Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2017 Issue

A Spring Sale Catalogue from Erasmushaus

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A spring sale.

Erasmushaus has issued a Spring Sale Catalogue 2017. The subtitle is Literature. We might add that this is very old literature. You will struggle to find anything whose date begins with a number larger than 18, and most are smaller, in the 15-17 range. Not even your great-great-grandparents saw any of these books when they were new. There is a warning in this book – "Sale ends 15th of April." Act quickly. Items are priced at either 30% or 50% off. We will list the regular prices, but everything is at least 30% off. The actual catalogue, physical or electronic, will state the discount on each item. Act now before the sale ends!

 

Here is another word of caution. What we have said so far is direct quotes, untranslated. However, this is where the English ends. Descriptions are in German. The books themselves are in continental European languages, mostly German and French. This is appropriate for a Swiss bookseller, in a land squeezed between Germany and France. Appropriately, there are also a few items from the other side of the southern border – Italy. And, there is one book in English. Here are a few samples.

 

We start with Lettres sur l’Atlantide de Platon et sur l’ancienne histoire de l’Asie (letters on Plato's Atlantis and the ancient history of Asia). This 1779 book by Jean-Sylvain Bailly was addressed in particular to his friend Voltaire, though by the time of publication, the latter had died. Bailly came from an artistic family, but his interest was science. He became an astronomer, writing books about the moons of Jupiter and other topics. He was a member of various societies and at one time hosted fellow scientist Benjamin Franklin. Bailly became interested in the history of science, and this is where he went a little astray. He believed Plato's claim that Atlantis was a real place. While most believers placed the lost continent in the Atlantic Ocean, Bailly believed it was in the Arctic. His theory, of which he tried to convince Voltaire, was that earlier in Earth's existence, the Arctic was heated by internal fires in the earth. As those cooled down, Atlantis went from paradise to uninhabitable. Bailly believed the original inhabitants of Atlantis migrated south to Asia. As a footnote to Bailly's career, he became part of the democracy movement and French Revolution. He was in the National Assembly, and from 1789-1791 served as Mayor of Paris. However, his popularity waned as people saw him as being too authoritarian and not democratic enough. He resigned in 1791, but as the Revolution spun out of control and into the Reign of Terror, Bailly, like so many others, was caught in the vortex. In 1793, he was arrested, tried, and the next day guillotined. Item 15. Priced at CHF 1,200 (Swiss francs, or approximately $1,207 U.S. dollars).

 

Here is some more fictional science, though this one is intentionally so. I guess you could call it science fiction. Item 189 is Le philosophe sans pretention, ou, L'homme rare (Philosophy without pretension, or the rare man). The author of this 1775 title was Louis Guillaume de la Folie. La Folie was an industrial chemist, who made a lot of money devising better ways to dye thread. However, his curiosity and knowledge went beyond such common considerations. In his book, Ormisais, a astronaut from the planet Mercury, is forced into a crash landing on earth. He has to search the earth for the materials to repair his spacecraft. La Folie describes some technological advances, assuming such is an accurate way of describing fictional things. His spacecraft runs on electricity, being neither a winged vehicle nor balloon. It looks more like a chariot. La Folie also displays a knowledge of current scientific knowledge, so, for example, his alien from Mercury mentions that in space there is no up or down. CHF 11,800 (US $11,868).

 

Let's go with one more piece of science fiction. This one is Le voyage de l'Isabella au center de la terre, a voyage to the center of the earth, by Leon Creux, published in 1922. Gare, the protagonist, rides a cylindrical ship that is able to bore its way down to the center of the earth. What he finds is not what you would expect. There is an entirely new cosmos down there, with its own stars, constellations, and a planet called anti-earth. Creux was the inventor of a scroll compressor, which compresses air using a screw type device to press the air tighter. It turns sort of like a cylindrical ship drilling its way into the earth. The book features some fantastic illustrations by French artist Paul Coze. CHF 500 (US $503).

 

This next item comes from the category of historical fiction: A Filha do Regicida. Romance historico, by Camilo Castel Branco, published in 1875. The setting is 1640 Portugal, the planned assassination of a king, with a mix of fictional and real, or at least based on real characters. The prolific writer Branco may have been more interesting than his stories. He was born illegitimately into a family with a tendency toward mental illness. He was orphaned young, raised by relatives in a primitive region. Nevertheless, he studied medicine and later for the priesthood, but ended up being a writer. Branco engaged in numerous affairs before eloping with a married woman. He was imprisoned for adultery, which time he used to whip off a couple of novels, one about doomed love. He would marry the woman after her husband died, but eventually his health failing, and despondent over his son's insanity, killed himself. Along the way, Branco wrote 58 books, some said to be quite good, others filling publishers' orders for romantic novels to sell to readers of limited taste. I don't know where in that spectrum this particular work fits. Item 58. CHF 1,200 (US $1,207).

 

Erasmushaus may be reached at +41 61 228 99 44 or hdb@erasmushaus.ch. Their website is found at www.erasmushaus.ch.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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.

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