Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

A Catalogue of Catalogues from Frits Knuf Antiquarian Books

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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).

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  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 28:</b> Pancho Villa, passport for a news correspondent covering the Mexican revolution, signed, 1914. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 28:</b> Nirvana’s <i>Nevermind,</i> CD insert signed & inscribed days after release by Cobain, inscribed by Novoselic, 1991. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 28:</b> Robert Indiana, <i>The Book of Love,</i> complete portfolio, artist’s proof set, 1997. $100,000 to $125,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 28:</b> Marcel Vertés, Colette, <i>Chéri,</i> two volumes, deluxe edition, signed by the artist, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 28:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>Orlando,</i> first trade edition, first impression, London, 1928. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 28:</b> Mark Twain, receipt for payment of the Mark Twain Public Library Tax, 1908. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 28:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk von Gustav Klimt,</i> portfolio, collotype plates, 1918. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A third selection of 16th and 17th<br>Century English Books from<br>the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>Thursday 21st October 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Hawking & Hunting.- Turberville (George). <i>The Booke of Falconrie or Hawking,</i> second edition, Printed by Thomas Purfoot, 1611. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> George Steevens' copy.- Coryate (Thomas). <i>Coryats Crudities Hastily gobbled up in five Moneths travells in France, Savoy, Italy, Rhetia...,</i> first edition, complete copy, Printed by W. S[tansby], 1611. £4,000 to £6,00
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Butler (Charles). <i>The Feminine Monarchie: or The Historie of Bees,</i> second edition, Printed by John Haviland for Roger Jackson, 1623. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A third selection of 16th and 17th<br>Century English Books from<br>the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>Thursday 21st October 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Brathwait (Richard). <i>The English Gentlewoman, drawne out to the full Body: expressing, What Habilliments doe best attire her…,</i> Printed by B. Alsop and T. Fawcet, for Michaell Sparke, 1631. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Glapthorne (Henry). <i>The Ladies Priviledge,</i> first edition, Imprinted...by J. Okes, for Francis Constable, 1640. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Witchcraft.- F. (H.) <i>A true and exact Relation Of the severall Informations, Examinations, and Confessions of the late Witches, arraigned and executed in the County of Essex,</i> first edition, 1645. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A third selection of 16th and 17th<br>Century English Books from<br>the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>Thursday 21st October 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Hobbes (Thomas). <i>De Corpore Politico. Or the Elements of Law, Moral & Politick,</i> first edition, 1650. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Early steam engine.- Worcester (Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquis). <i>A Century of the Names and Scantlings of such Inventions…,</i> first edition, 1663. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Cookery.- M[ontagu] (W[alter]). <i>The Queens Closet Opened. Incomparable secrets in physick, chirurgery, preserving and candying, &c,</i> 3 parts in 1 vol., 1674. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A third selection of 16th and 17th<br>Century English Books from<br>the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>Thursday 21st October 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Speed (John). <i>An Epitome of Mr. John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain,</i> 2 parts in 1, 90 engraved maps, Printed for Tho. Basset, and Ric. Chiswel, 1676. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Le Boe (Franciscus). <i>Of Childrens Diseases... also a Treatise of the Rickets,</i> first edition, Printed for George Downs, 1682. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Oct. 21:</b> Economics.- Locke (John). <i>Several Papers Relating to Money, Interest and Trade,</i> first collected edition, Printed for A. and J. Churchill, 1696. £2,000 to £3,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>26th-29th of October 2021</b>
    <b>Gonnelli Auction 31, Oct. 28th- 29th:</b><br>Books from XV to XX Century
    <b>Gonnelli Auction 31, Oct. 28th:</b><br>Manuscripts and autographs
    <b>Gonnelli Auction 31, Oct. 28th:</b><br>Artist books
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    <b>Gonnelli Auction 31, Oct. 28th:</b><br>Magazines
    <b>Gonnelli Auction 31, Oct. 28th- 29th:</b><br>Books from XV to XX Century

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