Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2009 Issue

Inscribed Books from James Cummins Bookseller

Cummins102

Dodgson/Carroll inscription on cover of James Cummins' latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

James Cummins, Bookseller has issued a catalogue entitled From the Author. At first glance, that might seem obvious. All books come from an author. However, what we have here are books that have been inscribed. Perhaps the title isn't precisely correct, as while all are inscribed, they aren't necessarily inscribed by the book's author. That became obvious very quickly when in the letter "A" we found a book by Aristotle. Good luck finding a book inscribed by Aristotle, especially a printed one. Nevertheless, while they aren't necessarily inscribed by the author, they are inscribed by some interesting person or other, frequently adding a significant connection to the underlying text. Here are a few of these inscribed works.

Item 108 is generally regarded as W. Somerset Maugham's greatest novel, an opinion to which he acquiesced. It is Of Human Bondage, generally considered to be largely autobiographical. To this Maugham also acquiesced, but perhaps only to a more limited degree. In his inscription to James Spencer, Maugham writes, "This by way of being an autobiographical novel, but it IS a novel & fiction has as great a place in it as fact." This is a first English edition, published in 1915. Priced at $3,500.

Item 48 is an inscribed copy of Through the Looking Glass by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his penname Lewis Carroll. It is inscribed to Margaret Lilias Godfrey Faussett for Christmas of 1871. Faussett could be described as one of Dodgson's numerous "child friends," though she was also the daughter of a close friend and associate from his role as a mathematics professor, Robert Godfrey Faussett. Ms. Faussett would later write that she met Dodgson prior to the book being published, but that he had promised to send her a copy once it was printed. This is proof he kept his word. This letter is displayed on the catalogue's cover (click the thumbnail image above to view). $15,000.

Item 141 is a Shakespearean play, not inscribed by Shakespeare, but by the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day: The Merchant of Venice, as Performed at the Winter Garden Theater of New York, January 1867, by Edwin Booth. Booth was a great actor with a magnificent career, but his accomplishments have been sadly overshadowed by the destructive behavior of his actor brother John Wilkes, who assassinated President Lincoln. Edwin had to leave the stage for several months after his brother's misdeed, so badly was the "Booth" name tarnished. Booth inscribed this book on July 2, 1867, to Charles Tuckerman, a writer, poet and diplomat who served as U.S. minister to Greece during the Johnson and Grant administrations and later wrote about that country. $750.

Item 3 is The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony including Public Addresses, Her Own Letters and many from her contemporaries during Fifty Years, by Ida Harper. Rather than being signed by the author, it is inscribed by the subject herself, Susan B. Anthony. This is a two-volume authorized biography, and Ms. Anthony has inscribed both books to Charlotte A. Thomas, a suffragette from Maine. $6,500.

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    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
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    <b>Swann:</b> Gideon Welles, <i>Extensive archive of personal and family papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy,</i> 1791-1914. Sold September 29 — $281,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Rock Climbers,</i> cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> watercolor, ink and gouache, 1954. Sold December 15 — $37,500.
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    <b>Swann:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32),</i> silver print, 1936. Sold October 20 — $305,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> George Washington, Autograph Document Signed, with two manuscript plat maps in holograph, 1751. Sold October 27 — $37,500.
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    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Vertigo (1958), poster, US. The ultimate poster on this classic Hitchcock title, one of three known examples. £40,000 to £60,000.
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    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Bullitt (1968), special test poster, US. £3,000 to £5,000.
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    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 158. Matching satirical maps of the US by McCandlish: "Ration Map" & "Bootlegger's Map" (1944). $3,000 to $4,000.
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  • <center><b>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>including Americana<br>February 16, 2023</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. CHAUCER, Geoffrey. <i>The Works…now newly imprinted.</i> Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. $100,000 to $125,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [EINSTEIN, Albert (1879–1955)]. –– ORLIK, Emil (1870–1932), artist. Lithograph signed (“Albert Einstein”). N.p., 1928. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel. <i>[The Lord of the Rings trilogy:] The Fellowship of the Ring.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Two Towers.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Return of the King.</i> 1955. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain") and Charles Dudley WARNER. <i>The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.</i> Hartford and Chicago, 1873. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> LOVECRAFT, Howard Phillips. <i>Beyond the Wall of Sleep.</i> Collected by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1943. $2,000 to $3,000.

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