Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2017 Issue

A New Catalogue of the Very Old from Samuel Gedge Ltd.

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Catalogue XXIII.

Samuel Gedge Ltd. has issued their Catalogue XXIII. The use of Roman numerals is appropriate as the material in here is old. Most items fall in the 18th to early 19th century, with a few on either side. There are books and numerous types of ephemera, from printed broadsides and sheets to manuscript letters, notebooks, account books and the like. A few even move beyond paper, such as an abolitionist medal and a dental mirror from 1804. The sights that mirror must have seen were frightening, considering the state of tooth care in those days. Here are few of those less scary items found in this latest Gedge catalogue.

 

We begin with the oldest book in the catalogue, one which tells an even older story, albeit one likely made up. Item 9 is the Itinerarius Joannis de Hese presbyteri a Hierusalem... published in 1504. It is an account of the travels of Johannes Witte de Hese, a Dutch priest who supposedly made a journey to the Holy Land and Asia around 1389. This is an early printed account of what had been a passed around manuscript story, first reaching print about 1490. Hese is something of a Dutch John Mandeville, an early traveler who most likely never existed. If he did, certainly his tale is a tall one. He supposedly went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but then continued traveling, to Egypt, India, and Ethiopia. He even visited Prester John's empire and saw its magnificent castle, which makes the story quite dubious. This wished for Christian leader from some far off land, who would help the Crusaders recapture the Holy Land, was never found. Hese also talks of visits to places with unicorns, pygmies, and a whale as big as an island (or as big as this tale). This is a short book, but provides a lot of information, or imagination. Priced at £9,500 (British pounds, or approximately $12,083 U.S. dollars).

 

Hanworth Hall is one of those magnificent English country estates, this one located in Norfolk. It goes back to the 16th century, and for three centuries it was home to the Doughty family. Naturally, they had a staff to manage the place, but Anne Doughty, wife of Robert Doughty, kept a record of purchases for the kitchen. This record covers about twenty years, from 1767-1787. Robert inherited the estate when his father died in 1770. Among the delicacies Anne ordered were lobsters, flounders, oysters, tripe, shrimp, turnips, black pepper, a cod, an eel, and anchovies. She must have made some terrific pizzas. But that was not all. There were 3 pigeons, a couple of wild ducks, a goose, sweet breads, six young geese, a lamb's head, and calves feet. They ate well, even if I would not have wanted to be invited for dinner. Item 74. £2,250 (US $2,867).

 

The next item is a letter from a leader who lived 300 years ago, yet still holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Sultan Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif inherited the Moroccan throne in 1672 and ruled for the next 55 years. He was known as the "Warrior King," a well-deserved epithet. He battled the Ottomans and the Spanish, achieving independence for his country. He also waged a long-running battle with his nephew for power, which he eventually won. While effective, Moulay Ismael was also brutal and unmerciful. He used tens of thousands of slaves, often Europeans captured by pirates, to build his cities. He is said to have slaughtered tens of thousands, such as slaves who he didn't think worked hard enough. Despite this, he could also be quite diplomatic. He had a long lasting friendship with France and its King Louis XIV, who ruled even longer and mostly overlapped Sultan Ismail's reign. He also achieved peace with England, which is the concern of this letter. Here he writes English Ambassador Charles Stewart in December 1720. It is a friendly note about how the Sultan hopes an agreement will be reached, that he will not oppose it, and cites friendly relations between the countries going back over a century to the time of Queen Elizabeth. As for his place in the Guinness Book of Records, Moulay Ismail is noted for fathering more children than anyone else on record. The French Ambassador claimed he had well over 1,000, but Guinness credits him with a more modest 888. He had four wives, but supposedly 500 concubines. When he died, there was a battle for succession among his sons. No wonder! Item 12. £9,500 ($12,083).

 

One sin that never goes out of style is gambling. A favorite version of this sin is the wheel game, a version of the vice going back over two centuries. It is best known today in the form of the roulette wheel. It was first played around the turn of the 19th century, but there were precursors, such as EO. "E" stands for even, "O" for odd. Those signify even and odd numbers on which the gamblers could bet. Item 59 is a Georgian print, circa 1780, of a London club room where guests participated in this game of chance. Seven men sit or stand around the EO table while an eighth off to the side sips a glass of wine. A rhyme beneath the image suggests the folly of the game. It notes that men of every station go to the EO tables, "with plans and schemes so deep they're sure to win / But alas their plans and schemes prove all a whim." £1,250 (US $1,592).

 

There is a bit more satire in this biting broadside. The large caption beneath the illustration reads, Dabbling in the Funds, or the City Gold Finders. It satirizes investments in "bubbles" that were raging at the time (circa 1825). The image shows a group of well-dressed men falling off a cliff into a large body of water as they reach out to a not-quite reachable devilish figure. In its hand, the demon holds papers headed "Bog & Bubble Cos." The verse describes such bubbles, noting that of all the mining bubbles, gold mines are preferred. Item 21. £450 (US $573).

 

Samuel Gedge Ltd. Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0)1263 768 471 or rarebooks@samuelgedge.com. Their website is www.samuelgedge.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Copper Printing Plate for "Marshall's Household Engraving of Washington." $500 to $1000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Important Documentary Painting Showing Baseball Great Ty Cobb in Cuba. $1,000 to $2,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> <i>Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age</i>, Inscribed by Bill Wilson. $500 to $1,000
    <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), <i>Prise à l'hameçon.</i> $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Maurice Dufrène (French, 1876-1955), <i>Rayon des Soieries</i>. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> William Pope.L (American, b. 1955), <i>Intimacy Project</i>. $2,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.

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