March 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Catalogue Review: Peter Harrington

Catalogue Review: Peter Harrington 75

75.jpgOne of FB&C's contributors sent Peter Harrington's most recent catalogue to me this week with a ringing endorsement. Many of you will recognize the name of this London rare books firm and bindery, which has been in business since 1969. Catalogue 75 runs 117 pages, showing 75 lots of manuscripts, incunabula, and first editions, in a glossy paperbound format. Indeed it is better looking than most publishers' paperbound books.

A first edition of Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy... (1621) is one of the first items in the catalogue that slows my flipping. The popular title is in handsome sprinkled calf with an ownership inscription of civic leader W. Whiteway from the year following publication (£32,500).

Just a few pages later my flipping hits a dead stop. This time caused by a manuscript record kept by Rev. H. S. Cotton of the convict executions at Newgate prison in 1812. An amazing piece of history, macabre and illicit, almost the basis for a good screenplay (£5,000). Take a look at some interior pages on Harrington's website.

The spread showing a first edition of Gray's Anatomy, twice presented to eminent doctors (£12,500), shows off the solid design of this catalogue. The images are attractive, and the well-written descriptions lengthy enough to give rich details.

There are so many high points here that a peruse feels luxurious. A Cromwell document with his autograph, the Doves Press Bible of 1903-1905 together with a specimen page from the press, a full set of the 1797 (third edition) Encyclopedia Britannica bound in diced russia, the first edition in English of Nostradamus' True Prophecies, Mary Wollstonecraft's major work uncut in original blue boards, and many others. The 1759 first edition of Candide offered near the end of the catalogue is bound in the most gorgeous mottled calf with gilt decoration on the spine (£60,000). See it here.
To download a PDF version or view the catalogue, click here.

My thanks to Peter K. Steinberg for bringing this to my attention.