Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2009 Issue

History of Ideas from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books

Thoemmes18

History of Ideas from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

We have received the latest presentation from Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books, their 18th catalogue, History of Ideas. Thoemmes specializes in books of philosophy, covering the great thoughts, and the not-so great thoughts, of man. Most of these go back to the days when science, philosophy, and religion were more intertwined than they are today. Observation and the scientific method have made these more distinct pursuits, but these earlier philosophers did not have the benefit of today's scientific knowledge. Here are a few of these historic works of thought.

We start with item #1, an important Dutch work concerning witches: Nodige bedenkingen Op de niewe beweegingen... by Balthasar Bekker. In it, he argues against beliefs in the existence of witches and other spirits. This may not sound controversial now, but it did at the time. There were many people who believed that denying the existence of the Devil and evil spirits amounted to denying the existence of God and the validity of religion. This work is a response to an attack on his book of a year earlier. Bekker maintained that outside of the human soul, there was no interaction between the physical and spiritual world. Therefore, we could not be visited by unearthly apparitions, including those who invaded human bodies. This applied to evil as well as angelic spirits. This view was considered heretical by many, but it has been said that Bekker almost single-handedly put a stop to the support for witch trials in northern Europe. Indeed, the timing of this book - 1692 - will be familiar to Americans who have studied the Salem witch trials. Priced at £650 (British pounds, or approximately $1,072 in U.S. currency).

The antagonism Bekker caused can be seen in item 2: Ondersoek en antwoord Van Balthasar Bekker... This is a 1693 account of the church proceedings against Bekkar, along with his replies. Fortunately, while witches might still be burned at the stake at this time, such punishments were no longer routinely handed out to those with controversial religious views, so not much came out of this. £600 (US $990).

Speaking of witchcraft and the supernatural, Joseph Glanvill is a most interesting fellow. Glanvill was a 17th century English clergyman and philosopher. He was one of the foremost proponents of scientific observation and religious tolerance. His attitudes on these subjects made him a target of those with conservative religious views. However, Glanvill was also a believer in witches and other such apparitional beings. He was among those who believed the Bible pointed to their existence, so to disbelieve that such spirits were interacting with the physical world would amount to disbelieving religion itself. One wonders how Glanvill would have reacted to the excesses of Salem, but he died in 1680, before the worst consequences of belief in witchcraft began to play out. Item 14 is his Essays on Several Important Subjects in Philosophy and Religion, published in 1676. £1,250 (US $2,062).

Most with an interest in philosophy would know what Immanuel Kant wrote, but how many know what he read? Item 29 is Immanuel Kants Bucher. This is an account of what was in his library by Arthur Warda, published in 1922. On his death in 1804, Kant left his books to his mathematician friend Johann Genischen. Genischen died just three years later and in 1808 his library was put up for auction. Warda's book covers the 377 lots from that auction that originated in Kant's collection. £100 (US $165).

John Stuart Mill was a strong believer in personal liberty, so long as it did not result in harm to others, and supported many liberal causes of his day, including women's suffrage. However, one such liberal idea, that he once supported but changed his opinion upon, was the secret ballot. Most liberal thinkers argued for it, believing voters would not vote their conscience out of fear of retribution from those in power. Mill's concern was that they would vote for their uglier personal interests, rather than the ideals they espoused, if allowed the secret ballot. Public voting would force people to vote their ideals. Item 39 is a letter expressing these views he wrote to the Editor of the Birmingham Post on July 29, 1868. £1,200 (US $1,979).

Rudi Thoemmes Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)117 902 8546. Their website is found at www.rrbltd.com.

You will find many of Rudi Thoemmes' books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

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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