Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2009 Issue

A Mix of the Unusual from Peter Masi Books

Masi200

Number 200 from Peter L. Masi - Books.


By Michael Stillman

This month we review our first catalogue from Peter L. Masi - Books, though for Masi, this is Catalog 200. It is hard to describe this assembly of over 500 items from this rural, western Massachusetts (Montague) bookseller. Masi describes it as "a very mixed bag, some interesting and amusing selections." I'd be tempted to say you might find anything here, but you won't. There's no Shakespeare or Dickens, no Abraham Lincoln, really very little of the type of material you might expect from a typical rare or antiquarian bookseller. Nor, we are pleased to note, will you find high prices. What you will find is the unexpected, the obscure, the eclectic. For those who collect outside of the ordinary, this is the type of catalogue you will appreciate.

Masi has helped organize the collection by placing all items under a category. Among the categories are early and African Americana, medicine, explosives, linguistics, architecture, women, gambling, music, dictionaries, cooking, education, broadsides, paper and printing, manuscripts, onomastics (the study of names), bodybuilding, textiles, travel, engineering... the list goes on. Here is one more: dialect. Masi is something of a specialist in this material, and offers many related titles. If you want to know how Denver firefighters or eastern bituminous coal miners speak (presumably different from eastern anthracite coal miners), Masi has a book for you. Here are a few of them.

Item 10 is a reminder of one of the less pleasant aspects of an earlier time: A.B. Stewart's National Travelers Guide, a fifth edition published in 1940. This is not a regular travel guide, but one intended primarily for African-Americans. At the time, many hotels and restaurants, particularly in the South, would not accommodate black people, so a standard AAA guide wouldn't have been much help. This guide was designed to help black travelers find places where they could stay or visit and be welcome. Priced at $250.

What did children need to know in 1831? Here's the answer: The First Catechism for Children, containing Common Things, Necessary to Be Known at an Early Age. By the Rev. David Blair. Blair was actually a pseudonym for Sir Richard Phillips, and this was an updated, American version of an earlier British work. Some things are still important, such as 'what is America' and 'who is the president,' though perhaps knowing the date on which Adams and Jefferson died is no longer essential (it was July 4, 1826). Children needed to know what is bread, cheese and sugar (today's children know all too much about sugar), but did they really need to know about beer and wine? And then there is the all-important question: 'How far is it to Philadelphia?' That depends on where you are, though W.C. Fields undoubtedly would have said not far enough. Item 249. $35.

Item 399 is an unidentified (circa 1850?) broadside tale of murder most foul. Actually, this poem had been around since the previous century, the story evidently being appealing in its own perverse way. The title is Captain James, who was hung and gibbeted, in England, for starving to death his Cabin Boy. As the story goes, for some trifling offense, the Captain lashes his cabin boy to the mast, where he is left for many days until succumbing to starvation. Along the way, when the boy asks for water, the Captain gives him urine; when he begs for food, he is offered excrement. When the boy refuses, the Captain beats him. When others on board broach the subject, the Captain threatens them with death if they intervene. On returning home, James believes his money will save him, but the boy's mother refuses it, and pursues justice until the evil Captain meets his fate. This tale should not be taken as fact, but as light entertainment. $125.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Measure for Measure</i> (extracted from the First Folio). London, 1623. Sold for $52,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $47,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams: </b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. Sold for $43,825.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $1,912.50.
    <b><center>Bonhams<br>Consignments invited (2020)</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. Sold for $150,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. Sold for $15,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. Sold for $175,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. Sold for $131,325.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> BOOLE, GEORGE. <i>An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.</i> London, 1854. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHANNON, CLAUDE and WARREN WEAVER. <i>The Mathematical Theory of Communication.</i> Urbana, 1949. Sold for $27,575.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Winter in der Schweiz,</i> 1921. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Evelyn Rumsey Carey, <i>Pan American Exposition / Niagara / Buffalo,</i> 1901. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Arnost Hofbauer, <i>Topicuv Salon,</i> 1898. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job,</i> 1896. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Georges de Feure, <i>Le Journal des Ventes,</i> 1898. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Cycles Perfecta,</i> 1897. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Edward Penfield, <i>Orient Cycles / Lead the Leaders,</i> circa 1895. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Adrien Barrère, <i>L’Ideal du Touriste,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Willem Frederick Ten Broek, <i>New York / Wereldtentoonselling / Holland – Amerika Lijn,</i> 1938. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Dwight Clark Shepler, <i>Sun Valley / Union Pacific.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Flexible Flyer Splitkein / Smuggler’s Notch,</i> circa 1935. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Louis Bonhajo, <i>Vote / League of Women Voters,</i> 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.

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