Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2008 Issue

Bob's Favorites Highlight Latest Oak Knoll Catalogue

Bob's Favorites from Oak Knoll Books.


By Michael Stillman

Catalogue 285 has been released by Oak Knoll Books. It includes three broad sections - A Selection of Bob's Favorites about Book Collecting and Bookselling, Books About Books, and Bibliography. Considering that Bob Fleck has been in the business of selling books long enough to publish 285 catalogues, we will assume his favorites to be something special. Before we take a look at some of the individual titles offered, we note that there is an exceptional collection of Limited Editions Club works being offered, too many to select any in particular to describe. In all there are 162 such items, and suffice to say the works from this fine, limited edition publisher are some of the most attractive books printed during the past century. Now, we will describe a few of the other 200+ items presented in the catalogue.

We will start with perhaps the masterpiece of the first of the notably obsessive collectors, Thomas Frognall Dibdin. Dibdin was obsessed with book collecting, though he did not have the funds to collect at the very highest level. He wrote several treatises on book collecting, including this item, Bibliographical Decameron; or, Ten Days Pleasant Discourse upon Illuminated Manuscripts, and Subjects Connected with Early Engraving, Typography, and Bibliography. In it, Dibdin uses imaginary conversations to display his thoughts on the book arts. Shortly after the book was printed, Dibdin dramatically destroyed the plates in front of the Roxburghe Club. The point was to make clear there would be no further printings or editions to reduce the value of the limited number he had produced. Item 11, three volumes published in 1817. Priced at $2,250.

If Dibdin was obsessive, Sir Thomas Phillipps was downright maniacal. Phillipps was the mid-19th century British collector who tried to accumulate a copy of every book and manuscript in existence. While such is impossible, he probably came as close any anyone could. He filled his House floor to ceiling with everything from notable books to scraps of paper with something written on them. The expanding collection in his home worked its way from his dining room, which went from cramped to unusable, all the way to his bedroom, which eventually only had book-free space set aside for a bed and dresser. His collection reached an estimated 100,000 books and 60,000 manuscripts before Phillipps passed on and his collection was dispersed through numerous auctions. However, in the process, Phillipps did achieve much of his goal, that is, preserving printed and manuscript material that might otherwise have disappeared forever, even if it is now scattered among many collections. Item 28 is the definitive study of Phillipps, Phillipps Studies, a five-volume 1951-1960 work by A.N.L. Munby. It covers the formation of the Phillipps library, his cataloguing and printing, his personal affairs, and the dispersion of his collection, which was still going on long after this set was completed. $400.

Item 65 is a complete run of a hard-to-find periodical, The Book Collector's Packet. It was published between 1932 and 1946, but not continuously. Part of what makes it difficult to find is that it stopped and restarted publishing twice before finally closing down for good. During its run, it published articles about fine presses, book production, private presses and various other topics pertaining to the book arts. $450.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

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