Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2007 Issue

Exceptional Works in Catalogue 1 from Michael Sharp Rare and Antiquarian Books

The first catalogue from Michael Sharpe Rare and Antiquarian Books.


By Michael Stillman

Just published this past month is the first catalogue (Catalog No. 1) from Michael Sharpe Rare and Antiquarian Books of Pasadena, California. The firm's founder is a California businessman and philanthropist as well as long-time book collector. Mr. Sharpe has brought in four veterans of Los Angeles' fabled Heritage Book Shop, whose owners recently elected to sell their valuable real estate and retire. Joining Sharpe are Nat Des Marais, Michael Garabedian, Kimberly Cummings, and J.P. Morgan (Sharpe notes, "what a fine name for a rare book shop employee!"). The result is a new shop with many decades of history and experience.

The first Sharpe catalogue covers a variety of subjects. They describe their collection as "comprising holdings in voyages and travel, science and natural history, literature, fine printing, Western Americana, and books from Printing and the Mind of Man." The consistent theme here is that these are exceptional books, the most valued and collectible of titles, and generally in fine or outstanding condition for their age. Mr. Sharpe is obviously a discerning collector and carries that eye over to the books being offered in the shop that bears his name. Here are a few examples.

We will start with the ultimate in rare and antiquarian books, at least in terms of being rare and antiquarian, though perhaps not what we typically describe as "books." Item 53 is a cuneiform tablet from Mesopotamia, almost 3,500 years old. This is a large Sumerian fragment of the Epic of Gilgamesh from the Middle Babylonian period, around 1400 BC. The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest known pieces of literature, it dating back to the third millennium BC. Gilgamesh was a Sumerian king, leader of the walled city of Uruk in what is today Iraq (government there operated more efficiently five millennia ago). It is not known whether he is a totally mythical figure or was a real king, though the latter is certainly a possibility. If so, however, his exploits were clearly exaggerated in the epic, as might be expected in a story not written until many centuries after its characters died. If Gilgamesh did exist, he likely ruled in the period 2700-2500 BC. And, even if Gilgamesh was not real, this tablet certainly is, and is likely to be the oldest piece of writing you will find available for purchase. Priced at $450,000.

Item 79 is the story of another great leader, though he lived some 4,500 years after Gilgamesh. This is The Life of George Washington, five volumes of the first editions, published from 1804-1807. It was written by John Marshall, the most important Supreme Court Chief Justice in American history, and a great admirer of the nation's first Chief Executive. Washington was also the subject of many myths, but such were unnecessary, his achievements as accounted by Marshall being quite real. $12,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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