Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2008 Issue

European Posters From Burkhard Sülzen

Rare posters from Burkhard Sülzen.


By Michael Stillman

This month we have received our first catalogue from Burkhard Sülzen of Berlin. The title of this 12th catalogue is Schöne & Seltene Plakate, which translates to Fine & Rare Posters. As you might have guessed, this catalogue is in German, so some familiarity with the language is certainly helpful. However, even with a language barrier this is a fascinating catalogue. It is filled with posters from 1890-1973, including many of advertising, politics, film and sports. They are filled with dramatic images to convey their messages, which in turn tell us about their times. This is a riveting catalogue even if you haven't mastered the language. Here are some of these fabulous, sometimes frightening, always intriguing posters.

Item 21 is a poster for a Soviet film celebrating the early days of the Russian Revolution. Its date of 1926, when the effects of that revolution were not yet fully appreciated in Europe, explains why such a film would be shown in Austria. The heading is Der blutige Sommtag, or The bloody Sunday. This event occurred in St. Petersburg in 1905. Thousands of workers protesting labor conditions in the country peacefully marched on the Tsar's home, hoping he would support reforms for workers. Instead, guards fired on the crowd, gunning down hundreds, maybe thousands. Anger from the event led to the unsuccessful Revolution of 1905, which in turn set the stage for the Bolshevik Revolution twelve years later. This poster depicts a guard, with the face of a skeleton, sword in hand, riding a speedy horse. Priced at €480 (approximately $751 in U.S. dollars).

Item 24 is an Austrian poster for the noted Soviet propaganda film Panzerkreuzer Potemkin (Battleship Potemkin). This 1924 film, from noted Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, received critical acclaim even in the West. It tells of another revolt in 1905, this time by the crew of the Potemkin over their conditions, which was also forcefully put down. Eisenstein portrayed the incident in a way designed to elicit the greatest sympathy for the sailors, and contempt for the Tsarist regime. This poster is seen on the cover of the catalogue (click the thumbnail image above to see). €9,500 (US $14,864).

Items 50-57 are another group of pro-Communist posters, but not from the Soviet Union. These are from the German election of 1928, a good year for the Communists who captured over 10% of the vote, several times what the Nazis managed that year. However, in the next two elections, they were only able to add a few points to their vote total while the Nazis became the leading party, with consequences too well known. These posters generally depict Communists as strong, powerful men, while members of other parties are unattractive, bureaucratic-looking individuals.

While the political world was on the cusp of disaster in 1928, there was still relief in the theaters. Item 76 is an Austrian movie poster from 1928 with a seductive image of Greta Garbo for the film The Divine Woman. It is a good thing that this poster can be found, as for the movie itself, all but one nine-minute reel has been lost. It is the only lost Garbo film, and is considered to be one of the most important of the lost silent movies. €2,200 (US $3,442).

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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