April 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Jonathan A. Hill

Catalogue Review: Jonathan A. Hill, #201

'Tis the season to review the newest catalogue from New York City-based bookseller, Jonathan A. Hill. His spring catalogue celebrates (Mostly) British Agriculture and Husbandry of the 18th Century, i.e. (mostly) farming books in beautiful leather bindings. The books offered here, the catalogue notes, were "patiently gathered by a New York City collector...over a twenty-year period...[who] was fastidious about condition..."

A peruse through the color-illustrated catalogue supports that statement. Take, for example, item #44, William Marshall's Review of The Landscape, a Didactic Poem...from 1795, bound in contemporary cat's paw calf with ornamental gilt on the spine and red morocco under the lettering -- a beauty of a book ($1,250). Samuel Copeland's Agriculture Ancient and Modern..., published in 1866 and bound in the original publisher's blind- and gilt-stamped green cloth bindings is a really handsome 8-volume set of books ($950). Another fine set, bound in half russia and marbled boards, contains most of agricultural reformer Arthur Young's works in 19 volumes ($5,000). The catalogue has many editions of Young's work, including a presentation copy of Political Arithmetic ($2,500), an uncut copy of the best edition of Travels during the Years 1787, 1788, and 1789 ($950), his most influential pamphlet, The Example of France, from 1793 ($1,250).

From this side of the pond, there are George Washington's letters on agriculture, in a collected edition printed in Alexandria in 1803 ($950) and Charles Varlo's A New System of Husbandry, a substantial text about American crops and farm animals, published in Philadelphia in 1785 ($1,500).

A perfect collection of books for an English country house -- or someone who pines for one. Some of these books can be viewed online at Jonathan A. Hill's website, not yet the whole catalogue, but previous catalogues are listed there as well.