Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2008 Issue

Valuable Books from the 15th-19th Century from Librairie Thomas-Scheler

Valuable books from the 15th-19th century.


By Michael Stillman

We are not sure when a catalogue transforms itself into a book, but when it reaches 3/4" thick, is in an 8 1/2 x 12 format, and comes with a hard cover, it is no longer an ordinary catalogue. This is where the catalogue becomes a collectible itself. Bernard and Stephane Clavreuil's Librairie Thomas-Scheler of Paris has released such a magnificent catalogue cum book with the title Livres Precieux du XVe au XIXe siecle (Valuable Books from the 15th to the 19th century). Naturally, one would only expect valuable books in a presentation on this level. The catalogue has been broken down into various sections: Literature, Music and Art; Philosophy and Political Economics; Bindings; Medicine; Science; Natural History; and Voyages. A total of 102 items are offered, with most containing thorough descriptions and illustrations (the page count of 215 for 102 items hints at just how thorough the presentation is). This is a fantastic collection of rare and antiquarian books primarily of European origin.

A note of caution now for English speakers: this catalogue is mostly written in French, so some knowledge of the language is required to understand the descriptions. None is necessary to appreciate the illustrations.

We will start with item 64, one of the most important science books ever written: De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, by Nicolaus Copernicus. This is a 1543 first edition of the work that introduced the revolutionary concept of a heliocentric universe, that is, one in which the Earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around. This was a concept that ran against common sense and religious doctrine, and yet this, along with the idea that the Earth rotates on its axis, mathematically explained the movements of heavenly bodies. An anonymous introduction by minister Andreas Osiander, added without Copernicus' knowledge, stated that his theory could be considered valuable as a calculating device without it having to be a description of reality. It is not known how Copernicus reacted to this late addition (he died during the year in which it was published), though others objected. However, this caveat may have saved Copernicus and his theory from the condemnation and trial Galileo would face in the next century for expressing similar ideas.

Item 41 is the greatest work of Cardinal Bessarion, Adversus calumniatorem Platonis - Correctio liborum Platonis de legibus Georgio Trapezuntio interprete. Cardinal Bessarion was born around 1400 and was actively involved in promoting the Crusades and reunification of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. His success in these endeavors was limited, but he is better remembered for his promotion of the revival of ancient Greek learning. He built a substantial library (later given to, and still held by, St. Mark's National Library in Venice) and translated classic Greek works from philosophers such as Plato. During this period, there were raging arguments between the Platonists and Aristotelians. While a follower of Plato, he believed the two could be reconciled, and this work is a critique of a 1458 work by Trebizonde that was less moderate. Bessarion was almost elected Pope in 1455, and remained an important figure in the Church until his death in 1472. This work is undated but was published in 1469.

Rare Book Monthly

  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
  • 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
  • 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

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