Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2017 Issue

A New York Fair Catalogue from Parisian Bookseller Librairie Camille Sourget

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Books for a fair from Camille Sourget.

Librairie Camille Sourget prepared a catalogue for their participation in the recent New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Camille Sourget is based in Paris, so many of the books are written in French, though numerous texts are in English and other languages as well. The catalogue, appropriate for New York, is written in English. According to their website, Sourget specializes in travel books, original literary editions, science, history, manuscripts and fine illustrated books. Times range from the 15th to the 20th century. In this particular catalogue, the range is 1498-1947. Here are a few samples from this selection.

 

We begin with that 1498 incunable, and it is not a book written in French. It is in Greek, as the author intended. The physical book may be a mere 500 years old, but the story comes from almost two millennia earlier. The title is Comoediae novem, its author Aristophenes. Aristophenes lived in Athens during the third and fourth centuries B.C. Some consider him the "father of comedy" because, after all, how many people were writing comedies prior to 400 B.C.? The Pharaohs weren't known for telling jokes on their cuneiform tablets. Aristophanes was a playwright, and his comedies were often biting satires aimed at the leading figures of ancient Athens. This is the first printed edition of Aristophanes comedies, 9 of the 11 still extant (he wrote many more now lost). The printer was one of the best known of that early era – Aldus Manutius of Venice. Aldus published several ancient Greek texts in their original language, obviously targeted to the highest intelligentsia of the Renaissance. Item 1. Priced at $48,000.

 

Next we have a medical text which is quite outdated. Do not consult it if you are ill. Item 9 is Discorsi sopra il mondo di Sanguinare... a 1586 second edition of Pietro Paolo Magni of Piacentino's book on bloodletting. Magni not only describes the process, but graces us with 11 full-page engravings, nine displaying the process of drawing blood in detail. It is a how-to guide. Magni shows the various parts of the human body from which to let blood and patients in proper positions for the procedure. Physician, barber-surgeon, and family members are displayed in their proper positions. In those days, the physician provided instructions, but the barber-surgeon did the actual cutting. The combining of the professions of barber and surgeon seems odd to us today, but for centuries that was the norm. In the days when medical knowledge was very limited at best, it was believed illness was the result of an imbalance in bodily fluids which required a reduction in the amount of blood. Though it obviously did not work, the practice continued into the 19th century. $9,500.

 

Here is a book that came out a bit too late to serve its purpose: Le Sacre de S. M. L'Empereur Napoleon Dans L'Eglise Metropolitaine de Paris. That translates to the coronation of the Emperor Napoleon in the metropolitan church of Paris. The metropolitan church of Paris is Notre Dame. This is an exquisite representation of Napoleon's big day, December 2, 1804. It contains 39 beautiful plates of the celebration. Napoleon made sure that the ceremony contained all the pomp and circumstance befitting a man of his stature. Unfortunately, it took a long time to produce this remembrance. It was not published until ten years later. Sadly for Napoleon, that was when he fell. Napoleon met his Waterloo in 1815. The result was most copies of this tribute were seized before the book was officially released. However, a small number were given to artists and a few other people so some copies do survive. Item 41. $10,000.

 

This is my favorite work of French literature. Admittedly, there is a lot more French literature I have not read than that I have, so perhaps I am not in a position to choose the best, but this one is right up there – Candide ou L'optimisme. This is the true first edition of Voltaire's short, but nevertheless magnum opus. Poor Candide suffers all sorts of horrible tragedies, all the while maintaining his rosy, optimistic outlook, at least until the end when he determines he needs to just tend to his garden and not think too much about deep philosophical concepts. The book was a satire on Leibniz's philosophy that this is the best of all possible worlds. Voltaire mocks that concept with all the tragedies that befell his protagonist. However, Voltaire also ridiculed church, state, and various other institutions along the way, resulting in it being banned in its day (the book was published in 1759). Item 30. $22,000.

 

Here is a rare, not that well known very early look at the Great Lakes region of North America. The author is Father Gabriel Sagard-Theodat, a Recollet missionary, the book Le grand voyage au pays des Hurons, published in 1632. He had wanted to go on their first mission to Canada in 1615, but permission was denied. In 1623, he was allowed to go. The trip across the Atlantic took three months and Sagard describes it thoroughly. He landed in Quebec, and then joined up with a fur trading party heading for Huron country. When the trading was done, the traders headed back, but Sagard preceded farther inland with the Huron Indians. Somewhat later, he was joined by two other missionaries and they built a small convent, from which they ministered to the Indians' spiritual and other needs. Evidently, Sagard was well-liked. The following spring, he traveled back to Quebec with some traders to obtain supplies for the mission. However, when he arrived, he learned he had been called back to France. His brief time in New France was over. He never returned. In his book, Sagard describes his journey, both to and from Huron country, overseas and overland. He then goes into providing details about the Hurons and their culture, as well as information about the natural history of the area. Sagard has received criticism for being naive, accepting everything he was told uncritically as the truth. Descriptions of episodes people allegedly had with demons is an example, but considering that half a century later our forefathers were still killing witches in Salem, we need to understand the beliefs of the times in which he lived. This book also contains Sagard's Dictionnaire de la langue Huronne, not so much a true dictionary as a collection of Huron words to give future missionaries a head start with the language. He wrote two more books, but later dropped out of the Recollets, and what happened to him after 1636 is unknown. Item 13. $62,000.

 

Librairie Camille Sourget may be reached at +33 6 13 04 40 72 or contact@camillesourget.com. Their website is found at www.camillesourget.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

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