Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2009 Issue

Spanish-Related Books from Paul Orssich

Orssich68

Spanish and Portuguese-related works are featured by Paul Orssich.


By Michael Stillman

We have received Catalogo 68 from Paul Orssich, the London-based seller of Spanish and Portuguese-related books. That is not to say they are all in the Spanish or Portuguese languages. There are almost as many in English, plus many others in French. However, the books relate to the Iberian Peninsula or those nations' former colonies in South and Central America. We will focus primarily on books in English because of this reviewer's linguistic limitations (most descriptions are in Spanish). Now, here are some of the books available.

We will start at the top, with item number 1: A Journey in Brazil by Professor and Mrs. Louis Agassiz. Louis is listed as author, though his wife did most of the writing. Agassiz was one of the most notable of natural scientists of the 19th century, a man more controversial today than during his lifetime. Agassiz was born in Switzerland, but moved to America in 1846. He was appointed a professor in zoology and geology at Harvard, running their zoological museum. It was to obtain specimens for this museum that he traveled to Brazil in 1865. Agassiz is also known for his work on glaciers, which led him to conclude that the earth had experienced an ice age in the recent geologic past. On the other hand, Agassiz was an opponent of Darwin's theory of evolution, and here is where the controversy arises. He believed various races of humans were created separately by God, and under his theory, certain ones were superior to others. Agassiz' race, naturally, was superior, while Africans were inferior. His views were supported by slaveholders, who sought "scientific" justification for their notorious institution. However, these racist views have made Agassiz a controversial figure today. Priced at £180 (approximately $295 in U.S. dollars).

Item 160 contains the stories of other North Americans who visited Latin America, but for very different purposes: Historia de los Filibusteros. This 1908 Costa Rican imprint by James Roche describes filibusters, those private armies that attempted to take over control of perceived weak nations. The book covers the attempts of William Walker, the most noted of all the filibusters, to seize control of Nicaragua. Walker actually succeeded for a while in 1857, before being overthrown. A second attempt three years later led to his execution in Honduras. £40 (US $65).

Here is an alliteral aid to poor people from a onetime Chaplain to the King of Spain: The Poor Man's Preservative against Popery. The Rev. Jose Maria Blanco White must have had some bad experiences in his previous role to lead him to this anti-Catholic diatribe. The Rev. White had already switched to the other side, becoming a clergyman for the Church of England, when he published this book in 1825. Item 14. £320 (US $523).

Here is an item for real niche collectors: The Postal History of the Balearic Islands. To be honest, I didn't even know where these islands were located, much less that they had a post office. They are located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the east coast of Spain, and perhaps the largest of these islands, Majorca, is more familiar than their name as a group. Item 48, by P.J. Elkins, was published in 1984. £40 (US $65).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. Sold for $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. Sold for $65,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Louise Bourgeois, <i>He Disappeared Into Complete Silence,</i> portfolio with complete text & 9 engravings, 1947. Sold for $413,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Erich Maria Remarque, <i>All Quiet on the Western Front,</i> first American edition, Boston, 1929. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, gouache & watercolor illustration for Homer's <i>Odyssey,</i> 1924. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Kurt Vonnegut, archive of 12 letters, signed to his family, 6 illustrated, 1930s-40s. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>Lady Windermere's Fan,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, London, 1893. Sold for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>St. Moritz,</i> 1918. Sold for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> R.J. Waters, 3 panoramas of the San Francisco earthquake & fire, 1906. Sold for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Album with 200 cartes-de-visite, including images by Felice Beato, John Thompson & F.W. Sutton, Japan & China, 1863-69. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. Sold for $40,000.
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

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