Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2004 Issue

Charles Wood Offers Books <br>On Conserving Works of Art

Woodcover[1]

Conservation and Restoriation of Works of Art from Charles Wood.


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from Charles Wood is an absolute must for anyone who collects 18th and 19th century works pertaining to the field of art. It is a well-described collection of 386 books, and they cover just about everything imaginable in the preparation, preservation, and restoration of art. The official title is “Conservation & Restoration of Works of Art” and it is Wood’s 119th catalogue.

Among the subjects covered by the volumes in this catalogue are painting with oil (or “oyl” in the really old volumes), watercolors, color shades and charts, preservation, painting on glass, metal, and ceramics, sketching, cleaning works of art, many titles on dyeing, varnish, weaving, engravings, concrete, coppersmithing, even paperhanging. The list goes on. We can only mention a few volumes, and these may not completely reflect the works in this catalogue as we have selected some of the more unusual titles, rather than those which are most obviously related to art.

Here’s one that covers art and more: Johann Beckmann’s A History of Inventions and Discoveries. This is an 1814 second English edition of a book originally published in German in 1777, but it includes an additional fourth volume. It offers sections on dyeing, weaving, papermaking, sugar refining, shoemaking, watchmaking, glass cutting and more. All of 1777’s latest technology. Item 24. Priced at $550.

Then there are those dealing with some borderline forms of art. Item 277 is Alexander Paul’s The Practical Ostrich Feather Dyer. Dyed ostrich feathers don’t have a lot of practical use today (unless you are an unattractive ostrich), but once upon a time they were desired for ladies’ hats. And, if you can prove that these recipes don’t work, the author will pay you $1,000, enough to both cover the cost of the book and yield a tidy profit. Of course, it may not be easy to track down the author as this revised edition was printed in 1888. $550.

Item 3 is J. W. Alston’s 1820 Hints to Young Practitioners in the Study of Landscape Painting, Illustrated by Five Engravings Intended to Show the Different Stages of Neutral Tint, to which are added Instructions on the Art of Painting on Velvet. Painting on velvet? Does this mean that before there were velvet Elvises, there were velvet Beethovens? $300.

Item 62 will intrigue collectors of both the visual arts and contemporary music. It is Louis Castel’s L’Optique des Couleurs… from 1740. This includes a description of a musical instrument which would combine the projection of colors with the playing of individual keys. It was a forerunner of the early electronic color organs of the 1890s. Move ahead another century and it leads to the psychedelic light shows of modern musical concerts. $1,000.

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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