Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2008 Issue

The First From Dragon Books

Catalogue 7 from Dragon Books.


By Michael Stillman

This month we review our first catalogue from Dragon Books of Bel Air (Los Angeles), California. It is their "first complete catalogue," though oddly named Catalogue 7. Dragon was founded by Jay Penske, a lifelong collector who from age 7 determined he one day wanted to run a bookstore. The shop's name is derived from the first book he ever read, Dragon, Dragon, by John Gardner (it's a good thing the first book Mr. Penske read was not Here come the Teletubbies). Their specialty is "15th to 20th century literary works, as well as canons of poetry, philosophy, art, science, and history." This is all top-shelf material, with a gorgeous, well-illustrated catalogue that matches the quality of the books with the quality of their presentation. Along with the fine selection of books herein offered, Dragon Books presents a collection of antiquarian and artistic bookends, including one designed to commemorate Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic. Here are some of the items included in this first of what we expect will be many outstanding catalogues to be seen from Dragon Books in the years ahead.

"Considered the greatest novel ever written," item 33 is the true first English edition (first issue) of War and Peace by "Count Lyof Tolstoi" (more commonly known as Leo Tolstoy). It was published in London in 1886 by Vizetelly and Company and precedes the American editions of the same year. Not only the greatest, but one of the longest novels ever written, it recounts the difficult times of several Russian families as a result of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. This edition is quite rare, no copies having been seen at auction in over 50 years. Priced at $37,500.

Item 21 comes with a very rare inscription from a legendary, and more militant leader of the Black Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The book is The Negro Protest, James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King talk with Kenneth B. Clark. Educator Clark spoke with the trio of civil rights leaders with differing points of view for this 1963 book. The inscription says, "Best, Malcolm X N.J. 1963." At the time, Malcolm X was still a charismatic leader of the Nation of Islam, more commonly known at the time as the "Black Muslims." However, a split was developing between the more politically oriented Malcolm and the religious separatist leader of the Nation, Elijah Muhammad. When Malcolm made an undiplomatic remark about the assassination of President Kennedy ("chickens coming home to roost") he was suspended. Malcolm responded by leaving the Nation of Islam and setting out on his own. His attitudes adjusted in that last year of his life, his views on whites (at least some) becoming less harsh, though his movement was not so peaceful and all-encompassing as that of King. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 by followers of the Nation of Islam, and the evolving nature of his views at the time have led him to be a model for those with both militant and conciliatory beliefs. $12,000.

Item 38 is a first edition account of a very important voyage by American standards. The work, published in 1845, is Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, by Charles Wilkes. Wilkes led an American expedition noted most for its discoveries in Antarctica. While no one has ever compared Wilkes' voyage with those of, say, Magellan or Cook, it was very important to the psyche of the young American nation, for it showed that the United States was now capable of explorations comparable to those of European nations. $13,500.

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
  • Gonnelli:
    Auction 50
    Books, Autographs & Manuscripts
    March 6th-7th 2024
    Gonnelli: Cramer, [Picasso, Chagall , Miró], Trente ans d'activité. Starting price 4800€
    Gonnelli: Futurism
    Gonnelli: Avienus, Opera. 1488. Starting price 1200€
    Gonnelli: Vimont, Relation de ce qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France, en l'année 1642. Starting price 5000€
    Gonnelli: Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum. 1662.
    Gonnelli: Il Petrarcha con la spositione di M. Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo.
    Gonnelli: Poblacion, De usu astrolabi compendium.
  • Il Ponte, Feb. 27-28: KUPKA, Frantisek (1871-1957) - Quatre histoires de blanc et noir. Paris: Marcel Baque, 1926. €5.000-€8.000
    Il Ponte, Feb. 27-28: VASI, Giuseppe Agostino (1710-1782) - Raccolta delle più belle vedute antiche, e moderne di Roma disegnate ed incise secondo lo stato presente. Rome: A. Vasi, 1786. €4.000-€6.000
    Il Ponte, Feb. 27-28: SALAMANCA, Antonio (1478-1562) - [First map depicting the bay of Naples]. [Rome: 1538]. €3.000-€5.000

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions