, reminiscent of those of the Russian Communists many generations later. Nicholas died during the Crimean War, a war he started and which became a major Russian defeat. However, for all the ugliness of Nicholas' rule, his Royal Deed is a thing of beauty. This deed, signed by Nicholas I, granted a coat of arms and title as a count to General Aleksei Nikitin in 1851. Nikitin had served his country during the Napoleonic Wars and would have been an older man with a long, distinguished record at the time. Priced at £65,000 (British pounds, or approximate U.S. equivalent of $122,862).

America has its Audubon, Britain its John Gould. Gould's The Birds of Great Britain is an ornithological masterpiece akin to Audubon's though somewhat later in time. This is a five-volume set, published from 1862-1873. While the text is informative, it is the illustrations that make this book remarkable. Item 19. £60,000 (US $113,413).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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.

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