Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2017 Issue

A Miscellany of Unusual Material from The Brick Row Book Shop

3a76c617-7348-470f-8416-001c05699373

A miscellany.

The Brick Row Book Shop has issued Miscellany Seventy-Three: Recent Acquisitions for Winter 2017. What can you say about a miscellany that isn't already expressed in that one word? We can add one thing here. This is not a miscellany of common items, the well-known books, the famous authors. There is much that is obscure, undoubtedly quite rare. This catalogue is more a treasure hunt than simply a description of treasures. You will discover new and often fascinating material here. Something old is something new. Here are a few samples

 

We start with a 19th century gift book, and an unusual one at that. The artwork it features consists of images of snowflakes. The title is Cloud Crystals: A Snow Flake Album. Collected and Edited by a Lady. Snowflake collections don't last long, so the "Lady," Mrs. Frances Chickering of Maine, had to quickly create her own images before they melted. Over the course of Maine's long winters, Mrs. Chickering noticed the different shapes when they fell on her windowsill. To preserve their likenesses, she did what generations of children have been doing since. She allowed them to fall on a dark cloth and then placed a strong magnifying lens over them. She would then pull out a piece of folded white paper and scissors, and cut the flake's shape from memory. Finally, she would use the cut pattern to stencil the snowflake images. In her book, they are displayed on a dark background so as to stand out. There are 26 plates, each plate with several snowflakes. Along with Mrs. Chickering's images, there are various poems and prose writings pertaining to snow and snowflakes by notable writers within the album. Item 20. Priced at $375.

 

Next up we have a pair of unique, rather amazing books of art and poetry. However, these are not printed books, but two manuscript notebooks of original poetry by Joseph Ely of Bristol. So little is known of Mr. Ely that while it was generally believed he came from Bristol, Connecticut, the New York Public Library (which has some of his work) noted that the "Bally & Co., Bath" on the paper makes it more likely he was from Bristol, England. As intricate as his work was, Mr. Ely was still quite prolific. These two notebooks, dated 1816 and 1819, contain 11 and 13 leaves. On them, Mr. Ely has written original poems on various subjects, apparently less than memorable. However, he has employed his calligraphic talents in lettering the poems. What is even more impressive is each is contained within an intricate, ornate and unique circular frame, hand drawn in brown with pen and ink. It must have required some serious work, and yet a "Poetical Preface to the Reader" to the 1816 volume says he had written 229 compositions within 591 borders, contained in 23 books. He must have had the skill to do these with greater speed than seems imaginable to me. Those contained in libraries range from 1817-1823, so presumably those earlier ones he mentions here were lost. It seems he must have done this for his own amusement, or perhaps to give to friends, though none of the volumes known contains a presentation inscription. Item 28. $2,500.

 

William Prynne was a man of controversial opinions, intolerance of differing views, and a willingness to take whatever punishment his behavior incurred and come back for more. He was constantly writing attacks on others, either about specific individuals or types of people in general. His words were rarely kind. Prynne was a Puritan in early 17th century England, a pamphleteer and politician. Item 61 is one of those works: The Unlovelinesse, of Love-Lockes. Or, A Summarie Discourse, Prooving: The Wearing, and Nourishing of a Locke, or Love-Locke, to be Altogether Unseemely, and Unlawfull unto Christians, published in 1628. It is an attack on the then current fashion of men having one longer lock of hair, which he condemned as unnatural, odious, sinful, effeminate, unmanly, womanish, abominable, Satanic, and such. Prynne did not mince words. He also condemns women who wear their hair short for being mannish, unnatural, impudent and unchristian. However, he also condemns them if their hair is too long, or they wear make-up, and for their "inordinate affection of corporall beautie." Prynne wrote other such diatribes, and is particularly noted for one against the theater just as the Queen was sponsoring a play. It got him one of multiple life sentences in prison (he always got out in a few years) and his ears cropped off (the stubs were later removed after another such verdict). He regained influence during the revolution, but attacks against Cromwell had him back in prison again. He finally managed to stay out of trouble and regain some measure of respectability during the Restoration. Item 61. $1,500.

 

Here is another man of great principles, willing to put his reputation on the line for them, who also wrote a scathing attack, this one targeted at a specific individual. It was not good for one's popularity in America for that the person be, of all people, George Washington. Thomas Paine always spoke (or wrote) his mind. Paine was an American hero in 1776, his call for independence and freedom a rallying cry for the colonies. He returned to his native England after the Revolution, his advocacy for democratic causes, and support of the French Revolution, making him persona non grata there. He moved to France. Paine was elected to the National Assembly, but then the French Revolution turned bloody, he was imprisoned, and like so many others, would have had his head separated from his body save for a lucky miscommunication when he was supposed to be taken away. He managed to survive a little longer until Robespierre was overthrown and he was freed. Paine emerged from prison holding a grudge against some Americans for not making a greater effort to free him. One whom he believed conspired with Robespierre to imprison him was George Washington. Paine sent him a scathing letter, and when Washington failed to respond, he had the letter published. Item 54 is a copy of that Letter to George Washington, President of the United States of America, published in 1796. Like Prynne, Paine did not mince words, calling Washington a fraud, incompetent general, elitist, lacking in gratitude and humanity, and similar niceties. When he wore out his welcome in France and returned to America a few years later, his support of the French Revolution and attack on Washington made him a pariah in the land that once adored him. He did nothing to reestablish his good graces by following up with an attack on religion. Writing about his death in 1809, and a funeral attended by all of six people, Robert G. Ingersoll remarked, "Even those who loved their enemies hated him." $1,500.

 

Here is an item of obscure poetry: The Overland Route to California, and Other Poems, by John Ward. Had this been written a decade earlier, it would have represented the product of a difficult and dangerous Oregon Trail journey. However, it was published in 1874. Ward took the train. Still, what little I can find of him displays he was a brave man, serving nobly in the Civil War with a New York regiment. He had degrees as both a lawyer and medical doctor, but I have not ascertained which, if either, of these he used to earn a living. Along with the title poem, there are twenty others covering various subjects. Item 14. $200.

 

The Brick Row Book Shop may be reached at 415-398-0414 or books@brickrow.com. Their website is www.brickrow.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions