Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2019 Issue

25 High Spots from John Windle Bookseller

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25 High Spots.

John Windle Bookseller has issued a new "short list," this one entitled 25 High Spots. The bookseller describes it as "25 items of unusual importance, interest, and beauty, to be exhibited at London Firsts and Melbourne Rare Book Fair 2019." These books are doing some serious traveling. Since their description, while concise, says it all, we will move ahead to look at a few specific titles in this catalogue.

 

We begin with what Windle describes as a "[f]irst edition of the single most important scientific book ever published." Certainly, it completely changed how we as humans saw ourselves, and many people did not like that (still don't). Item 10 is a copy of the 1859 first edition of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection... by Charles Darwin. There were previous believers in evolution, including Darwin's grandfather, but they all thought that either there was something in the nature of living beings that made them change, or that species somehow changed themselves to become better adapted to their environment and then passed these new traits on to their offspring. No one saw it as random variations which occur in an individual which prove to be favorable to their environment, giving that individual a survival advantage and a better chance of passing on those randomly acquired advantages. Of course, this contradicted the biblical creation story and, at least, removed God from active participation in human development. This was hard for most of Darwin's contemporaries outside of the scientific community, and many within, to accept. It is not only, perhaps, the single most important scientific book ever published but the most controversial one as well. Item 10. Priced at $87,500.

 

Here is another Darwin book, not of as earth-shattering importance as Origin of Species, but extremely rare thanks to a few handwritten words. This one is The Power of Movement in Plants published in 1880. With this book, Darwin was assisted by his son, Francis, himself a notable botanist. This book is a study of the movement of climbing plants. What makes this copy rare is that it is inscribed, in Charles Darwin's hand, to his daughter Elizabeth - "Elizabeth Darwin, From her Father." There are numerous Darwin presentation copies of books, but most are inscribed (by the publisher, not Darwin) "from the author." A presentation copy inscribed in Darwin's hand is very rare, one to a family member exceptionally so. Very little is known about Elizabeth Darwin. Several of the ten Darwin children became well-known in their own right, but the child about whom the least is known is Elizabeth. She was apparently the least bright of the Darwin children, perhaps having some learning disability. She lived with her parents until both died and never married. She did live on her own for many years after her mother died, close to some of her siblings, to whose children she was "Aunt Bessy." Item 11. $125,000.

 

Next is another important scientific work, not on quite the level of Darwin, but important to medicine as well. It is the only book to appear on three Grolier 100 lists (American, science, and medicine). Windle notes that this is a first edition, first issue "of what has been termed the greatest single contribution to the knowledge of gastric digestion." There is also a strange story behind it. The title is Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion. The author was William Beaumont, the book being published in the far northern New York border town of Plattsburgh in 1833. Beaumont was an army surgeon on the frontier of Michigan when French Canadian woodsman Alexis St. Martin walked in, suffering a grievous wound to the stomach. He had accidentally been shot in the stomach. His chances were not good, but Beaumont managed to save his life. When he healed, St. Martin consented to placing a skin flap over the hole which enabled Beaumont to peer in to his stomach and observe the processes inside. This explains how he was able to conduct experiments and observations of gastric juices. The great physician, "Father of Modern Medicine" William Osler, unsuccessfully attempted to obtain St. Martin's stomach after he died at age 78 and later wrote, "To the medical bibliographer there are few more treasured Americana than the brown-backed, poorly printed octavo volume of 280 pages with the imprint of Plattsburgh, printed by F.P. Allen, 1833." As you might guess from that description, Osler was also a bibliophile. This copy has the provenance of the noted 19th century physician Willard Parker. Item 1. $3,750.

 

This next item is a schoolbook, though a bit more valuable than the typical school text. The title is The Pastorals of Virgil, with a Course of English Reading adapted for Schools, edited by Robert Thornton, published in 1821. The purpose of this book was to teach schoolchildren Latin, though in choosing Virgil, Thornton wanted to inspire them to think too. This was the third edition of Thornton's text. The first edition had no illustrations. He added a few to the second and sales went up. Thornton decided to add a lot of them to the third edition, figuring that would really boost sales. If Thornton's name is not much remembered, that of the man he called in to create some of the woodblocks is. That would be William Blake. Blake had a decent reputation by then, though was never appreciated during his lifetime the way he was a century later. The publisher didn't like his woodcuts, wanting them recut. Fortunately, other artists convinced Thornton that was not a good idea, and he used them anyway, though the publisher cut down the blocks and printed them poorly. Windle says that "the impressions of the woodcuts in this copy are the richest I have ever seen." Perhaps that is because this was a special copy, not one shipped off to schools. It is a presentation copy inscribed by Thornton to his daughter. As such, it was kept in excellent condition, unlike those that ended up being handled by schoolchildren. Fortunately, the blocks were saved and published again shortly after Blake's death in 1827 and in a small portfolio 150 years later in 1977. Item 3. $67,500.

 

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller may be reached at 415-986-5826 or john@johnwindle.com. Their website is www.johnwindle.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Sense and Sensibility: A Novel, By a Lady,</i> 3 volumes, London, 1811. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>Kew Gardens,</i> limited edition, signed by Woolf & Bell, London, 1927. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> <i>[Arabian Nights],</i> Calcutta II version, 4 volumes, Calcutta & London, 1839-1842. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 ALS to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor, anticipating Christie’s sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Emma,</i> first edition, London, 1816. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Hirohito & Nagako, Emperor & Empress of Japan, 2 photographs signed, showing Nagako in kimono & obi bearing the imperial seal. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 autograph letters signed to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor Elizabeth Tilberis, anticipating Christie’s announcement of a sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Sarojini Naidu, complete galley proof of <i>The Broken Wing</i> signed with several holograph pages & an autograph letter signed to writer Edmund Gosse, 1916. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Fernando Pessoa, <i>Mensagem,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, Lisbon, 1934. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Graham Greene, <i>The Basement Room,</i> first edition, Greene’s personal copy, signed with annotations throughout, London, 1935. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Abraham Lincoln, partly-printed document signed, call for troops issued during America’s first national draft just days before the NYC draft riots, 1863. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b><br><i>Les Chansons de Bilitis</i> by Pierre Louÿs, illustrated by George Barbier & F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1922. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €
  • <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Harriet Tubman Cabinet Card by H.S. Squyer, Auburn, NY, 1892. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Scarce <i>Events of the Tulsa Disaster,</i> First Edition, 1922. $4,000 to $6,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass by Benjamin F. Smith, 1864. $3,000 to $5,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> California Imprint of <i>President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation</i> Broadside, 1864. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> John C.H. Grabill Cabinet Card of Buffalo Soldier Wearing Buffalo Coat, ca 1886. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare <i>What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,</i> 2nd Cookbook Published by African American. $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Frederick Douglass Walking Stick, 1888. $3,000 to $5,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Only Known Slave Narrative Published Independently in California, <i>Life and Adventures of James Williams.</i> $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare First Edition of History of Black Literature, Abbé Grégoire <i>De La Littérature des Nègres</i>. $2,500 to $3,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> African American Soldier and Medal of Honor Winner Christian A. Fleetwood CDV, PLUS. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries Pennant, 1910 Reno, Nevada. $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Joe Gans Photograph at 1906 Goldfield, Nevada Fight by Percy Dana. $600 to $800

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