Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

A Catalogue of Catalogues from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books

Knufcatcats

A Catalogue of Catalogues from Frits Knuf.


By Michael Stillman

Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books has issued a Catalogue of Catalogues. There are all types of catalogues offered here, but nothing else - auction catalogues, bookseller catalogues, private and public library catalogues, even catalogues of forbidden books. Regardless of their original purpose, time turns all of these into unintentional bibliographies. They are a source of information about the books they list, often carrying descriptions, points of identification, history, and value. A catalogue of catalogues is essentially a book about books, which just happens to be Frits Knuf's specialty.

On the assumption that bigger is better, we will start with A Catalogue of Books, published by Henry Bohn in 1841. It was a mammoth undertaking, the largest book catalogue ever printed, at least at the time. It offered 23,208 books for sale, taking up almost 2,000 pages. It was divided into 27 headings and numerous subheadings, an obvious necessity when dealing with so many books. Bohn was a major London bookseller, publisher, and auctioneer of the 19th century, and many others, including Bernard Quaritch, learned the trade under his tutelage. This monster catalogue is now generally known as the "Guinea Catalogue," based on its original price. Item 55. Priced at €775 (euros, or approximately $1,110 in U.S. Dollars).

Edmund Curll was another major London bookseller, about a century before Bohn, but he did not carry the high reputation the latter possessed. He was, rather, a most dislikable fellow. His offenses were numerous, from publishing and selling pornography and trash, to publishing pirated versions of others' works, to selling fake medical cures in his bookshops. Curll was noted for starting controversies and then publishing both sides to sell more books. He did manage to spend some time in jail for publishing obscenities, and was the target of numerous lawsuits. His most famous battles came with the poet Alexander Pope, whose works Curll pirated and whose letters he published, including some Pope never wrote. Item 61 is one of Curll's catalogues from 1735, headed Books Printed for E. Curll, at Pope's Head In Rose-Street, Covent-Garden. A picture of "Mr. Pope" graces its cover. €1,050 (US $1,504).

So long as we are featuring the catalogues of scoundrels, item 107 is A Browning Library. A Catalogue of Printed Matter...Collected by Thomas James Wise. Published in 1929, a few years before his downfall, Wise was once a respected scholar, collector, and bibliographer. The problem was that Wise supplemented his income by producing fakes, and not just fake copies of known books, but faked copies of invented books by renown authors. So, while much of what he published was legitimate scholarship, one always has to watch out for mentions of his fakes. €350 (US $501).

Item 10 is the catalogue for an auction that never happened. It is the Catalogue des livres Du Cabinet De M. De Boze, published in Paris in 1753. The De Boze library, which included a 1462 Bible and 1457 and 1459 Psalters, was purchased en masse by two collectors who kept what they wanted and consigned the rest for sale the following year. €800 (US $1,146).

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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