Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2009 Issue

An Antiquarian and Rare Miscellany from Forest Books

Forestmisc4

Miscellany Four from Forest Books.


By Michael Stillman

UK bookseller Forest Books has issued a new catalogue headed Miscellany Four. Naturally, a catalogue so titled does not have a specific focus. What we can say is that these are books that qualify for the label "antiquarian," they were mostly published in England, and many are very rare, often being the only known copy. Here is a look at the over 200 items presented in this latest catalogue.

Here is one of those very rare books: The Compleat Servant Maid's Guide; or, the Lady's Delight in Cookery. This is a 1796 printing without a stated location. A single copy of a different edition is all that is otherwise known. It includes 60 short recipes, and perhaps this helps explain the rarity. Among the recipes are calf's head hash, swine's head, calves feet jelly, and other delicacies. Maybe it's rare because no one wanted a book of recipes like this in the first place? Item 40 £1,250 (or roughly $1,714 in U.S. Dollars).

Here is another ridiculous one-of-a-kind item, only this time it is the subject of the book, rather than the book itself: Delineations of Fonthill and its Abbey, by John Rutter, published in 1823. Fonthill was the massive gothic estate of William Beckford, an eccentric heir to a fortune who became a writer, Member of Parliament, major book collector, and wastrel of his father's fortune. Beckford commissioned the most fashionable architect of his day, James Wyatt, to design the palace. Wyatt was evidently careless in the design or overseeing of construction, as Fonthill was not built for the ages. The most prominent feature was a 225-foot tower, which had to be built three times after collapsing twice. Money seemed no object to Beckford who continued to build his massive estate, surrounded by a six-mile wall. However, financial reverses at his inherited Jamaica sugar plantation forced Beckford to sell Fonthill and his library in 1823. It was just as well, as the tower collapsed for a third time two years later, and the rest of Fonthill quickly deteriorated. Within 20 years, it had to be demolished. Item 158. £975 (US $1,338).

Item 135 is an item whose behind the scenes intrigue is undoubtedly more interesting than that within its pages: Ianthe, or the Flower of Caernarvon, a Novel, in Two Volumes. Dedicated by Permission to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. By Emily Clark, Grand-Daughter of the late Colonel Frederick, Son of Theodore, King of Corsica, published in 1798. Her grandfather was the "late" Colonel Frederick because he had shot himself in the head the previous year, unable to find a better way of escaping his debts. However, he was evidently a fraud anyway. Theodore had served briefly as King of Corsica, a German adventurer who helped temporarily free that island from Italian domination. He, like Frederick, ended up in debt in England. Still, it is dubious that Frederick was the son of this King. Nevertheless, Mrs. Clark used the epithet honestly, as she, like everyone else at the time, was fooled by Frederick's claims.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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