January 2013 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Buddenbrooks Rare Books

Catalogue Review: Buddenbrooks Rare Books and Manuscripts

I don't know how it has happened, but I've never had the opportunity to visit Buddenbrooks Rare Books (in Boston) or even to peruse one of their catalogues -- until now. I've been flipping through catalogue 159 all week, each time finding something incredible.

As any follower of this blog will know, I zero in on Thoreau in any catalogue, and here I found an autograph manuscript fragment, containing approximately 143 words in Thoreau's hand of an article he was writing for the Atlantic Monthly ($10,500). The content relates to his "first sight of Katadn" in Maine. Buddenbrooks also features a fine Hemingway autograph letter ($9,500) on the same page, but for me, there's no contest.

In fine bindings, two offerings gave me pause. One is a black morocco binding by Paul Bonet, gilt tooled in high Art Deco fashion--and picturing what looks like an upside-down Empire State Building made of multi-colored onlays on the spine ($24,500). The other is a set of Milne's four "Pooh" books, all first editions, bound by Bayntun-Riviere in fine full gilt decorated morocco ($17,500).

I also love the original painting by Edward J. Detmold for the cover art to The Peacock Book ($2,450). Quite a desirable piece for collectors of the popular illustrator.

In this catalogue there is no theme necessarily, but Bruddenbooks does have a nice selection of collectible bibles, including the 1634 English Bible in period calf ($2,250), the Ballantyne Press' Three-Decker in deluxe hand-tooled morocco bindings ($795), an extensively illustrated Victorian American Bible ($950), and Dore's super folio, deluxe, two-volume Bible c. 1875 ($4,950).

I know where I'm going to go next time I'm in Boston!