Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2003 Issue

Catalogue Review:<br>James Cummins Bookseller

The latest catalogue from James Cummins Bookseller


By Mike Stillman

James Cummins Bookseller has recently issued his “Catalogue 87.” It is a varied collection of 76 items and what they have in common is that each is uncommon.

An example of uncommon is this strange book about a most unusual woman: The True and Eccentric Life of Betty Bolaine, (Late of Canturbury) a well-known character for Avarice, Meanness, and Vice; who died June 6, 1805, aged Eighty Two, whilst eating a Brown Crust; although worth Twenty thousand Pounds! Containing Anecdotes of Real Facts from her Intimate Acquaintances. Sadly, poor Betty did not have a chance to defend herself since, obviously, she was dead by the time this book was published. But not that long dead. Her reputation must have been such that no period of mourning was deemed necessary before her “intimate acquaintances” felt free to rip her to shreds. The book was published in 1805, the same year she died. And in case you think they were unfair to her, remember these stories are based on “real facts,” not fake ones.

Among the activities attributed to Ms. Bolaine is the attempted murder of her brother, forging her mother’s handwriting to change her will, and living unwed with several men, stealing the winding sheet from the corpse of one when he died. An anecdote to her thriftiness claims that she once bought a mutton pie and made it last by eating the crust, then replacing that crust again and again while leaving the filling untouched. This “tribute,” written by Elisabeth Burgess, was evidently popular enough to be reprinted in 1832 and again in 1880, although under the slightly different title “Life and History of Betty Bolaine, Late of Canterbury, a Well Known Character for Parsimony and Vice, Scarcely equalled in the Annals of Avarice and depravity, Interspersed with Original Poetry.” Item 42 is a first edition from 1805. $350.

While we’re on the subject of depravity, here’s a more serious example. Item 26 is a broadsheet from the French Revolution announcing the formation of the Committee of Public Safety, from which no one was safe. Printed on April 7, 1793, it would only be a few months later that this new committee would be seized by Robespierre, and from it the Reign of Terror would be run. This dark period of the Revolution would come to an end the following year when Robespierre would be sent to the same guillotine he sent so many others during his brief rule. $2,500,

Fast forward 25 years and the tumultuous times of the French Revolution and Napoleonic era are coming to an end. Napoleon is living out his remaining days on St. Helena following his final exile. One privilege he does still have is a library. An interesting piece in that library is Mariotte d’Avot’s Lettres sur l’Angleterre… This recounts her journey to London in 1817-1818, and ironically includes a description of a display of Napoleon’s coach. This first edition has the stamp of Napoleon’s St. Helena library plus the Emperor’s signature (“l’Emp. Napoleon”). Two years after the 1819 printing of this title, Napoleon died and his library was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 1823.

Rare Book Monthly

  • 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
  • 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

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