• <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Peter I, Tsar]. <i>Simboly i emblemata ukazom i blagopovedenii imperatora Petra Alekseevicha [Symbola et emblemata jussu atque auspiciis Petri Alexeidis].</i> Amsterdam, 1705. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Charlemagne, Adolf. Benefice d'Adieu de Madame Naptal. [St Petersburg: 16th February 1873]. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Military. Album.] [An album of drawings of weapons and their accessories, drawn from nature by the Second Cadets Corps.] St Petersburg, 1800. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Pushkin, Alexander. <i>Evgenii Onegin.</i> St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1825-1832. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Sumarokov, Pavel. <i>Dosugi krymskogo sud’i ili vtoroe puteshestvie v Tavridu. [The Leisure of a Crimean Judge or a Second Tour to Tauris].</i> St Petersburg: Imperial Press, 1803-5. £50,000 to £80,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Dr. Seuss, pen, ink & watercolor, calendar illustration, Thomas D. Murphy Company, 1937. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Sur la Terrasse,</i> gouache & pencil, cover for <i>Vogue,</i> 1930. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Dana Gibson, <i>The Coming Game, Yale vs. Vassar,</i> pen & ink, for <i>Life</i> magazine, 1895. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>H.A. Rey, color pencil, charcoal, watercolor & gouache, for <i>Rafi et les 9 singes,</i> 1939. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ernest H. Shepard, pen & ink, for Kenneth Grahame’s <i>Bertie’s Escapade,</i> 1949. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Schulz, <i>The Biggest Star Measured So Far,</i> ink & wash, original <i>Peanuts</i> cartoon, published 1961. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Saul Steinberg, <i>12 Biographies, A to B,</i> pen & ink with collage, final illustration in his book <i>The Labyrinth,</i> 1960. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Jo Mielziner, <i>A Streetcar Named Desire,</i> watercolor, graphite & gouache, first color study for the award-winning 1947 production. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Nevermore,</i> watercolor & ink, for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1973. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>I Should Worry,</i> watercolor, gouache & graphite, cover for <i>Judge</i> magazine, 1914. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Edward Gorey, <i>Swan Lake, Hunters/Siegfried, Van Rothbart,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, costume designs, 1975. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>Sketch for Madeline,</i> gouache & ink. $6,000 to $9,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Bohr (Niels). <i>On the Constitution of Atoms and Molecules,</i> first edition, presentation copy, offprint 1913. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Shakespeare's Falstaff.- Henry V & Sir John Fastolf. Indenture agreement appointing Fastolf as Keeper of the Bastille of St Anthony at Paris, manuscript in French, 1421. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> World.- Purchas (Samuel). <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Books...,</i> 5 vol., first edition, 7 folding engraved maps, contemporary calf, by William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, 1625-26. £20,000 to £30,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Book of Hours.- Use of Rouen, manuscript on vellum, in Latin and French, illuminated with 14 full-page miniatures by the workshop or follower of the Maitre de l'Echevinage, Rouen, 1480s. £20,000 t0 £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Giese (Raban, ?scholar and medical doctor). Album Amicorum of drawing on his travels and acquaintances in Europe 1618-21, 134 watercolour illustrations including c. 60 professional miniatures, 1618-39. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Jones (David). 14 Autograph Letters signed, 1952-68; and a small quantity of ephemera (sm. qty). £6,000 to £8,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Constable (John). Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery, signed presentation inscription from Constable, 1833. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). The Descent from the Cross: Second Plate, etching and engraving, 1633. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Salvin (Francis Henry) and William Brodrick. <i>Falconry in the British Isles,</i> second edition, William Brodrick's copy with 3 original watercolours by him, 1873. £8,000 to £12,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> China.- Helman (Isidore Stanislas Henri). <i>Suite des seize estampes representant les conquetes de l'Empereur de la Chine,</i> 1783-88. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Pratt (Edward Roger, 1789-1863). Album of 28 watercolours and other works on paper from a journey to ancient sites and monuments in the Mediterranean, [c.1830 and later]. £3,000 to £5,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2019 Issue

An Atheist History of Jesus Christ, Cursed are the meek...

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In 1770, the atheist Philosopher Paul Henri Thiry, baron d’Holbach (1723-1789), revisited the history of Jesus Christ in his book Histoire critique de la vie de Jésus-Christ/A Critical History Of Jesus-Christ. Casting the light of reason over the New Testament, he challenged its infallibility, trying to free mankind from the devilish hold of the Church of Rome.

 

Remember! The Earth was, according to the holy and infallible Bible, only 5,748 years old, and the multitude lived their lives according to the rules set by the priests. Should someone point out a contradiction or inconsistency in the Book, they were told that God moves in mysterious ways. “In the name of these mysteries are we told to respect religion and those who teach it,” Holbach writes in Histoire Critique de Jésus-Christ. “Consequently, we may assume that the obscurity they contain was placed there on purpose.” He was one of those French Philosophers of the 18th century who considered that the Church had kept people in ignorance to maintain its earthly power—and decided to put an end to it.

 

Voltaire spearheaded this anticlerical movement, but he did it with—humour—some sort of restraint. Underlining some obvious mistakes in the Bible (the discovery of the New World was the first blow to its infallibility) made obvious by the progress of science, he concluded: “This is not a problem should we consider that God sent the Bible to make better Christians out of us—and not better geographers.” Voltaire fought against the Church, but not against religion, “the holy link of society.” His Epistle to Uranie (1732), which is reproduced at the opening of Holbach’s book, ends up on the lines: “He (God) judges us on our virtues, not on our sacrifices”—in both cases, He judges us. Voltaire was a deist— Holbach was an atheist: “Everything in (the Bible) is but disorder, obscurity, and barbarity of style—as if purposely trying to disconcert the ignorant, and disgust the learnt.” He doesn’t question the miracles of Jesus only, but the New Testament on a whole: “Four ignorant and illiterate men are the supposed authors of the theses memoirs (...). Nothing of all this has ever happened! The Gospels tell an Oriental tale that will disgust men of good sense. It was meant for ignorant and stupid people—the rabble; they are the only ones they can lure.” Cursed are the meek.

 

Fiat lux!

Holbach’s book “miraculously” came out: no date (circa 1770) and no author’s name—an immaculate conception, and a wise precaution. It has since been credited to Holbach by Barbier (Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes—Paris, 1874; tome 2, p647), and although condemned by censorship, it was reprinted in 1778 (fake address in Amsterdam). Holbach calling himself “an incredulous,” was “no victim of holy blindness.” Thus he went on the mountaintop and here is what his eyes beheld!

 

One day, the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary. Actually, it was most likely “a lover, who, making profit of Joseph’s absence, found a way to declare and satisfy his passion.” Joseph, her husband, flew into a rage upon finding out she had cheated on him, and probably threatened her with reprisals. She was thus forced to fly to Egypt with “his putative child”. There, the young Jesus learnt “a bit of medicine and a few things about spasmodic diseases of women—enough for the vulgar to see him as a sorcerer or a miracle maker.”

 

Did he learn a few tricks as well? Holbach suspects so. After 30 idle years, Jesus decided to preach, and turned to his cousin John, who was already baptizing people on the bank of the Jordan River. He went to “confer with him—or, if you want, to get baptized”, and they shared the roles. When John was arrested, “the Messiah*, fearing that his predecessor’s problems might get to him (...) went to hide in the desert, where he remained for 40 days.” Through a series of dubious miracles—“miracles cost Jesus nothing when they were planned beforehand, but he never made any improvised one, nor in the presence of people he considered as too clever.”—, Jesus soon gathered a “large crowd of lazy people” who suffered from “very convenient stupidity.” From the donations he required from his new disciples, he sometimes unexpectedly fed the multitude that was starving (the miracle of the loaves); other times, benefiting from circumstances, he gave the impression of walking on water.

 

Jesus met with what Holbach calls a legitimate resistance from the Jews, as he was openly challenging their laws and traditions. Furthermore, he was a “vindictive and turbulent man”; rejected by the Jews, he turned to the Gentiles. But he was losing ground. “At the end of his mission, the crowd doesn’t follow Jesus (...) In last resort, he tried to attract the Publicans, and the clerks, who were highly despised; they were but a weak support, and their company cost Jesus the sympathy of his last supporters.” He then decided to bring back Lazarus to life. But this miracle was one too many—Lazarus and Jesus were long-time friends and “the Jews felt so much malice that, far from converting, they seized the occasion to take serious measures against Jesus.” The messiah then went to Jerusalem on a donkey, “out of humility or because he had no choice”, to preach. His last attempt at rallying the Jews was a failure. “Our hero often loses his mind; his character is a mix of boldness and pusillanimity. Accustomed to shine in front of the vulgar, he didn’t know how to behave in front of vigilant and learnt enemies.” He was betrayed, arrested and the rest is... history? “I remain convinced,” Holbach concludes, “that this man may have been a fanatic, who genuinely thought he was inspired and sent by God to lead his nation—in a word, a messiah; and that he didn’t mind, in order to succeed, using the most efficient frauds to convince a people that would have never listened to him hadn’t it been for miracles.”

  

A modern reader left a comment on a platform about the recent reprint of this book: “Useless,” he wrote. “Our modern biblical scholars have found so much more relevant things in-between!” But you shall not judge a book by its contents only—the date it was published is of high importance! When the Earth was not even 6,000, it was quite courageous and bold to write such a reasonable book. Furthermore, there’s something exciting about Holbach’s vision of Jesus, especially from our modern point of view. Was Jesus an ordinary yet extremely intelligent man carried away by heavenly visions, passionately feeling the presence of God within? Did Christianity spring from built-up miracles and pious stupidity? Maybe, but at the end of the day, does it really matter? Could reason ever prevail in Man’s life? Man was created unreasonable, and he will always lend a keen ear to the good ole snake. Of course, France has overtaken religion, and chased it away from the core of its institutions. But in certain places where the Church still influences hundreds of thousands of lives, the question of the infallibility of the Bible remains—in this regard, Holbach’s book seems to be a reasonable enough read.

 

* Holbach objects: Jesus couldn’t be from the Tribe of David as required from the messiah if John’s mother, Elizabeth, was Mary’s relative. Indeed, Elizabeth was married to a priest (as the Bible reads), meaning she was, like her entire family (including Mary then Jesus), from the tribe of Levy.

 

- Histoire critique de Jésus-Christ, ou Analyse raisonnée des Evangiles (no place, no date—1770). Title page / Epistle (III to VIII) / Preface (XXXII pages) / 398 pages / 2 pages.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Macbeth: A Tragedy.</i> London, 1673. FIRST SEPARATE AND FIRST QUARTO EDITION. THE CHARLTON HESTON COPY. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. <i>In Our Time.</i> Paris, 1924. FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> VERNE, JULES. <i>A Journey to the Centre of the Earth.</i> New York & London, 1872. FIRST EDITION, RARE AMERICAN ISSUE, with Scribner & Welford cancel title. $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> PLATO. <i>Timaeus</i> [AND] <i>Critias</i> [from Ficini's 1484 Opera]. A LANDMARK OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. $80,000 to $120,000.
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Fust-Schöffer-Bibel from Gutenberg-Press, 1462. Est: € 1,000,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. W. Weinmann, <i>Phytanthoza-Iconographia,</i> 1735-45. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>O. Kokoschka, <i>Die träumenden Knaben,</i> 1917. Est: € 10,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>Z. Lilius, <i>Orbis breviarium,</i> 1493. <br>Est: € 10,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> <i>Gazette du Bon Ton,</i> 1912-22.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Daphnis & Chloé,</i> 1961. Est: € 100,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Ptolemaeus, <i>Geographie,</i> 1513.<br>Est: € 100,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>E. L. Kirchner, <i>Umbra vitae,</i> 1924.<br>Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Miró, <i>Midi le trèfle blanc,</i> 1968. Est: € 2,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Clemens V., <i>Constitutiones,</i> 1471.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Gesner, <i>Tierbuch, Vogelbuch, Fischbuch,</i> 1563-81. Est: € 5,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Itten, <i>Utopia,</i> 1921. Est: € 2,000

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