Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2006 Issue

Rare and Important Books from Martayan Lan

Ml38

Rare Books from Martayan Lan


By Michael Stillman

Martayan Lan
is known as one of the premier map sellers in the world. Therefore, it was a bit of a surprise to receive their 38th catalogue. It is titled simply, Rare Books Catalogue. That it is. Not the usual collection of maps and atlases we expect from Martayan Lan, but an outstanding collection of rare, and generally very old and important books. The catalogue is broken down by subjects, with the following covered: travel, geography, voyages, astronomy, physics, mathematics, medicine, natural history, arts and humanities. This collection is appropriate for those who collect at the highest level, and who focus on earlier books, incunables to the 18th century in particular. Such collectors may not normally think of Martayan Lan as a resource, but they would be wise to get a hold of this catalogue. It is right up your alley.

Martayan Lan starts with two items that are not typical of the remaining 165, being a bit much for even most upper tier collectors. However, they are such seminal works to the European discovery of the rest of the world that it is hard not to mention that copies are herein available. Item number 1 is Epistola Christofori Colom, better known the Columbus Letter. As all Americans certainly know, Christopher Columbus sailed on his epic journey of discovery in 1492. On his way back, on February 15, 1493, he is said to have penned three copies of this letter. At least one copy made its way to the printer. Many "editions" were printed, including this, the second from Stephan Plannck of Rome in May 1493. It told of "Indians," as the geographically confused Columbus described them, both the friendly and savage types, and about the abundance of gold and other resources. It was a message that would stir great excitement, and in time, totally change the world. At least eleven editions of the letter were published in 1493, eight in Latin (as is this one). However, the printings were not as substantial as full-length books, and most disappeared. Only around 80 copies of all editions of this, the most important document concerning the New World ever published, are known to still exist. Price available on request.

The second item of extraordinary importance is a copy of the anonymous first printed instructions (published in Nuremberg circa 1505) on how to round the Cape of Good Hope and sail to India. This is only the third known copy. Vasco da Gama had first made the journey in 1499, but he published no accounts. This document provides specific directions, including ports of call and distances along the route. It includes one of the earliest maps showing an open sea below the southern tip of Africa. $650,000.

Item 40 is another hugely important work, but this time in the field of science. It is a 1632 first edition of Galileo's Dialogo. This was the work in which Galileo promoted the Copernican system, in which the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way, considered by many to be heresy at the time. Galileo presents both points of view in the form of a dialogue between each side's defender, but his bias towards a sun centered system showed through. Galileo was condemned by the Church and placed under house arrest the remainder of his life, but his views would eventually prevail. $68,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. Sold for $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. Sold for $65,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Louise Bourgeois, <i>He Disappeared Into Complete Silence,</i> portfolio with complete text & 9 engravings, 1947. Sold for $413,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Erich Maria Remarque, <i>All Quiet on the Western Front,</i> first American edition, Boston, 1929. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, gouache & watercolor illustration for Homer's <i>Odyssey,</i> 1924. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Kurt Vonnegut, archive of 12 letters, signed to his family, 6 illustrated, 1930s-40s. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>Lady Windermere's Fan,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, London, 1893. Sold for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>St. Moritz,</i> 1918. Sold for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> R.J. Waters, 3 panoramas of the San Francisco earthquake & fire, 1906. Sold for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Album with 200 cartes-de-visite, including images by Felice Beato, John Thompson & F.W. Sutton, Japan & China, 1863-69. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. Sold for $40,000.
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

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