Some Unusual Antiquarian Books from Samuel Gedge Ltd.
By Michael Stillman
Just published is the sparsely titled Catalogue II from Samuel Gedge Ltd. While the title is simple, the material is far more complex. It offers a mix of early material -- much 17th and 18th century -- from England and the Continent. It is hard to peg the material as it covers a broad spectrum of fields. We will present a quick look with the note that we may have picked out some of the more unusual type of works as our samples of the just over 100 items presented.
Americans learned many of their traditions from their British ancestors. Here's one the British might just as soon forget -- hanging "witches." Item 35 is a two-part book, the first A Short Treatise Touching Sheriffs...and the second the more interesting A Tryal of Witches...Before Sir Matthew Hale. This 1664 trial led to the hanging of two old ladies for bewitching children, though their guilt is certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt. Hale may have later become embarrassed by this trial, as he never mentioned it in his writings, and this book was not published until 1682, six years after his death. As we all know, the Americans picked up this particular British custom and proved they could do it even "better" at Salem. Priced at £600 (British pounds, or approximate U.S. equivalent of $1,206).
Item 62 is A True Relation of the Wonderful Cure of Mary Maillard. "True" may be a relative term here. Lame almost all of her life, Miss Maillard was cured on November 26, 1693. A thirteen-year-old Huguenot refugee living in London, her supernatural cure managed to convince many onlookers. The Mayor of London, four of the Queen's surgeons, and various clergymen investigated the case. Many physicians joined Miss Maillard and her family in attesting to her truthfulness. This book was published in 1694. £550 ($1,105).
For those not blessed with a miraculous cure, there is A Treatise of Chirurgical Operations after the Newest, and most exact Method founded on the Structure of the Parts. Evidently, if your parts weren't working quite right, this book provided surgical methods for correcting their deficiencies. We recommend this treatise with the caveat not to try these remedies at home. Author Joseph de la Charriere, in this 1695 English translation of his French work, guides you through various surgeries. By the way, for those unfamiliar with the term "chirurgical," it is an earlier word for "surgical." £750 (US $1,508).