Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2009 Issue

Letters, Literature and Film from James Pepper Rare Books

Pepper178

James Pepper's latest catalogue features some fascinating letters.


By Michael Stillman

James Pepper Rare Books has issued their Catalogue 178. Pepper catalogues are mostly filled with items of literature or those relating to film and theater. There are always a few exceptions, an occasional work related to history or art, but literature and film predominate. Here are a few we found this time, including some very interesting personal letters.

Item 43 is a biography, along with a most critical letter from its subject. The book is Robert Mitchum. A Biography by George Eells, published in 1984. The tough-guy movie actor was evidently not pleased with his biography. Along with the book is a copy of a letter Mitchum sent to a man who wished Mitchum to sign his copy. After noting that he never met author Eells, Mitchum writes, "The book is a compilation of inaccuracies and downright fabrication, and I have adopted a posture of disclaimer and refusal to sign my name to avoid any semblance of endorsement. I might suggest that you paste this note inside the book, if you so please." Priced at $1,500.

If you think that comment is tough, take a look at this one from writer-journalist-satirist Ambrose Bierce. Bierce had evidently been asked for an opinion of the magazine Lantern, published in Chicago, by its editor. Bierce most caustically replied. "Will I tell you what I think of your magazine? Sure I will. It has thirty-six pages of reading matter. Seventeen are given to the biography of a musician, - German, dead. Four to the mother of a theologician, - German, peasant-wench, dead. (The mag. is published in America, to-day). Five pages about Eugene Field's ancestors. All dead. 17 + 4 + 5 = 26. 36 - 26 = 10. Two pages about Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Three-fourths page about a bad poet and his indifference to - German. Two pages of his poetry. 3 = 3/4 + 2 = 4 3/4. 10 - 4 3/4 = 5 1/4. Not enough to criticize. What your magazine needs is an editor - presumably older, preferably American, and indubitably alive. At least awake." We gather Mr. Bierce didn't particularly care for the publication. The letter was written on May 22, 1913. Later that year, Bierce headed off to Mexico to report on that nation's revolution and was never heard from again. His fate is still unknown. Item 14. $3,000.

Now for a more positive letter. Item 101 includes a first edition, first issue of Gone With The Wind. It is signed by author Margaret Mitchell. This is already highly collectible and very valuable, but additionally, laid into this copy is a 1960 letter from Clark Gable, who played the leading male role in the movie adaptation of the book. The letter was to an editor of the Atlanta Constitution, in response to some written questions he sent. Gable most obligingly wrote out his answers in this letter. Gable states his belief that Gone With The Wind "is one of the finest motion pictures ever made," that Rhett Butler was his favorite role, and that he was more associated with this film than any other. Of author Mitchell, he says that not only did she write "a wonderful novel," but was very helpful to him in describing how to play the role. "I listened to her and followed her advice, and fortunately for me everything she told me was right. Naturally she was the one to whom I went for advice, because she was the one who had created the character. I am forever grateful to Margaret Mitchell." Gable died later that year, making this likely his final observations about this film. $85,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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