Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2009 Issue

More "Books About Books" from Oak Knoll

The latest from Oak Knoll Books.


By Michael Stillman

Oak Knoll Books has issued a new catalogue of "books about books" and bibliographies. This is Catalogue 291 of a series that began several decades ago. Oak Knoll specializes in books about the book trade or the various arts involved in producing books, such as binding, papermaking, illustration, and typefaces. You will also find many books from fine private presses. Additionally, you will see some very special books that may not quite fit the category of "books about books" as well. We'll take a look inside and describe a few of the books Oak Knoll has for us this time.

Here is a catalogue with two connections to the book-collecting world. Item 155 is an 1873 catalogue for Hoe & Co., Manufacturers of Type-Revolving, Perfecting, Single and Double Cylinder and Adams' Printing Machines... Hoe & Co. was formed in 1823 by Robert Hoe, who introduced steam presses to America. However, it was his son, Richard Hoe, who greatly advanced the process with his cylinder and rotary presses, which were much faster than the old flat sheet presses. Richard was in charge of the firm at the time of this catalogue, and the family was already very wealthy. Eventually, leadership would go to his nephew, Robert Hoe III, and this Robert would also become America's greatest bibliophile of the era. When his collection was auctioned in 1911, two years after his death, it was far and away the largest (in terms of value) American book auction in history. This rare catalogue of printing equipment is priced at $2,250.

Item 227 is an incunable work by a most surprising man, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini: Epistolae Familiares, published in 1478. Aeneas was born in Siena in 1405 of a very large family. Aeneas was a roguish young man in his youth. He reportedly fathered two illegitimate children but nonetheless, after some time as a teacher, became a functionary of the Church. Still, his risqué ways continued with the writing of an erotic story, The Tale of Two Lovers, in 1444 (it would become very popular some years later thanks to the invention of printing). Who would have thought that such a man would be named Pope just 14 years later? Times were different then. Aeneas, who became Pope Pius II in 1458, managed to adjust himself to the times, and was a consummate diplomat. However, his evolution over the years was more than a cynical ploy for power. As his responsibilities grew, he grew into his roles, and he is remembered as a good pope, though his attempts to suppress his earlier books were unsuccessful. Item 227 is a copy of his respectable title Epistolae Familiares. $12,000.

Not everyone is a fan of book collecting. Item 42 is an 1892 Grolier Club translation of the Louis Bollioud-Mermet critique, Crazy Book-Collecting, or Bibliomania, Showing the Great Folly of Collecting Rare and Curious Books... Mermet was himself once a collector, but evidently became disenchanted as a result of skyrocketing prices of many older books. Mermet's belief was the books should be cherished for their content, the learning within, not for their rarity, age, or attractiveness. These were the factors that were driving up prices. Writes Mermet, "...to possess collections of books with neither the capacity nor the will to read and to study, is a strange Mania, a blind obsession. To heap up volumes without a use for them...is an absurd vanity, an idle extravagance." In its introduction, the Grolier Club notes, "Book-lovers...will not be influenced by anything Bollioud-Mermet wrote in the eighteenth...century." $125.

Here is another man with a grievance. Herman Hooker was not happy with churches publishing books, evidently because he thought it unseemly that they engage in such business, and because they competed with the book trade. Mr. Hooker expressed his view in 1849 in An Appeal to the Christian Public on the Evil and Impolicy of the Church Engaging in Merchandise; and Setting Forth the Wrong Done to Booksellers, and the Extravagance, Inutility, and Evil-Working, of Charity Publication Societies. Rather than publishing books and selling them below cost, he felt churches should use their money for more important activities. As best we can tell, Hooker's influence proved to be nil. Item 157. $325.

Oak Knoll Books may be reached at 302-328-7232 or orders@oakknoll.com. Their website is www.oakknoll.com.

You will find many of Oak Knoll's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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