• <center><b>Chiswick Auctions</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Rumphius (Georgius Everhardus). <i>D’Ambionsche Rariteitkamer,</i> FIRST EDITION, 61 handcoloured engraved plates, 1705. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Collodi (Carlo) Le avventure di Pinocchio. <i>Storia di un burattino,</i> FIRST EDITION, frontispiece and 61 illustrations by Enrico Mazzanti, 1883. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> De Bry (T, J T & J I). <i>[Great Voyages, part IV] Americae sive Insignis & Admiranda Historia de Reperta primum Occidentali India,</i> FIRST EDITION, 23 engraved plates, 1594. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Wine & Beer.-Kellermaysterey. <i>Gründtlicher bericht wie man alle wein Teütscher und Welscher landen vor allen zufallen bewaren...,</i> 16 leaves of manuscript notes, 1548. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Table Globe'- Doppelmayr (J G) & Puschner (J G, engraver). An 8-inch German terrestrial table Globe, diameter c.200 mm, height c.300 mm, 1730. £6,000 to £8,000
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions</b
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> An album with 107 original watercolours featuring landscapes and views of various places in England, Scotland and Ireland, late 1840s. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). Black and white, landscape photograph of man on horseback, signed and inscribed by Hemingway. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Unrecorded autograph letter by Charles William Stewart to his father the Marquess of Londonerry, describing the ceremony of the presentation to Consul Bonaparte in January 1803. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Davis (William Heath). <i>Seventy-five Years in California,</i> Author's Section of the Argonaut Edition, no. 142 [of 250 copies] signed by the editor and publisher on limitation leaf. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Prussian Royal Family. Six signed photographs of members of Prussian Royal Family, in a contemporary folding triptych, ebonised wood display case. £1,500 to £2,000
  • <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> <i>Le Neptune François, ou Atlas Nouveau des Cartes Marines. Levées et Gravées par ordre exprès du Roy...</i> Paris: Hubert Jaillot, 1693 [but Amsterdam: Pieter Mortier, 1693-1700].
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> BLAEU, Willem Janszoon. <i>Le Flambeau de la Navigation monstrant la description & delineation de toutes les Costes & Havres…</i> Amsterdam: Jan Jansson, 1620.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> [WALDSEEMÜLLER, Martin.] <i>Orbis Typus Universalis Iuxta Hydrographorum Traditionem.</i> [Strasbourg: 1513].
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> KEULEN, Johannes van. <i>De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerderde Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Werelt.</i> Amsterdam: Johannes van Keulen, 1688.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> DONCKER, Hendrick. <i>De Zee-Atlas of Water-Waerelt.</i> Amsterdam: Hendrick Doncker, 1666.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> GARNIER, Francis and Ernest DOUDART DE LAGRÉE. <i>Voyage d'exploration en Indo-Chine effectué pendant les années 1866, 1867 et 1868 par une Commission Française.</i> Paris: Hachette, 1873 [-1875].
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Very Fine. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Neill, John R. Pen-and-ink drawing from Oz, "He raised his gun, took aim and fired," $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>June 13 - New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $7,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. $1,500 to $2,500
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br><i>Breviarium Romanum,</i> before 1478. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>C. Ptolemaeus, <i>Geographie,</i> 1513.<br>Est: € 140,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Daphnis & Chloé,</i> 1961.<br>Est: € 130,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1499. Est: € 20,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>J. H. van Linschoten, <i>Itinerarium,</i> 1644. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Cirque,</i> 1967.<br>Est: € 120,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>G. L. L. Buffon, <i>Histoire naturelle des oiseaux,</i> 1765-83. Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>K. Marx, <i>Das Kapital,</i> 1867.<br>Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>P. J. Redouté, <i>Les liliacées,</i> 1802-16.<br>Est: € 120,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. E. Bloch, <i>Naturgeschichte der Fische,</i> 1782-95. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>H. A. Châtelain, <i>Atlas historique,</i> 1718-20. Est: € 18,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>Bauhausbücher, complete series, 1925-30. Est: € 28,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2018 Issue

Arsenic and Old Books

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Pretty poison.

Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark's library made a startling discovery recently about three of their 16th and 17th century books. Their covers are filled with poison. To be exact, they contain serious concentrations of arsenic. The bindings are probably more recent, likely the 19th century. Still, there are no murderous motives here, no makings of an Agatha Christie mystery. Arsenic was regularly used for a variety of purposes in those days.

 

The discovery came innocently enough. Bookbinders in past times often used paper or velum from even older books and manuscripts in their bindings. Those older books were just trash then, but today, it is often the case that the books they bound are of less interest than the older material used in the bindings. They may hold lost or unique writings that fill gaps in human knowledge. Still, the libraries or other owners who hold these books don't necessarily want them torn apart. The answer is to use modern, x-ray technologies that enable researchers to look through the covers and read the ink on the pages used in those bindings.

 

In the case of the books at the University of Southern Denmark, researchers discovered there was old parchment used in the bindings. Unfortunately, the x-rays were having a hard time reaching the elements used in writing the letters. There was a wall of green paint in the way. The x-rays revealed that the green paint was made from arsenic. It is most likely what is known as "Paris green" or "emerald green,"a substance that was used both as paint and poison. That was an unfortunate combination as it led to the use of a poisonous substance on items regularly handled by humans.

 

Among its uses as paint, Paris green was commonly used in wallpaper in the 19th century. People didn't realize its dangers. Even as they became aware of its toxic qualities, the belief remained that as long as you didn't lick your wallpaper, you would be all right. Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. Notably in England where the pigment was commonly used and damp weather is abundant, mold can grow on the paper. It releases a toxic gas which contains the wallpaper's arsenic. Children were literally dying in their bedrooms. It is one of the reasons why people believed drier weather to be healthier. They became ill in their wallpapered homes in a damp climate, but not where dry weather prevented mold from growing.

 

Other places where the pigment was used included paintings. If you have an impressionist painting with shiny green, you should refrain from licking it. Clean with a soft, dry brush instead. Various other products regularly touched by humans, who might then put their fingers in their mouths, included items that can be worn, or toys children used for play.

 

Meanwhile, Paris green had another use. The reason it was most commonly known as Paris rather than emerald green is they used to throw it in the Paris sewers to kill the rats. People regularly kept some in their homes for that purpose. Later on, it was commonly used as an insecticide on crops. It was sprayed on apples and other fruits to prevent worms. In America, it was used to control the native Colorado potato beetle, noted for destroying potato crops. It was used in spray to kill gypsy moths invading northern forests and disease-carrying mosquitoes. It was applied to kill moths that attack tobacco plants, giving you a chance to smoke as well as eat the substance.

 

So, why was Paris green used in a bookbinding? Obviously, not for its color, since however attractive it may be, the arsenic paint was buried under the covers. Most likely, it was applied to prevent insect damage. Just as it can keep worms from boring through apples, arsenic can keep bookworms from boring through books. Now all it needs is a layer of asbestos in the covers and the books can be safe from fire damage too.

 

The Danish library will now store its poisonous books in separate boxes in a ventilated cabinet. It also plans to digitize the books so they don't have to be physically handled. Of course, the computers and monitors you use to view those digitized copies are probably laden with toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. There is no escaping the environment. You pick your poison.

 

The complete story of the discovery by Jakob Povl Holck and Kaare Lund Rasmussen of the University of Southern Denmark can be found on the website of The Conversation. 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Bouchette (Lt.-Col.Joseph, Canadian Surveyor-General of British North America). A Plan of the Province of Upper Canada, manuscript map, [c.1790-1795]. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Browne (W.H.). Ten Coloured Views taken during the Arctic Expedition of Her Majesty's Ships "Enterprise" and "Investigator", first edition, presentation copy, 1850. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Lovelace (Ada).- Lacroix (Silvestre Francois). <i>An Elementary Treatise on the Differential and Integral Calculus,</i> first edition in English, Lovelace's copy, Cambridge, 1816. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Rackham (Arthur). <i>Grimm's Fairy Tales,</i> one of 750 copies signed by the artist, 1909. One of several signed limited editions by Rackham in the sale. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Schedel (Hartmann). <i>Liber chronicarum [German] Das Buch der Croniken und Geschichten,</i> Augsburg, Johann Schonsperger, 1500. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Gandhi, Mohandas.- Eichenberg (Fritz, German-American illustrator). Autograph inscription by Ghandi with celebrated bust-length wood-engraved portrait by Eichenberg, c.1942. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Shakespeare (William). <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> 2 vol. in 1, for Bernard Lintott, [1710-11]. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Churchill (SirWinston Spencer). Midland Conservative Club. Presidential Address Delivered by Winston Spencer Churchill, Esq., June 1st, 1899, first edition, [1899]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> [Walpole (Horace)]. <i>The Castle of Otranto, a Story,</i> first Dublin edition, Dublin, 1765. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Dickens (Charles). Sketches by "Boz," Illustrative of Every-day Life, and Every-day People, [First Series] - Second Series, together 3 vol., first editions, first issues , 1836-7. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Wilde (Oscar). [Works], 14 vol., first collected edition, one of 80 sets on Japanese vellum, Methuen & Co., 1908. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Rowling (J.K.). <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first edition, first printing, 1997. £20,000 to £30,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>John Carte, <i>The Frontispiece of the Cosmographical Clock,</i> hand-colored broadside, London, circa 1699. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>John Fisk Allen & William Sharp, <i>Victoria Regia,</i> Boston, 1854. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> George Catlin, <i>North American Indian Portfolio,</i> London, 1844. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Abraham Ortelius, <i>Islandia,</i> Antwerp, 1598. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Plancius Petrus, map of Southern Africa, Amsterdam, 1592-94. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Pieter Verbiest, <i>Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica,</i> Antwerp, 1636. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>Emil B. Fischer, <i>Map of Southwestern Colorado,</i> lithograph, 1893. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>A.P. Folie, <i>Plan of the Town of Baltimore,</i> Philadelphia, 1792. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Lewis Evans, <i>A General Map of the Middle British Colonies,</i> proof copy, annotated, signed & dated by Evans, Philadelphia, 1755. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 23:</b> Lester Beall, <i>Rural Electrification Administration,</i> 1939. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Jacob Robyn, after Arent Roggeveen, <i>The First Part of the Burning Fen,</i> with English text, Amsterdam, circa 1680. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Large bird’s-eye view of New York City, hand-painted photo, circa 1933. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Arundel Society, group of approx. 185 chromolithographed Renaissance paintings, late-19th century. $6,000 to $9,000.

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