Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2019 Issue

Imagination and the Illustrated Book from Ursus Rare Books

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Imagination in illustrated books.

Ursus Rare Books has released their Catalogue 343 Imagination & The Illustrated Book from Piranesi to Present. That is a date range, or more specifically, 1748-2017. These books are mostly artistic in one fashion or another. Some are works of art, some artists' books, others just graced with wonderful illustrations. Several are combinations between visual artists and literary ones. The artwork is quite original, often unusual, surrealism often popping its strange head. These are a few items to be found in this collection of illustrated books.

 

Life was not easy for the great artist and engraver William Blake. Between perfecting his art and making enough money to get by, it was always a struggle. Perhaps that is why he was so fascinated with Job. He didn't suffer quite as much as the biblical figure, but it is likely Blake could relate to him, his struggles and ultimate redemption. Still, it wasn't until late in life that he took on his Illustrations of the Book of Job. It was published in 1825, two years before his death, when Blake was age 68. Two years earlier, his friend, the painter John Linnell, commissioned the series. Blake was never much appreciated during his lifetime. It would take several decades before he began to get his due recognition, but Linnell recognized his extraordinary talent before others and provided the funds Blake needed. These illustrations are quintessential Blake, spiritual, otherworldly. Each has a caption quote from the Book of Job or other part of the Bible, while other quotes reflecting Job's struggles can be found at the top. Decorative borders otherwise surround the images. As Ursus points out, the illustrations "must be seen to be fully appreciated." The bookseller notes that this is an unusually clean copy, without the significant foxing seen in most, though it has not been washed. Item 2. Priced at $85,000.

 

Next we have a familiar early venture into science fiction, though you may not recognize the title unless you speak French: Les Guerre des Mondes. This is a 1906 Brussels edition (in French) of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. This work is known not only for its written merit, but for the 1938 radio enactment that had many Americans believing America was actually under attack by Martians. While a later edition translated to a foreign language is usually not a very desirable one, this edition is desirable because of its illustrations. They were provided by an obscure Brazilian artist, Henrique Alvim Corrêa (translated in the French edition to Henri Alvin Correa). These are a nightmarish bunch of illustrations that will relieve you of any misconceptions that Martians are cute little green men. You will not want to be the first person to travel to Mars once you see who lives there. I cannot vouch for this, since I understand not everything you read on the internet is necessarily true, but reportedly, Corrêa, who had moved to Brussels to set up his studio, traveled to London to show Wells his artwork. Wells was so impressed that he asked him to illustrate his upcoming French edition of The War of the Worlds. Again, according to internet sources, Wells later said, "Alvim Corrêa did more for my work with his brush than I with my pen." Whether apocryphal or real, these illustrations are worthy of such praise. Perhaps the reason so few people are familiar with Corrêa is that he died just a few years later of tuberculosis at the age of 34. Item 13. $8,500.

 

Here is another illustrated book with drawings strange enough to match those of Corrêa. This is surrealism long before that term was invented. J. J. Grandville was a French artist of great imagination. By the time he got around to this book, which Ursus calls "Grandville's masterpiece," he had done much illustration work for magazines and books. He did caricatures for magazines, his wit making them popular among readers. When restrictions were placed on caricaturing people, he turned more to book illustration, often with classics. Item 4 is Grandville's Un Autre Monde. Transformations, Visions, Incarnations... published in 1844. The first part of that title translates to "an other world." That it is. Bizarre creatures and such inhabit this very strange, surrealistic other world. It was nothing like anything seen before, and it became influential on other artists such as John Tenniel. It clearly was influential on the drawings Tenniel created for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Grandville's drawings provide a preview of them. $9,750.

 

These next drawings are not surrealistic, but rather, futuristic. They come from the most unlikely of places. Item 31 is Arkhitekturniie Fantazii (architectural fantasies), published in 1933. This is a collection of 101 architectural designs from the vivid imagination of Yakov Chernykov. It contains drawings of cities, structures, factories and such with designs far ahead of their time. Ursus describes this as "one of the most exciting books on architecture issued in the twentieth century." Compton, in his writing about Russian avante-garde books, says his "almost unlimited imagination for architectural forms provides a pattern book for modernist architecture, rather than a repertoire of viable designs." Here is why this book is so surprising. Imaginative, avant-garde work is hardly synonymous with Stalin's Soviet Union. Drab, gray, practical was the order of the day. The result was very few of Chernykov's designs were ever used, and the avante-garde in the Soviet Union was quickly repressed after this time. $12,500.

 

Here is another strange book, but in a very different way. Ursus describes it thus - "A stupendous object, in a binding that is completely over the top. Fascist bombast at its most preposterous." This one was commissioned by Mussolini, who was not shy about being self-aggrandizing, to celebrate his subjugation of the people of Ethiopia in 1936. This work was produced in 1937 by Celso Maria Garatti, the title being Italiani di Mussolini in A. O. (Italians of Mussolini in A. O., "A. O." being Africa Orientale or East Africa). It features a cloth binding with copper tubes along the spine and an onlaid metal axe protruding over the front cover. An axe and rods is a fasces, a device for clearing people out of the way in ancient times. It became the symbol of the fascist regime. This large folio book is filled with pictures, mostly photographs of fascist control of Ethiopia. It didn't last long. By 1941, the Allies, mainly the British, had thrown the Italians out of East Africa. Item 43. $8,500.

 

Ursus Books may be reached at 212-772-8787 or pkraus@ursusbooks.com. Their website is www.ursusbooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Faulkner, William. <i>The Sound and the Fury.</i> New York: Jonathan Cape, [1929]. First edition in dust jacket. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Trautz-Bauzonnet bindery. Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $800 to $1,200
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</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 11:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Shakespeare’s Sonnets, In Two Parts,</i> limited Saint Dunstan edition, Oxford University Press, 1901. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. $18,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>The Man with the Golden Gun,</i> first edition, first state with the dust jacket, London, 1965. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>The Voyage Out,</i> first American edition of the author’s first book, in rare dust jacket, NY, 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gabriel García Márquez, <i>Cien años de soledad,</i> Buenos Aires, 1967. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Mary Mapes Dodge, <i>Along the Way,</i> first edition, author’s copy, annotated in her hand, NY, 1879. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> <i>The Dial: A Monthly Magazine for Literature, Philosophy and Religion,</i> first edition, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy, Cincinnati, 1860. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gaston Leroux, <i>The Phantom of the Opera,</i> first American edition, first printing, New York, 1911. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Walt Whitman, <i>Leaves of Grass,</i> signed, Camden, 1876. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Leslie Hindman Auctioneers: Fine Books and Manuscripts. May 1, 2019</b>
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> WRIGHT, Wilbur -- WRIGHT, Orville. Photograph signed. 128 x 177 mm, black and white. Taken for Collier's Weekly by James H. ("Jimmy") Hare. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> WRIGHT, Wilbur -- WRIGHT, Orville. Typed document signed, New York, NY, 18 November 1909. A founding document in the history of aviation: the certificate of incorporation for the Wright Company. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> LINCOLN, Mary Todd. Personal monogrammed handkerchief. Square linen handkerchief, silk border, "ML" monogram to one corner, 11 1/8 x 11 1/4 in. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Leslie Hindman Auctioneers: Fine Books and Manuscripts. May 1, 2019</b>
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> TRUMAN, Harry S. Broadside signed, as President, 8 May 1945. Truman's V-E Day proclamation. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> WASHINGTON, Martha Dandridge Custis, First Lady. Autograph free frank signed on integral cover sheet. One of four surviving free franks by Martha Washington. $30,000 to $40,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> DALI, Salvador, illustrator. -- DODGSON, Charles Lutwidge. <i>Alice in Wonderland.</i> New York: W.U.C.U.A. and Maecenas Press - Random House, 1969. Limited edition, signed by Dali. $3,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman Auctioneers: Fine Books and Manuscripts. May 1, 2019</b>
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> CHURCHILL, Winston Spencer. <i>Lord Randolph Churchill.</i> London: Macmillan and Co., 1906. First edition, presentation copy to his valet, inscribed. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> DICKENS, Charles. <i>Great Expectations.</i> London: Chapman and Hall, 1861. First edition, 3 vols. Vol. I second issue, vol. II first issue, vol. III third issue. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> DODGSON, Charles Lutwidge ("Lewis Carroll"). <i>Sylvie and Bruno. -Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.</i> London: Macmillan, 1889, 1893. First editions, inscribed presentation copies. 2 works in 2 vols. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Leslie Hindman Auctioneers: Fine Books and Manuscripts. May 1, 2019</b>
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> KEULEN, Gerard van. <i>Nieuwe Wassende Graaden Paskaart Vertoonende alle de Bekende Zeekusten en…</i> [Amsterdam, ca 1720]. Important 18th century world map depicting California as an island. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> ALHAZEN [Abu 'Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham]. <i>Opticae thesaurus.</i> Translated from Arabic into Latin. First edition of Alhazen’s classic work on optics and vision. $18,000 to $25,000
    <b>Leslie Hindman, May 1:</b> GALILEI, Galileo. <i>Systema cosmicum... in quo quatuor dialogis…</i> Translated from Italian by Matthias Bernegger. Strasbourg: D. Hauttius for the Elzevirs [at Leiden], 1635. First Latin edition. $6,000 to $8,000

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