Varied New Acquisitions at Michael Sharpe Rare & Antiquarian Books
By Michael Stillman
Michael Sharpe Rare and Antiquarian Books has issued their Book List 2, dated June 2008. It is described as "A selection of newly acquired books, music, photographs, and autograph letters." In other words, you can find just about anything in this catalogue of widely diverse material. If there is a theme, it is that this varied material is all of significance and meant for collectors. Here are a few of the recently acquired items now available.
Item 80, with one of its lithographs shown on the cover of this catalogue (click thumbnail image above), is Mexico in 1827. The British government sent Henry George Ward to the newly independent country to learn more of its potential for mining, but Ward came back with much more detail about the nation. This is an unusual copy of Ward's 1828 first edition. Most copies have one hand-colored plate, but in this copy, all 13 have been colored by a contemporary hand. Sharpe has found no record of any other such copy and believes this one may have been prepared for presentation by the author. Priced at $5,000.
As long as we are on the south side of the border, here is an even older Mexican report: The History of Mexico, by Francisco Clavigero. This first edition in English was published in 1787, during the later years of Spanish rule. Item 12 contains the bookplate of Theodore Hoover, President Herbert Hoover's brother. $4,500.
Item 36 is a copy of a very important American work, Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia. This was the only book by Jefferson published during his lifetime. It covered not only details about the commonwealth, but also some of Jefferson's philosophical views. Offered is a third edition printed in 1801, the year Jefferson became president. It contains a bookplate stating it is "The Property of the Fallsington Library Co." It was once, though undoubtedly deaccessioned many years ago. The Fallsington Library, of Fallsington, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1800 and opened for business in 1802. According to the Historic Fallsington website, it was started with just 238 books. Considering the timing of its opening, the publication date of this volume, and the importance of this book, it seems likely this was one of the 238. $750.
Item 74 includes a copy the first book by Henry David Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers, published in 1849. It recounts a boating trip with his brother, a look at life in the wilderness, a recurring theme for Thoreau. This copy contains several pencil annotations in Thoreau's hand, including a handwritten last three lines of page 396, which were dropped from the printing. Thoreau effectively took responsibility for the publishing and selling of this book, which explains why in some copies the missing lines are supplied in Thoreau's hand. Unfortunately, the book was not a success, and Thoreau for years found himself in debt. No wonder he wanted to escape to the woods. Of course, if he could have sold just one copy at today's prices, he would not have had another care in the world. Offered with his first book is an 1854 first edition of Thoreau's best-known work, Walden; or, Life in the Woods. $45,000.