Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2008 Issue

Literature (and more) from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins

The latest from James Cummins (that's "Ulysses" written on the cover, in case you didn't notice).


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from James Cummins Bookseller is succinctly titled Literature. Perhaps that's a bit too succinct, as while the main focus is literature, there are also numerous works of poetry, and several manuscript items, such as letters from noted authors. You won't find much in the way of obscure writers here. You will recognize most if not all of the names in this catalogue. They are the giants of literature and poetry. Let's take a look inside the pages.

Other than that of Noah Webster, the best-known English-language dictionary was the one created by Samuel Johnson. Published in 1755, it was the first modern, comprehensive dictionary. Johnson signed on to produce the dictionary in 1746, expecting it would take three years to complete. It took nine. When completed, it was a massive work, containing 42,773 words, many with long and detailed definitions. Item 68 is a copy of Johnson's plan, published in 1747, entitled The Plan of a Dictionary of the English Language... This copy bears the bookplate of H. Buxton Forman, scholar, collector, and forger. Priced at $11,000.

Despite his great efforts, Johnson would probably long ago have faded into obscurity were it not for his devoted friend and biographer James Boswell. His The Life of Samuel Johnson is one of the most noted of all English biographies, and it enabled the reputations of both biographer and his subject to endure for centuries. Item 12 is a copy of the first edition, second state of this 1791 biography. $7,500.

Piracy has long been the scourge of great writers. Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling were victims at the turn of the century. Kipling had written Twain for help in responding to pirate publisher Fenno. Item 22 is a letter and postcard from Twain (signed "S L Clemens") to Kipling's attorney, Augustus Gurlitz, from 1900. Twain acknowledges receipt of the authorized edition of Kipling's work, and professes his support for the cause, though too busy writing himself to dedicate much time to it. The following year, Twain testified in Kipling's copyright infringement lawsuit, and hired Gurlitz to prosecute his own piracy suit against the publisher Butler Brothers. $5,000.

Item 57 is an inscribed second edition (1927) of Robert Frost's North of Boston. Frost has handwritten the text of his six-line poem Atmosphere, and noted it is "For Robert Coffin." Coffin was a fellow poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1936 (Frost won it in 1937). $6,000.

Item 26 is a signed agreement by James Fenimore Cooper with publisher George P. Putnam for the "plates of a new work of fiction" by the "first day of August next." The document is undated, but since Putnam did not go out on his own until the dissolution of the firm Wiley and Putnam in 1847, this is evidently an agreement for Cooper's last novel, The Ways of the Hour. The one-page document is written in Cooper's hand. $5,500.

Wallace Stevens combined two surprisingly unrelated careers, Pulitzer Prize winning writer and insurance company executive for the Hartford. The insurance company position must have been more than sufficient to pay his bills, as item 97 reveals. It is a 1944 letter on Hartford stationary to Allen Tate of the Sewanee Review, regarding the publication of an essay he wrote. Writes Stevens, "...I should like to waive any payment for this article... I know that you wish to pay, but forget it." $5,000.

James Cummins Bookseller may be found online at www.jamescumminsbookseller.com, telephone 212-688-6441.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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