Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2007 Issue

Five Books from Jean Grolier's Library from Thomas-Scheler

Grolier

The Grolier catalogue from Thomas-Scheler, with an inset of one of his bindings.


By Michael Stillman

It is not everyday that we receive a substantial catalogue that contains just five items. Here is the exception, and it comes from French bookseller Librairie Thomas-Scheler. It offers five books from the 16th century, classics all as one would expect. However, it is not really the content that makes these books unusual. What is exceptional is the bindings. These books all came from the library of the greatest French collector, Jean Grolier, who housed his books in the finest bindings imaginable. The bindings in his library were so remarkable that Grolier's name has survived the almost five centuries since his collecting days. The notable book collectors' organization in New York, the Grolier Club, is named for him.

The title of this catalogue is Le Prince des Bibliophiles Jean Grolier (1479-1565). Grolier was known as the Prince of Bibliophiles. He was involved in finance and served many years as Treasurer-General of France. He was evidently quite well off financially as his collection attests. It contained some 3,000 volumes, of which around 600 are known to survive today. Grolier's books are noted for their ornamental bindings featuring geometric patterns.

When Grolier died in 1565, most of his books passed down to his son-in-law Meric de Vic, an employee of the King, and then on to his son. They remained together for a century after Grolier's death, finally being dispersed in a great sale in 1676.

While the bindings have made Grolier famous, he was not just interested in books as objects of art. It was his deep respect for the knowledge within that led him to treat them in such a spectacular manner. Grolier was known to give many books to his friends, such was his appreciation of them, along with placing so many in his own library.

The five titles offered by Librairie Thomas-Scheler are as follow:

De Poetis latines by Petrus Crinitus, published in Florence in 1505.

Opera, with works by the Roman writers Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, published in Venice in 1515.

De Rerum Natura by Titus Lucretius, published in Venice in 1515.

Il libro del cortegiano by Baldassare Castiglione, published in Venice in 1528.

Le Imagini con tutti I Riversi trovati et le Vite...by Antonio Zantani, published in Parma in 1548.

It is a mark of many fine libraries all over the world to have a Grolier binding in their collection. You can too. For more information and pricing, contact Librairie Thomas-Scheler at +33 (0)1 43 26 97 69, or basane@thomas-scheler.fr.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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