Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2008 Issue

Signed Books, Letters and Documents from James Pepper Rare Books

Pepper169

James Pepper features signed items in his latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

From James Pepper Rare Books comes a new collection: Catalogue 169. 143 Signed Books -- Autograph Letters and Documents. Pepper's catalogues generally feature many literary first editions and items related to theater and film, and this is no exception. However, this one is unusual in that all of the items are signed, including many with letters or inscriptions. Often we get to see a few words from the writers that were not intended for publication. This is a catalogue filled with familiar works and names, great additions to a collection focused on individual writers and performers. Here are a few of those 143 books and documents.

Item 25 is a most interesting and important letter between two major, though very different, writers. It is a typed, signed ("G.B.S.") 1922 letter from George Bernard Shaw to T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence privately printed eight copies of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which he sent out to some closest friends for comment. He was unsure whether it should be substantially revised or even whether it should be saved at all. In his response, Shaw urges "patience" in making a decision, while admitting he had not yet read the entire book. Shaw notes he has "sampled" it, but had not had a chance to completely read the work as his wife has "seized" it to read herself. From what he has read, Shaw states, "obviously there are some things in it that you cannot publish," but he is adamant in calling for its preservations. Writes Shaw, "Destruction being out of the question: If I thought you capable of that I should take the book to London, burn down my house here, and tell you that the book had perished in the flames." As for the book's length, Shaw observes, "I read the Bible in my youth straight through from Genesis to the Epistles; and I daresay I shall survive your Seven Pillars." However, he notes that an abridgement will be needed for general circulation. Shaw would later write to Prime Minister Baldwin (presumably after completing the book) that the work was a "masterpiece." Letter priced at $25,000.

Item 43 is another letter, this one from physicist/genius Albert Einstein to his son, Hans Albert. The date was October 27, 1938, the Einsteins having already escaped Germany and Nazi persecution, and with war now looming on the horizon. Along with comments on family matters, the great scientist points out, "...it is lucky that you're here now and no longer camped on the volcano -- especially given that you're afflicted with the name Einstein which is detested in Germany." $11,000.

Item 124 is the Deluxe Film Edition of Frau Im Mond ("Woman in the Moon," which would later be known in English as Rocket to the Moon). The book was written by Thea Von Harbou, while the screenplay for the film was prepared by Director Fritz Lang, her husband. The two cooperated on films from 1922-1933, including the notable Metropolis. This film edition was produced in a limited run of 100 copies for the film's premier. It is signed by both Lang and Von Harbou. The two created many works of science fiction, but soon the events which tore Einstein from his homeland would rip this partnership apart. Von Harbou was attracted to the Nazi cause; Lang was horrified by it. They divorced in 1933, and Lang fled the country the following year. Von Harbou would fade into obscurity after the fall of Germany, while Lang would have a continuing illustrious career in America. $12,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

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