Literature, Mysteries, and Rare Cinema from James Pepper Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
James Pepper Rare Books has issued a new catalogue, entitled American and English Literature, Mystery and Detective Fiction, Rare Cinema Material. It includes 145 items, a combination of books and filmscripts. A few come with signatures or bookplates, such as that of Harpo Marx, who didn't speak but evidently did read. There are some fine first editions, from authors such as Hemingway, Joyce, Faulkner, Kerouac and mystery writer Agatha Christie. Among the filmscripts are both the very recent, some as current as last year, to those dating to the first half of the last century. There are even a few for films that were never made. If you would like to make a movie about Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, there is an unused script available. And, if you would rather look than read, there is a distinguished portrait of Robert E. Lee, in his post-war role as university president. Here are a few more samples.
This writer may not be remembered as one of the greatest authors, but no one from Shakespeare to Seuss could ever hit a baseball as far. Item 14 is Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball, by none other than George Herman Ruth. This is one of the deluxe, signed copies of the book released in 1928, while Ruth was at his peak. $18,500.
Here is another less than classic work that also touches a major vein of American culture: Here's Barbie. It's Cynthia Lawrence and Bette Lou Maybee's 1962 adventures of Barbie and Ken, still relatively new dolls, and still very much in love (as we all know, Ken and Barbie split a few years ago, Mattel evidently deciding that Ken was too passé). Barbie never became a staple of literature, but this was a nice try. Item 11. $250.
Speaking of authors named Lawrence, here is a more serious one. Item 78 is a book which belonged to T.E. Lawrence, better known as "Lawrence of Arabia." His "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" is one of the more collectible titles you can find. Here is a book he read, and about a subject he loved dearly -- motorcycles. He was an expert on them and various types of engines. This is a 15th edition from 1930 of Dyke's Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia. This copy belonged to Lawrence and includes seven lines of notes in his handwriting. $9,500.
Item 40 is a remarkable anthology, Negro. An Anthology Collected and Edited by Nancy Cunard. Cunard was a white heiress of the steamship company which bears her name, but she spent many years putting together a collection of writings and studies about black arts, social and political issues around the world. Contributors included Samuel Beckett, Jomo Kenyatta, W.E.B. DuBois, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes, Theodore Dreiser, and many more. This 854-page work was published in 1,000 copies in 1934, but did not sell well, and most copies were destroyed during the bombing of London during World War II. $7,500.