Art, Architecture and More Pre-1800 Books from Charles Wood
Item 1 is the right place to start this catalogue, though it was placed there based on the authors' surname, rather than its importance. The book is, The works in architecture of Robert and James Adams, Esquires, by the Adams brothers. Wood describes this 1773-1779 first edition set as "the most important and one of the rarest British architectural books of the eighteenth century." It is said to be both comprehensive and lavishly illustrated, but evidently did not sell nearly as well as the brothers expected. Many copies apparently remained unsold. The Adams brothers would probably be shocked, but pleased, to see what it is worth today. $85,000.
Here is a title that sounds like some new age work on preparing to reach your final reward: Elements of the art of dying, containing the theory of dying in general... No need to call Dr. Kevorkian for his opinion. This 1792 book by Claude Louis Berthollet is about coloring things. Wood describes this as "the first modern book on dying." Berthollet was a chemist, colleague of famed chemist Lavoisier, and a friend of Napoleon. The better known Lavoisier did become an expert on the other kind of dying, being beheaded during the terror of the French Revolution. Berthollet managed to keep a lower profile, being rewarded in turn with a long life. Item 8. $850.
Charles Tiphaigne de la Roche wrote of an imaginary world in this 1761 work, translated from the first edition in French of 1760: Giphantia: or a view of what has passed, what is now passing, and, during the present century, what will pass, in the world. One of his predictions is amazingly close to photography. In Giphantia, they coat a mirror with a sticky substance, which, instead of reflecting images, captures them as a painting on canvas. However, this image is a perfect duplication of what is seen. "This impression of the image is instantaneous, and the canvas is immediately carried away into some dark place. An hour later the impression is dry, and you have a picture..." Item 149. $2,600.
Item 39 is The Roman history abridged for use of schools by Oliver Goldsmith. This 1786 fourth edition carries a special label on the cover. The label is headed "First Class," and states that the book was given to Miss Engleheart for her performance at Mrs. Chassaing's French Boarding School, Sloan House, Chelsea, Xmas 1789. Congratulations, Miss Engleheart! The school's motto was "Every Lady has a separate bed," so we can assume that Miss Engleheart slept in well-deserved luxury. Mrs. Chassaing's school long ago closed its doors, and Miss Engleheart faded into history, but the young lady's accomplishments will be remembered as long as this book graces someone's bookshelves, possibly your own. $500.
You may reach Charles Wood Antiquarian Booksellers online at www.cbwoodbooks.com or by phone at 617-868-1711.