Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2007 Issue

Novels, Poetry and More from The Brick Row Book Shop

Brick230

Brick Row's latest catalogue with Updike's Thurber Dog on cover.


By Michael Stillman

This month we review our first catalogue from The Brick Row Book Shop. Brick Row may be new to us, but not to bookselling. The firm was founded by former Yale students in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1915, and over the years, in keeping with the advice of Horace Greeley, has followed a slow progression west. With stops at Princeton, New Jersey, New York, and Austin, Texas, it migrated all the way to its present location in San Francisco. For the past 35 years, California has been its home. It is currently operated by its third owner, John Crichton, who purchased the firm in 1983.

This latest catalogue is headed Miscellany No. 47: Recent Acquisitions. This is a generalist catalogue. However, there are notable concentrations of 19th century and earlier novels and poetry. Most are not among the best known novels and poems. They were either obscure in their time, or were once popular but now not often remembered. Some of the earlier novels are particularly interesting since at the turn of the 19th century, novels were generally looked down upon. They were thought to corrupt the mind with diversionary if not downright salacious trash. Books were supposed to offer truth and learning. It would take many years for the novel to achieve a measure of respectability. Nevertheless, this type of book, like everything that touches on the scandalous, quickly became quite popular. Brick Row takes us back to those early days with many of the items in their catalogue. Now let's take a look inside.

An indication of the low esteem with which novels were once held can be seen in Emily Hamilton, a Novel. Founded on Incidents in Real Life. By a Young Lady of Worcester County. Indications of the image problem can be seen by the fact that author Sukey Vickery did not use her name, and in her insistence that it is not pure fiction, but based on "real life." This 1803 work was published by the very respectable Isaiah Thomas, founder of the American Antiquarian Society, still the largest American repository of pre-1876 books. It tells the story of three young girls who deal with such issues as prearranged marriages and unwanted suitors. In the introduction, Ms. Vickery feels compelled to defend the merit of novels, stating, "Novels ought not to be indiscriminately condemned, since many of them afford an innocent and instructive amusement, and being written in the best style furnish the young reader with elegant language and ideas." Item 82. Priced at $1,250.

Here is a novel evidently not written in the "best style." The title is Vigor, and while it appeared under the pseudonym Walter Barrett, Clerk, the author was Joseph Scoville. According to Sabin, the 1864 book was suppressed by Carleton of New York, its own publisher. Apparently this copy was once in the library of John Harvey Vincent Arnold, whose collection went up for auction in 1879. In that sale catalogue, the book was described as, "one of the most atrocious and grossly indecent novels ever published in this country. It was rightly suppressed shortly after publication." Kind of makes you want to read it. You can, for just $150. Item 5.

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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