Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2019 Issue

Antiquarian and Rare Books from Erasmushaus


Catalogue 930 from Erasmushaus.

Erasmushaus has published their Catalogue 930. The only other title is Rare Books, which these are. We might add to that antiquarian. Most of what is found is of a very aged vintage. The dates range from 1472-1908. Fully half of the books offered are dated from the 16th century or earlier. Languages represented include several European tongues, including the once commonly used Latin. Many contain beautiful illustrations with coloring by hand. Topics vary. These are a few samples of what you will find.


We begin with the oldest book in the catalogue, Historia Naturalis by Plinius Secundus. The author is more commonly known as Pliny the Elder. While this book is ancient, having been published in 1472, it was written 1,400 years earlier when Pliny could still be found wandering around ancient Rome. His Natural History is one of the more complete and significant books to have survived from the time. It is filled with information covering numerous topics, sort of a precursor of the encyclopedia. It is presented in 37 books, covering fields such as astronomy, cosmology, meteorology, geology, geography, ethnology, anthropology, zoology, botany, agriculture, medicine, mineralogy, metallurgy, and fine arts. It remained a well studied and respected resource from Pliny's time right through its first printing and later. It served as a guide for da Vinci, Columbus, Michelangelo and others. Item 1 is a copy of the third printed edition, the first having come in 1469. It is known as the Jenson edition for its publisher, Nicolaus Jenson, and is noted for its beauty and clarity and for Jenson's typeface designs. Priced at CHF 225,000 (Swiss francs, or approximately $230,384 in U.S. dollars).


This is probably not the most highly cited of works by John (Jean) Calvin: Defensio Orthodoxae Fidei de Sacra Trinitarte, contra Prodigiosos Errores Michaelis Serveti Hispani, published in 1554 (Defense of the Orthodox Trinitarian faith against the prodigious errors of Michael Servetus of Spain). Servetus was a Spanish theologian and scientist who had debated anonymously by letter with Calvin for years. He had what were considered by Catholics and most Protestants to be unorthodox views on the Trinity, along with opposing infant Baptism. It was not a friendly debate. In the middle of the 16th century, Calvin held power as Protestant leader in Geneva where he determined to deal with what he deemed the heresy of the Spanish exile. I would not pretend to take sides in their theological debate nor even understand them, but Calvin's response was enough to make even a loyal Calvinist squirm. He had Servetus executed, not just executed but burned at the stake. He used slow burning wood to make sure Servetus fully appreciated the error of his ways. This book is Calvin's attempt to justify his actions. It wasn't easy. CHF 12,000 (US $12,286).


Calvin's actions led to a scathing response from Sebastian Castellio, but he was not without his supporters. After Catellio issued his response, this rare book in defense of Calvin was written by Theodore de Beze, under the pseudonym Martinous Bellius, De Haereticis a Civili Magistratu Puniendis Libellus, Adversus Martini Bellii Farriginem... also published in 1554. De Beze defends the indefensible, sarcastically labeling the execution of Servetus as "the martyrdom of this most innocent Servetus." Item 17. CHF 6,500 (US $6,654).


This is one of the more beautiful illustrated works of the 18th century. The images explode off the pages, almost literally. The title is Campi Phlegraei. Observations on the Volcanos of the Two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London. Sir William Hamilton wrote four books on volcanoes, but this is the best. He was able to provide a clearer description of volcanic activity and explain his theories. Hamilton went to the volcanic sites in Italy, some of them underwater, others on islands, but also the well-known Vesuvius and Mt. Etna. He hooked up with artist Pietro Fabris in Naples, and the two visited various volcanic sites. At times, they were at notable risk as they went to observe active eruptions. They climbed Vesuvius at least 22 times so that Fabris could make sketches at various points in the cycle. His dramatic illustrations capture the force of the eruptions. There are 59 hand-colored plates in the book. Item 29, published 1776-1779. CHF 240,000 (US $245,684).


One of the most famous works of Egyptian illustrations in the days before photography is John Roberts' "Egypt and Nubia." It is a spectacular work of art. However, it was hardly the first. The ancient monuments of Egypt had fascinated Europeans for centuries prior. Here is probably the best such work as of a century before Roberts, with the similar title (in French) Voyage d'Egypte et de Nubie. It is the work of Danish navigator and traveler Frederik Ludvig Norden. Norden was commissioned by King Christian VI to draw the sites and bring back all the information he could find. Norden went to Egypt in 1737 and these two volumes contain his illustrations and descriptions of what he found. Norden died young, age 34 in 1742, his book being published posthumously in 1755. Item 26. CHF 18,000 (US $18,428).


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>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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