Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2023 Issue

Nineteenth Century Illustrated Books from Ursus Rare Books

Nineteenth Century Illustrated Books.

Ursus Rare Books has released a catalogue of Nineteenth Century Illustrated Books. There are all types of books here, historical, scientific, mathematical, political, architectural, educational, children's, etc. The common element beyond date is being illustrated, not just ordinary illustrations but those requiring highly skilled artists and often hand-coloring. They are always worth looking at, even if you don't read them. Here are a few of these items.


We begin with a picture book about San Francisco. It contain 67 photogravures. The title is Select San Francisco. What makes it particularly interesting is the date – 1898. If Chicago has its ante-fire images then San Francisco has its ante-earthquake images. The earthquake came just eight years later and San Francisco has never looked the same again. Item 72. Priced at $2,500.


Next we have a book of illustrations for one of the grandest of architectural projects, perhaps the greatest one never built. The book is Projetto sul Foro Bonaparte che doveva Eseguirsi in Milano in 24 Gran Tavole (Project on the Forum Bonaparte which was to be carried out in Milan in 24 large tables), published in 1814. The architect was Giovanni Antonio Antolini. With the French controlling Milan, Antolini was commissioned to design the grand Foro Bonaparte. The plan was to move the city center to the Sforza Castle, which had been scheduled for demolition. The castle would be like the Forum in Rome, surrounded by Doric columns. Outside that would have been a plaza, which would then be surrounded by various government buildings, a court house, public baths, universities, theaters and museums. It was a spectacular project and reportedly, Napoleon liked it. That's not surprising as it was to be named for him. However, the project proved a bit too grand for a city the size of Milan and it was never built. Item 11. $35,000.


In this next book, the story wasn't real either, though the images were. Item 17 is Le Voyageur Anglais Autour du Monde Habitable: Nouvelle Méthode Amusante et Instructive pour étudier la Géographie...Orné de 45 Gravures coloriees... (The English Traveler Around the Habitable World: A Fun and Instructive New Method of Studying Geography... Decorated with 45 Colored Engravings). The teacher here was Rene Périn. Périn was a playwright and novelist with many works to his credit. This one was intended to teach children about the world. It follows the adventures of English travelers Felix and Felicia. However, there was no Felix nor Felicia. They were imaginary, but the places they visited were not. They visited London, Paris, St. Petersburg, Naples, Washington, Peking, Cairo, Buenos Aires, and many others. Those sites are illustrated and there are maps and plates of costumes. It is described as a translation, and Périn was also a translator, but there does not appear to be an English edition from which this was translated. That's likely just one more fiction. $3,500.


This is surely one of the most amazing illustrated books of the 19th century. What makes it even more amazing is that it was not meant to be a work of art. It's just a math book. The title is The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid in which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are used instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners, by Oliver Byrne, published in 1847. It is fantastically colorful, but for the life of me I can't figure out why Byrne thought it made learning Euclid easier. Nonetheless, he claimed, “It is based on the theory that by means of colour the Elements of Euclid can be acquired in less than one third the time usually employed.” What it did was to replace letters in equations, like a + b = c, with colored shapes, squares, triangles, rectangles, featuring what has been described as “a riot of color.” Mathematically, I find it impossible to follow, but the pre-cubist art is awesome. Ruari McLean describes it as “one of the oddest and most beautiful books of the whole century.” Item 33. $22,500.


That was not the only odd mathematical book Byrne published. Less well known is this one – The Young Geometrician; or Practical Geometry without Compasses, published in 1865. It too uses brightly colored figures to teach geometry. Ursus says of this book, “While clearly not as dazzling as that book (the Euclid), it is still a tour de force of the imagination and also possess a modern feel, like the Euclid.” There is a pocket in the back that once held two triangular forms and a ruler but they are missing from this copy. Item 54. $4,750.


Here is an item that would look great hanging on your wall, provided you have a wall that is 15 meters (50 feet) long. It's a scroll that measures 14.4 meters in length when unrolled. The scroll is a panorama depicting the 1833 Fetes des Vignerons (winemakers' festival) in Vevey, Switzerland. Vevey is noted as the home of Nestle, which makes excellent hot chocolate but not much in the way of wine, but the wine there must be good too. These wine festivals have been taking place since 1791, but not that often, four or five times per century. You will have a bit of a wait for the next one since the last festival was held in 2019. The scroll is composed of 30 consecutive lithographs, all hand-colored at the time of publication. The result is a continuous depiction of the procession. The artist was Christian Gottlieb Steinlen of Vevey, who was the official artist of the festival. Item 21. 15,000.


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

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Fine Books and Manuscripts
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: [Austen, Jane] — Isaac D'Israeli. Jane Austen's copy of Curiosities of Literature. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: [Austen, Jane]. A handsome first edition in boards of the author's debut novel. 70,000 - 100,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Brontë, Charlotte. "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me..." 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Eliot, George. The author's magnum opus. 25,000 - 35,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Whitman, Walt. Manuscript written upon the Death of Lincoln, 1865. 60,000 - 80,000 USD
  • Sotheby’s
    Important Modern Literature from the Library of an American Filmmaker
    8 December 2023
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Kerouac, Jack. Typescript scroll of The Dharma Bums. Typed by Kerouac in Orlando, Florida, 1957, published by Viking in 1958. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. The autograph manuscript of "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." [Key West, finished April 1936]. 300,000 - 500,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Miller, Henry. Typescript of The Last Book, a working title for Tropic of Cancer, written circa 1931–1932. 100,000 - 150,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Ruscha, Ed. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, with a lengthy inscription to Joe Goode. 40,000 - 60,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Dec. 8: Hemingway, Ernest. in our time, first edition of Hemingway’s second book. 30,000 - 50,000 USD
  • Swann
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Samuel Augustus Mitchell, A New Map of Texas, Oregon and California with the Regions Adjoining, Philadelphia, 1846. $3,500 to $5,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: 17th–19th-century case maps of various locations. $1,500 to $2,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Andreas Cellarius, Haemisphaerium Stellatum Boreale Cum Subiecto Haemisphaerio Terrestri, celestial chart, Amsterdam, 1708. $2,500 to $3,500.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Vincenzo Coronelli, Set of engraved gores for Coronelli’s monumental 42-inch terrestrial globe, Venice, circa 1688–97. $18,000 to $22,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer, group of four navigational charts, Antwerp, 1580s. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Thomas Bros, Block Book of Berkeley, Oakland, 1920s. $800 to $1,200.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Nieuhoff & John Ogilby, An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, map of China, plan of Canton, London, 1673. $1,200 to $1,800.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Frederick Sander, Reichenbachia, St. Albans, 1888-1894. $5,000 to $7,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Two early illustrated works on horsemanship and breeding, Nuremberg, early 18th century. $700 to $800.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Gould, A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans. Supplement to the First Edition, London, 1834; 1855. $40,000 to $60,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Pinkerton, A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World, London, 1808–14. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Oakley Hoopes Bailey, Hackensack, New Jersey, Boston, 1896. $800 to $1,200.
    Valuable Books and Manuscripts
    London auction
    13 December
    Find out more
    Christie’s, Explore now
    TREW, Christoph Jacob (1695–1769). Plantae Selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortus curiosorum. [Nuremberg: 1750–1773]. £30,000–40,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623–88). Liber Organicus Astronomiae Europaeae apud Sinas restituate. [Beijing: Board of Astronomy, 1674]. £250,000–350,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ALICE & NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT. Master of Jean Rolin (active 1445–65). Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, [Paris, c.1450–1460]. £120,000–180,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    A SILVER MICROSCOPE. Probably by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), c.1700. £150,000–250,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    C.1311. £100,000–150,000
  • Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Roberts (David) & Croly (George). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumae, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. Lond. 1842 - 1843 [-49]. First Edn. €10,000 to €15,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Incunabula: O'Fihily (Maurice). Duns Scotus Joannes: O'Fihely, Maurice Abp… Venice, 20th November 1497. €8,000 to €12,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: An important file of documents with provenance to G.A. Newsom, manager of the Jacob’s Factory in Dublin, occupied by insurgents during Easter Week 1916. €6,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: WILDE (Oscar), 1854-1900, playwright, aesthete and wit. A lock of Wilde’s Hair, presented by his son to the distinguished Irish actor Mícheál MacLiammóir. €6,000 to €8,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Heaney (Seamus). Bog Poems, London, 1975. Special Limited Edition, No. 33 of 150 Copies, Signed by Author. Illus. by Barrie Cooke. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Binding: Burke, Thomas O.P. (de Burgo). Hibernia Dominicana, Sive Historia Provinciae Hiberniae Ordinis Praedicatorum, ... 1762. First Edition. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: COLLINS, Michael. An important TL, 29 July 1922, addressed to GOVERNMENT on ‘suggested Proclamation warning all concerned that troops have orders to shoot prisoners found sniping, ambushing etc.’. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Scott Fitzgerald (F.) The Great Gatsby, New York (Charles Scribner's Sons) 1925, First Edn. €2,000 to €3,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Yeats (W.B.) The Poems of W.B. Yeats, 2 vols. Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949. Limited Edition, No. 46 of 375 Copies Only, Signed by W.B. Yeats. €1,500 to €2,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of the Russian Empire, Description in English and French, Lg. folio London (S. Gosnell) 1803. First Edn. €1,000 to €1,500.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of Turkey, Illustrated by a Series of Engravings. Lg. folio Lond.(T. Bensley) 1802. First Edn. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Mason (Geo. Henry). The Costume of China, Illustrated with Sixty Engravings. Lg. folio London (for W. Miller) 1800. First Edn. €1,400 to €1,800

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