Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2018 Issue

Erasmushaus Offers European Antiquarian Books in Their Rare Book List I

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Rare Book List 1.

Erasmushaus recently published their Rare Book List I. That is not what it might imply. This is hardly the Swiss bookseller's first catalogue. Last I knew, they had published around 930 numbered catalogues and 52 of their Intermezzos. This is just a different format. Indeed, they have been selling books since 1800. In other words, they have been around longer than some of the antiquarian books they now sell. Here are a few selections from their first book list, but latest of many printed collections.

 

We start with a book that is an amazing if odd achievement. It comes from the noted Italian typographer and printer Giambattista Bodoni. He was the creator of the still common Bodoni typefaces. The title is Oratio Dominica in 155. linguas versa et exoticis characteribus plerumque expressa, and it was published in 1806. What this is is the "Our Father," or Lord's Prayer, printed in 155 different languages. Fifty-eight of these are Latin-based languages, including italics, but the other 97 are "exotic" languages. Naturally, this presented a great challenge to Bodoni. He didn't have 97 exotic typefaces for languages he never before printed sitting around the shop. He had to design all of them himself. The book is divided into four sections, covering the languages of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. However, the preface and dedication was limited to three languages, French, Italian, and Latin. It was dedicated to Eugene de Beauharnais, viceroy of Italy under Napoleon. De Beauharnais was the son of Empress Josephine and the stepson of Napoleon. He liked the book so much that he bought up all 180 copies printed on behalf of the government, which later sold them to others. Item 8. Priced at CHF 6,000 (Swiss francs, or approximately $6,175 U.S. dollars).

 

Next we have the masterpiece of the Enlightenment, Encyclopedie, ou dictionnaire raisonne des sciences des arts et des metiers... by Denis Diderot and Jean d'Alembert. Diderot and d'Alembert were the major writers of this massive compilation of human knowledge, though many other great French minds of the day, including Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Buffon, provided important contributions. While a vast compilation of knowledge, the Encyclopedia also promoted the ideals of the Enlightenment, reason and governments that served their people, rather than the other way around. Item 20 is a copy of the Swiss edition, published in 39 volumes 1778-1781. This was the octavo edition, following earlier folio and quarto editions. It was more convenient for use, but more importantly, it was less expensive. By being more affordable, it opened the doors to learning to people of lesser means than the more wealthy who could afford the larger editions. This is not to say that it reached the poor who could not afford books even if they could read them, but to people more the equivalent of the middle class, educated, of some profession, but still on limited budgets. CHF 12,000 (US $12,395).

 

This is a much later edition of a book, but unlike in most cases, this does not make it one of low value. The book is Sir Thomas More's Utopia, originally published in 1516. This edition did not come until almost four centuries later – 1893. Nevertheless, it is a most desirable book as it came off the press of the most notable of all the fine private printers, that of William Morris' Kelmscott Press. More was a humanist of his times, one who sought not so much to rearrange society as to fix its wrongs. As such he promoted the ideals of Erasmus, the Catholic reformer at the time of the Protestant revolution, who helped have the book printed. Erasmus sought to reform the Catholic Church, rather than overthrow it. So, in More's Utopia, we find a contemporary society, but one that operates under the ideals of tolerance, education, and high moral standards. The book was a favorite of Morris. Morris was an ardent socialist, and he had published a book about his own version of a Utopian society just two years earlier. Utopia was a natural for Kelmscott to published when Morris sought out earlier great books to print. Morris used the type of his most notable work, the Kelmscott Chaucer, printed in red and black. Item 48. CHF 4,800 (US $4,942).

 

Next is an important work on Japan, Histoire naturelle, civile et ecclesiastique de l'empire du Japon. This is the 1729 first French edition of a work originally published in English in 1727. It was regarded as the best look at Japan for a century, that country's exclusion policy keeping almost all westerners away. The author was Englebert Kaempfer, a German physician and naturalist, who did much traveling, particularly around the Dutch West Indies, before proceeding to Japan. He stayed in Nagasaki from 1690-1692. He spent his time studying just about everything about Japan as well as exploring the land. The result was this thorough look at Japan, including its history, flora, geography, tea, paper, customs, architecture, coins, calligraphy, and the exclusion policy that lasted until the country was forced to open its doors by the American Navy in the 1850s. The manuscript was purchased after Kaempfer's death by Sir Hans Sloane, who had it published a decade later. It was not a bestseller when first published in English, being subscribed in only 162 copies, but became widely appreciated in Europe after the release of this French translation. Item 38. CHF 6,800 (US $7,022).

 

Item 64 is a Latin work going back to 1601, Augustissimorum imperatorum, serenissimorum regum, atque archiducum, illustrissimorum principum ... verissimae imagines ... & rerum ... gestarum succcinctae descriptiones. That's a mouthful. Erasmushaus describes this as "the first illustrated museum catalogue ever printed." The author was Jakob Schrenck von Notzing, but the museum collection was that of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tirol. The Archduke had a great interest in history, with a particular concentration in weaponry and armor. He put together a collection of over 1,000 portraits of European noblemen and women. He also collected the armor of notable leaders from the 15th and 16th centuries. They were placed on display at his large residence, Ambras Castle. Ferdinand assigned his personal secretary, Schrenck, to create this catalogue. It took a while as it was not published until six years after Ferdinand died. CHF 12,000 (US $12,395).

 

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Princess Diana, group of 6 ALS to the editor of British Vogue, 1989-92. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing with news after pledging support to King George III against the American rebels, 1776. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Ulysses S. Grant, photograph dated & signed as President, portrait by Brady, 1875. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Alexander Graham Bell, ALS, accepting an invitation to tea during his only trip to Japan, 1898. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Nikola Tesla, signature & date on his monogrammed correspondence card, 1935. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Richard Wagner, ALS, concerning his opera Rienzi, 1869. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, autograph note signed, requesting the address of Yvette Guilbert, 1895. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Claude Monet, ALS, to painter Harry Lachman, complaining that his vision has not improved, 1920s. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Friedrich Hölderlin, autograph manuscript, unsigned, 7 lines quoting Michael Denis's <i>Ossians und Sineds Lieder.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Guestbook for Lüchow's restaurant, over 400 signatures, including W.H. Auden, Grace Kelly & drawings by Charles Addams, NYC, 1950-56. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> George Washington, lottery ticket, signed, 1768. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21:</b> Vaslav Nijinsky, postcard dated & signed, showing a drawing of him in <i>Schéhérazade,</i> 1916. $2,500 to $3,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Greco (Gioachino). <i>Primo modo del gioco de Partito…</i> Manuscript, France, 1624 or 1625. A collection of partiti, or 'chess problems' by one of the most important figures in the history of chess. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Herodotus. <i>Historiae,</i> translated into Latin by Lorenzo Valla and edited by Antonio Mancinelli. Venice, 1494. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Darwin (Charles). Autograph Letter signed to his cousin Reginald Darwin, Down, Beckenham, Kent, 27th March 1879. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Nicolay (Nicolas de). <i>The Navigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkie,</i> first edition in English, Imprinted at London by Thomas Dawson, 1585. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Saint-Exupéry (Antoine de). <i>The Little Prince,</i> number 66 of 525 copies signed by the author, 1943. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Catlin (George, 1796-1872). Tuch-ee, A Celebrated War Chief of the Cherokees, watercolour, [circa 1834]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Genetics.- A collection of c.300 pamphlets on genetics comprising many of the major contributions from the first half of the 20th century. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> India.- Rajasthan.- Kota School (probably late 18th c.). Elephant in a landscape with chains around his feet, brush and black ink with opaque pigments. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Commelin (Caspar). <i>Horti medici Amstelaedamensis plantae rariores et exoticae,</i> first edition, 48 finely hand-coloured engraved plates, Leiden, F.Haringh, 1706. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Plague-water and cookery & medical recipes.- Jackson (Mrs Sarah). Medical and cookery recipes, manuscript in several hands, title and 134pp., 1688-1755. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Vernet (<i>After</i> Joseph, 1714-1789). <i>[Vues des ports de France],</i> sixteen plates (of 18), etchings and engravings by Charles Nicolas Cochin fils and Jacques Philippe Le Bas, [c.1760-1780]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Detmold (Edward Julius, 1883-1957). Parrots and Butterflies, watercolour. £2,500 to £3,500.
  • <b>Koller Auctions: Books & Autographs. March 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Jacques Gamelin. <i>Nouveau recueil d'osteologie et de myologie, dessine d'apres nature...</i> 2 parts in 1 vol., large folio, 82 copper plates. CHF 12,000 to 18,000
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Melchior Pfintzing. <i>Die geverlicheiten und einsteils geschichten des loblichen streytparen...</i> 118 woodcut engravings, first edition. CHF 30,000 to 50,000
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Book of hours. Handwritten Latin text on vellum. With 17 large miniatures, Flanders, c.1460. CHF 70,000 to 90,000
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Maria Sibylla Merian. <i> Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium,</i> 72 copper plates, Den Haag, 1726. CHF 60,000 to 90,000

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