Rare Books and Photographs from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

Rare Books and Photographs from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

By Michael Stillman

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books has issued a catalogue entitled Rare Books and Photographs 2009. That is probably about as specific a title as one can use here, as there is a wide variety of types of material offered. There is literature, history, travel, classic works, natural history, children's books, art, architecture, costume books, anthologies, military works, and more. This is just for the books. There is a separate section of photographs, including many from colonial times in Africa and India. These are few items we discovered.

Item 42 is a 1797 first edition look at people who were not always of great concern to most governments of that era: The State of the Poor; or, An History of the Labouring Classes in England, from the Conquest to the Present Period... Author Sir Frederick Eden undertook an exhaustive study of the causes of poverty in 18th century England and of the conditions under which the laboring classes lived. The book provides a vast amount of data to support the author's conclusions. Priced at £9,500 (British pounds, or approximately US $15,152).

Item 36 is somewhat of an unusual book: The Gremlins, by Flight Lieutenant Roald Dahl. In time, Dahl, without the "flight lieutenant" moniker, would become one of the best-known children's writers. At this point (1943), he was still serving in the Royal Air Force during wartime. This book is about gremlins who make life challenging for aviators and their serious work. While Dahl was English, this, his first book, was published in America by Walt Disney. The master cartoonist had planned to make a movie out of Dahl's gremlins, but that project never came to pass. £3,250 (US $5,188).

Item 10 is a second edition of L. Frank Baum's first book, Mother Goose in Prose. It was published in 1901, four years after the first edition. The book had been fairly successful the first time around, but the second edition may have been spurred on by the great success Baum had achieved with his 1900 book about the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Mother Goose was also the first book for illustrator Maxfield Parrish, who would become a notable artist in his own right. £1,100 (US $1,757).

Item 88 is a set of The Architecture of A Palladio in Four Books... published in 1715-1720. This is the first English edition (though the text is also presented in French and Italian). Andrea Palladio was the great 16th century Italian architect whose classic styles have proved timeless through changing trends. Giacomo Leoni was an 18th century architect who arrived in England in 1715 and quickly commissioned a translation of Palladio's works, which he published to great success (it sold out). £12,500 US $19,980).