Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2008 Issue

Mystery, Film and Literature from James Pepper Rare Books

Catalogue 173 from James Pepper Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

James Pepper Rare Books has issued Catalogue 173, a new collection of books, manuscripts and ephemera focused on literary first editions, mystery, and items related to the stage and screen. American culture from the past century is on display, from the great books and films, writers and actors, to the not-so great names who also have had their place on center stage for a brief time. This may not be a catalogue of Lincoln and Washington, but it is a catalogue of Americana that will bring back memories, recent and distant, to all who inhabit this land. Here are a few of these items.

Who could better represent American culture of the last quarter of the 20th century, the good, bad and strange, than one of its biggest names, Michael Jackson? From child prodigy to huge star to certified weirdo, it's doubtful anyone else received as much press in his era than Jackson. Item 54 is Michael Jackson - Unauthorized, a 1994 biography by Christopher Andersen. This copy is signed and inscribed, presumably with an ungloved hand, by its subject. It is inscribed "To Holly," to which Jackson has added a heart, peace sign, and a self-portrait drawing in ink. Priced at $1,500.

Item 57 comes from the library of another American cultural icon of the second half of the 20th century, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The book is Pueblo - Mountain, Village, Dance, by Vincent Scully (the art historian, not the Dodgers broadcaster). It sounds like the sort of book she would have found interesting. This copy bears the bookplate "The Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis" from the Sotheby's sale of 1996. $400.

Item 129 is a strange, but most amusing letter from Orson Welles to author Carl Carmer, best known for the autobiographical Stars Fell on Alabama. Carmer had mistaken Welles for a publisher named "Wells," which led Welles to tell a tale about his Godfather and source of his middle name ("Orson" was his middle name), amazingly enough an unrelated man named Orson Wells. He concludes the story with, "The point is I have... and Godfather Orson lack[s] - a little "e" after the first two "L's". It's a pity, too. I should have loved an interview with the author of "Stars Fell On Alabama" and "Listen for a Lonesome Drum." I am, - regrettably - Orson WELLES." $1,850.

Item 78 is a draft letter from a great funnyman, but it is not at all humorous. Groucho Marx had been given a script for a play, which he evidently expected would be of a more serious nature. He wanted a role playing someone other than Groucho Marx. Apparently, it was instead written to Groucho's usual character. Responds Marx, "I hope this isn't too much of a shock, but the play is a terrible disappointment to me. Each time I read it I liked it less." He goes on to say the play is "full of artificial situations that I am sure no audience would swallow. There is hardly a genuine character in the play..." Despite his distaste for the play, he concludes "it should be easy to cast," and recommends Sam Jaffy, Sam Levine, or Monty Wooley for his role. However, "Personally, I don't want to be in it." The typed draft of this letter contains Groucho's hand-written annotations. $450.

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.
  • Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] DAVID BURLIUK WITH ORIGINAL DRAWING and Signed twice. David Burliuk Rare ACA Gallery exhibition catalogue, undated. CA$400 – 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS. Text by Margaret Atwood. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, 2019. $CA400 - 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] LAWRENCE WEINER: POSTERS. Nova Scotia College of Art, Canada,1987. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: WILBUR SMITH: THE DARK OF THE SUN. Heinemann, UK, 1965. Signed First edition. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: ROBERTSON DAVIES: LEAVEN OF MALICE. SIGNED Clark, Irwin, & Co., Canada. 1954. 1st edition. CA$400 – 600
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [THE NOTABLE TRAILS LIBRARY]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: THE TRIAL OF DR. X; ROE V. WADE; THE GALILEO AFFAIR; THE TRIAL OF BERNHARD GOETZ… CA$300 – 500
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [MILITARY FICTION]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: Canada's Royal Military College. REVIEW, THE STONE FRIGATE, A HISTORY OF THE RMC… CA$300 – 400
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [WW1] CANADIAN (C.S.E.F.) SIBERIA 1918-1919 PHOTO ALBUM. With approximately 303 original official war photographs, postcards, and personal photographs. CA$8,000 – 10,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: HANS BELLMER: THE DOLL. 1995, 1st Ed. CA$150 – 300.
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: FAN HO; HONG KONG YESTERDAY. ModernBooks edition, 2006. First edition. 4to. CA$300 – 600.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: TARYN SIMON: AN AMERICAN INDEX OF THE HIDDEN AND UNFAMILIAR. Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2012. Third edition. CA$600 – 1,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: BARBARA KRUGER PICTURE/READINGS. [Self-Published], 1978 First edition. CA$800 – 1,200.

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