Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2007 Issue

Fine Press Books from Oak Knoll


The head of Babeuf, which was quite literally removed during the French Revolution.

Item 26 is an amusing letter written by college student John Steinbeck to a professor, concerning his experience writing verse. It was published by Sherwood and Katherine Carruth Grover, the latter being the daughter of the recipient professor, at Grace Hoper Press in 1964. In his letter, Steinbeck writes, "Certain events such as love, or a national calamity, or May, bring pressure to bear on the individual, and if the pressure is enough, something in the form of verse is bound to be squeezed out." However, he notes that loves and national calamities have been few in his life, and he does not always succumb to May. Therefore, his poetry has been limited to one war, two girls, and three years. Steinbeck goes on to say, "My first gem called forth quite adverse criticism, although I considered it extremely a propos at the time." It was published on a fence, and went something like "Gertie loves Tom, and / Tom loves Gertie." The attention this work attracted "has made me backward about publishing any of my later works," Steinbeck explains. Perhaps this clarifies why Steinbeck is known for his novels rather than his poetry. Priced at $350.

Item 13 is a Book Club of California printing, The Book Called Holinshed's Chronicles, an Account of its Inceptions, Purpose...and Influence on William Shakespeare. It was printed at the Press of Tuscany Alley in 1968. This is a leaf book, including a leaf from the 1587 edition of Holinshed's Chronicles. $300.

Item 24, from the Gehenna Press, published in 1964, is The Defense of Gracchus Babeuf before the High Court of Vendome. This edition limited to 300 copies includes 21 etched portraits. Babeuf was an extremely radical and violence-oriented socialist at the time of the French Revolution. He promoted the "ideals" of the Reign of Terror even after that particularly unpleasant time came to an end. His radical ideas drew little support, so he was mostly ignored, but with major economic problems and fears of starvation in Paris by 1796, he began to develop a serious following. The government saw fit to put Babeuf on trial, where he was convicted and sent to the guillotine. This book presents part of the defense Babeuf raised at trial. $1,500.

Item 48 is Thoughts from the Letters of Petrarch, from the Petrarch Press. Petrarch was a great Italian humanist of the 14th century, regarded by many as a father of the Reniassance, helping to lift Europe out of the Dark Ages. Petrarch's namesake press issued this book to celebrate his 700th birthday in 2003. While Petrarch was unable to attend the party, his contributions to the arts and humanity warranted this recognition so many years after he "crossed." $875.

Oak Knoll Books may be found online at www.oakknoll.com, telephone 302-328-7232.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Adam Smith, <i>Wealth of Nations,</i> first edition, descended from William Alexander, London, 1776. $70,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> George Gershwin, photograph signed & inscribed with autograph musical quotation, <i>An American in Paris,</i> 1928. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Friedrich Engels, <i>The Condition of the Working Class in England,</i> first edition, NY, 1887. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> <i>Bury St. Edmunds Witch Trials,</i> first edition, London, 1682. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Robert Rey, <i>Estampes,</i> complete portfolio of 12 wood engravings, Paris, 1950. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Archive of 47 letters by Enrico Caruso to a lady friend, 1906-20. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Books of Hours in Flemish, Netherlands, 15th century. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Jack Kerouac, <i>Doctor Sax,</i> deluxe limited edition, signed, NY, 1959. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Walt Disney, signature on title-page of Ward Greene’s <i>Lady and the Tramp,</i> first edition, first printing. $3,000 to $4,000.

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