March 2019 Archives

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Brexit may be in turmoil, but there is a bright spot to leaving the E.U: being able to print hyper-local money that’s backed by the national government. This year, Beatrix Potter, educational reformer Charlotte Mason, and other notable residents of the English region of Cumbria will grace various denominations of the Lake District pound (LD£), a currency launched there in 2018 to encourage local shopping and promote independent businesses.

   
“It’s been an amazing year for the project,” said Lake Currency Project founder Ken Royall in a January report by the BBC. Available at Lake District post offices and tourism centers, the currency can be swapped pound for pound with sterling and is accepted at over 350 hundred local and independent shops throughout the Lake District, a region in the northwestern region of England popular with tourists. Over 140,000 LD£S are currently in circulation.

   
Unlike standard currency which never expires, LD£S is an annual currency. The 2018 batch expired on January 31 but could be exchanged until the end of February for fresh 2019 LD£S notes. Any expired currency becomes found money for the district, helping fund community projects and maintaining the stunning landscapes that make the region such a hot tourist spot.

  
The Lake District currency is the first paper money issued with Potter’s likeness.The brightly colored banknotes were designed by artists Rebecca Gill and Cumbrian native Debbie Vayanos. Meanwhile, Potter’s charming characters like Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin have appeared on the British pound since 2016 and are coveted among numismatics. Last August, a coin collector stabbed a man to death and then stole the victim’s coin collection, which included rare Beatrix Potter 50p coins. (The murderer was recently sentenced to thirty years in prison.)

  
No need for violence here, nor must Potter collectors book a flight to Cumbria to get their hands on these: Lake District Pounds are available online.

   

Image courtesy of Lake District Currency Project

Coming to auction next month is a perfect time capsule of a collection -- that of Ambassador Alexander Weddell and his wife, Virginia Chase Steedman Weddell. Avid collectors, the Weddells filled their Richmond, Virginia, home with fine art, furniture, antiquities, and rare books. The couple died in a train wreck in 1948, and their grand residence, known as Virginia House, became a museum, where their things were preserved and largely untouched. Now, the collection is being deaccessioned by the Virginia House Museum.

Duc Freeman's.jpgWhile there is much to please the eye in this collection, I was drawn to lot 100: a Louis XIV French gilt-tooled letter document box. Why? Because it is reputed to have been owned by Philippe, Duc d’Orléans (1674-1723), a passionate artist and art collector. He amassed more than five hundred paintings in his life, including that of Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Veronese, Rembrandt, and Rubens; some have called it the greatest private collection of Western art ever assembled. The collection stayed in the family until his great-grandson needed to raise funds during the French Revolution. For art lovers like the Weddells, it must have had potent association value. At auction on April 10, it is estimated to bring $1,000-1,500.

For more particulars about the rare books on offer -- tending toward French literature, e.g., a first edition of Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in a beautiful morocco binding and an inscribed presentation copy of Émile Zola’s Mes Haines -- read this piece in our spring auction guide.

For more information about the Weddells and their home, here’s the press release from Freeman’s.

Image courtesy of Freeman’s

Our Bright Young Librarians series continues today with Alesha Shumar of the University of Tennessee - Knoxville.


Alesha-Head-shots-2015-2.jpgWhat is your role at your institution?


Assistant Head and University Archivist of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collection and University Archives at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

 

How did you get started in special collections?


My first introduction into special collections was in my undergraduate as a history major. I used a couple different manuscript collections in my research. I enjoyed it so much that I started as a student worker within my special collections throughout the rest of my undergrad career before going on to grad school. 

 

Where did you earn your MLS/advanced degree?


University of Pittsburgh, School of Library and Information Science.

 

Favorite rare book / ephemera that you’ve handled?


This is always a tough question because I have so many favorites. What I have enjoyed most recently is showing our students all of the wonderful primary resources that are available to them for their research. It is really wonderful to see their eyes light up when they are handling some of the historical materials for the first time.  

 

What do you personally collect?


Historic maps of different places I’ve traveled.

 

What do you like to do outside of work?


Living so close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I like to be outdoors hiking, biking and also paddle boarding on the Tennessee River.

 

What excites you about special collections librarianship?


Every day is different. I am constantly amazed with the diversity of collections and resources that I get to handle, process and teach with on a daily basis.

 

Thoughts on the future of special collections librarianship?


I feel that the future of special collections librarianship is bright. We have a library school at the University of Tennessee and the interest has tripled in the number of students wanting to work in special collections or complete a practicum with our department. We have has numerous student workers go on to get their masters and become archivists and special collections curators at institutions across the country. 

 

Any unusual or interesting collection at your library you’d like to draw our attention to?


An interesting and unusual area of research at the University of Tennessee is in the field of Forensic Anthropology. We house the papers of Dr. William M. Bass III. Dr. Bass  is a well-known forensic anthropologist focused on human osteology and human decomposition made famous for creating the Anthropology Research Facility, colloquially known as the Body Farm. The research conducted at the Body Farm is world renowned and has forever change the study of Forensic Anthropology. His research papers, which cover Dr. Bass’ more than 60 years as a professor and researcher, include personal and professional correspondence, publications and material related to the creation of the Body Farm.   

 

Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?


We are currently preparing to celebrate the University of Tennessee Knoxville 225th Anniversary. We are completely revamping the timeline on the university website, rolling out a brand new university focused digital encyclopedia named Volopedia after our mascot the Tennessee Volunteer. We also have events and exhibits planned throughout the year to celebrate the history and legacy of the University of Tennessee.  


[Photo credit: UT Libraries]

 













Back in January, we told you about the Beinecke Library’s current exhibition, Bibliomania; or Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance. Today we’re taking a closer look at one section of that exhibition, a collaborative project between the Beinecke and the Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin, and curated by Kathryn James, Early Modern and Osborn Curator at the Beinecke, and Aaron Pratt, Pforzheimer Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at the Ransom Center. Collated & Perfect, an exhibit within an exhibit, takes its name from the phrase that actor and playbook collector John Philip Kemble inscribed into his books in the early nineteenth century. What, the curators ask, “does it mean to ‘collate’? What does it mean for a book to be ‘perfect?’”

A supplementary pamphlet (freely available online and as a downloadable PDF) provides an accessible overview of these bibliographical topics. James undertakes a description of collation from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and examines the “ways in which collation was defined and used to stabilize an English textual heritage framed by an originating loss.” Charlton Hinman, who invented a mechanical collator in order to compare copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio (and publish an “ideal” facsimile), is one of her five main examples. Pratt then takes on the idea of “Perfect,” describing Kemble’s habit of aggressively trimming and rehousing his playbooks in an attempt to enforce his idea of perfection, even discarding leaves he deemed unnecessary -- thus making it “imperfect” in the eyes of today’s collectors. Pratt also traces booksellers’ use of “perfect” in this context to the late sixteenth century and considers the history of “made-up” or “sophisticated” books.

In February, the Ransom Center held a related panel discussion between James, Pratt, and Megan Heffernan, assistant professor English at DePaul University. In his introduction, Pratt sets the tone, saying, “...What the books that survive today themselves make clear is that what has counted as a ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ copy of an old book, or the text it transmits, was far from stable, changing from one generation to the next, especially once elite collecting really ramped up in the nineteenth century. I think all of the speakers here today believe that tracking these changes is important if we want to develop robust narratives about literary and cultural history.” It’s now available to watch in full:

  


Yale’s exhibition closes on April 21, but the Ransom Center’s Stories to Tell exhibition will remain on view through August 11.

A very busy auction week coming up!

  

On Tuesday, March 26, Koller Auctions in Zurich will sell 274 lots of books, and an additional 63 lots of manuscripts & autographs. Among the former, a 1726 French-Latin edition of Maria Sibylla Merian’s work on the insects of Suriname, bound with a 1730 edition of her book on European insects is expected to lead the way, estimated at about $60,000-90,000. An illuminated Franciscan Book of Hours from around 1460 rates the top estimate among the manuscripts, at $70,000-90,000.

  

Bonhams London will sell Fine Books, Manuscripts, Atlases & Historical Photographs on Wednesday, March 27, in 263 lots. Highlights are expected to include the manuscript marriage contract between Edward III and Philippa of Hainault (£100,000-150,000); an Alan Turing letter to Lionel March about linear and group algebras (£40,000-60,000); and a first impression of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, this copy once owned by J.K. Rowling’s literary agent (£40,000-60,000). Other lots of note: 175 pages of the manuscript of Wodehouse’s Psmith Journalist (£20,000-30,000) and a presentation sample of penicillin given by Alexander Fleming to Miss Inger Knop (£6,000-8,000; pictured below).

fleming.pngAlso on Wednesday, Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Photos, Books & Relics at University Archives, in 276 lots. A January 1801 letter from Thomas Jefferson to his assistant overseer at Monticello rates the top estimate, at $35,000-45,000. A lengthy Davy Crockett letter from May 1830 is estimated at $30,000-35,000, as is a letter from Jefferson Davis accepting his selection as provisional president of the Confederate States.

  

Four sales to watch on Thursday, March 28:

  

- Printed & Manuscript African-Americana at Swann Galleries, in 405 lots. A collection of correspondence to John Augustine Washington III relating to Mount Vernon and other Washington estates is expected to sell for $20,000-30,000. Benjamin Banneker’s 1796 almanac could fetch $15,000-25,000, while a first edition of Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects (1773) is estimated at $15,000-20,000.

  

- At Chiswick Auctions, 246 lots of Books & Illustrated Art, including Cartoons.

  

- Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper at Forum Auctions, in 365 lots. A large-paper copy of the 1669 Amsterdam edition of Athanasius Kircher’s Ars Magna Sciendi in an absolutely stunning contemporary presentation binding to Jesuit leader Giovanni Paolo Oliva is estimated at £20,000-30,000. At the same estimate range are a first edition of Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme and a mid-1620s manuscript volume of chess problems by Gioachino Greco.

  

- Kestenbaum & Company sell Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts & Maps, in 190 lots. The 1469-72 Rome edition of Nachmanides’ commentary on the Pentateuch, described by Moses Marx as the first printed Hebrew book, is expected to sell for $200,000-250,000. A complete copy of the 1490 Naples edition of Nachmanides’ treatise on the afterlife Sha’ar HaGemul and a late thirteenth-century manuscript prayer book for Passover are each estimated at $80,000-100,000. Many other important manuscripts and early printed books here.

  

Finally, Addison & Sarova will sell 352 lots of Rare Books & Manuscripts in All Fields on Friday, March 30.

   

Image credit: Bonhams

On February 28, highlights from Lisa Unger Baskin’s nearly 9,000-piece collection of rare books, ephemera, and other artifacts created and produced by women over the course of five hundred years went on display at Duke University, which acquired the collection in 2015 and incorporated it into its Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at the David M. Rubenstein Library.

  

“The unifying thread is that women have always been productive and working people and this history essentially has been hidden,” Baskin said, who began building the collection in the 1960s and when, as she put it “there was little interest in the historical record of the achievements of women.” Her collection reveals the long hidden--but thoroughly essential--world of women’s work, of which the exhibition offers a tantalizing glimpse.


Baskin parchment.jpgAmong the items on display are a scribal parchment dated March 9, 1240 which documents the execution of a bequest for a home for repentant prostitutes in Pisa, Italy. An example of a book printed in 1745 by the widow of a successful Mexico City-based printer shows that women could work the presses just as well as men, while striking Art Nouveau bindings by Sarah Prideaux reveal that artist’s innate talent for the craft. (Prideaux did not become a professional bookbinder until her thirties.)


Prideaux.jpgThe show is open to the public at Duke through June 15 before heading to the Grolier Club, where it will be on display December 11, 2019 through February 8, 2020. Visitors need not be upset if they can’t make it to Durham or Manhattan in either of those time frames: the entire exhibition, including a video interview with Baskin, is available online.

  

Images: (Top) Grant of land in Pisa, Italy, to Frater Baldiccione, signed Ildenbrandinus de Navacchio, 9 March 1240, [Italy]: 9 March 1240, Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. (Bottom) Lefroy, Edward Cracroft, Echoes from Theocritus, and Other Sonnets, London: Elliot Stock, 1885, [Binding by Sarah Prideaux] Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Want a little perspective on how artists and scientists have turned their ideas into three-dimensional graphic form over the last 500 years? Thinking 3D: From Leonardo to the Present, an exhibition that opens today at the Bodleian Libraries, aims to provide it, showcasing books, manuscripts, drawings, and prints that illustrate the challenge of communicating three dimensions on two-dimensional media. According to a press release, “Thinking 3D shows how technological advances, from the invention of the printing press and new illustration techniques to photography, stereoscopy and 3D modeling, have allowed authors and artists to share their ideas with the world.”

We asked the exhibitions co-curators, Daryl Green, librarian at Magdalen College, Oxford, and Dr. Laura Moretti, senior lecturer in art history at the University of St. Andrews, to tell us more about this exciting fusion of art and science.

Thinking3D+Max+Bruckner+polyhedral+models copy.jpgTell us about the idea behind this exhibition? Did it originate in wanting to celebrate Leonardo da Vinci’s quincentennial?

Leonardo wasn’t the initial protagonist of Thinking 3D, but he certainly anchored our exhibition at the Bodleian from a very early stage. Thinking 3D is a research project which we established which looks at the history and development of communicating three-dimensional observations and concepts. Understanding how Leonardo perceived and transmitted the three-dimensional world is the seed from which Thinking 3D has grown. Leonardo’s work will be the opening protagonist of the exhibition at the Weston Library, considering his ways of observing, analysing and communicating on paper the reality around him. However, aside from one contribution, Leonardo’s work wouldn’t be seen by a printing press until the 17th century.

The Bodleian exhibition, Thinking 3D: From Leonardo to the Present, is the hub which provides context to a pan-Oxford project will then look at the influence the rise and development of three-dimensionality on artists, mathematicians, draughtsmen, and designers over the last 500 years, via partner exhibitions, talks, symposia and conferences. Categories such as geometry, mathematics, architecture, astronomy, and natural and physical sciences will constitute the themes of the satellite exhibitions and public events.

Thinking+3D+Leonardo+arm+sketch+credit+Royal+Collection+Trust copy.jpgWhat is the Codescope, and what role does it play in the exhibition?

The Codescope is a cutting-edge tool to explore one of Leonardo’s most concise notebooks, the Codex Leicester, now owned by Bill Gates. You can see him talking about it here. The Bodliean exhibition is the first time in the UK that the Codescope will be publicly available, complementing loans from Leonardo’s notebooks to the exhibition held by the Royal Collections and the British Library. It, like the physical notebook sheets, show how complex Leonardo’s thinking was in grappling with issues of three dimensionality, and how his ideas, if published, would have changed scientific thinking from the late 15th century.

Thinking+3D+colloseum copy.jpgDo you have a favorite piece in the exhibition? Tell us about it.

Laura: my favorite piece is Serlio’s Third Book on Architecture (1544 edition). We show in the case his representation of the Colosseum in Rome (pictured above). What I find particular brilliant here is the way in which Serlio and the publisher Francesco Marcolini managed to put on the surface of two pages such great level of detail and information about this extremely complex building. I trained as an architectural historian, and Serlio’s books on architecture were revolutionary for the discipline. I have been studying them through my entire career as a scholar, and seeing one of them out there is great.

Daryl: It’s hard to choose, but the book which embodies Thinking 3D the most is probably Kepler’s Mysterium Cosmographicum. In grappling with understanding the relational distance between heavenly bodies, Kepler applied the five platonic solids and their relationship to each other to explain what his calculations found. The illustration that he devised has been seen regularly and is a fantastic example of applying the geometrical lens to the wider world. However, for this exhibition we also wanted to see if we could actually bring Kepler’s model to life. With the help of a local company, Thinksee3D, we did!
  

***

  

In addition to those pictured here, highlights of the exhibition include extraordinary anatomical books that used flaps and pop-up features to educate people about the human body; illustrations of the moon that Galileo produced based on his first observations of the lunar surface through a telescope in 1609; and the first geological map of Mars produced from data from NASA’s Mariner 9 mission in 1971-72. Thinking 3D is on view through February 9, 2020.

Images: (Top) Max Brückner’s polyhedral models in the book Polygons and Polyhedra: Theory and History (Vielecke und Vielflache: Theorie und Geschichte) by Max Brückner, 1900. Image credit: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. (Middle) Leonardo da Vinci’s sketch of an arm, from the working notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, now in the Royal Collection. Image credit: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019. (Bottom) Sebastiano Serlio’s magnum opus was a seven-volume series on the theory and history of architecture. Here, in his Third Book (1544), we see dissections of the Colosseum in Rome, a two-page spread depicting a full floor-plan, perspective drawings, and face-on illustrations. Image credit: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Ferlinghetti.jpgLawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, publisher, activist, and painter will turn 100 on March 24. To celebrate that significant milestone in a long and varied life, Ferlinghetti’s famous San Francisco bookshop City Lights will be hosting a birthday party open to the public. 


Everyone is welcome at City Lights (261 Columbus Avenue) between 1:00 and 5:00 on Sunday, March 24, to honor the life of Ferlinghetti, who is perhaps best known for first publishing Alan Ginsburg’s classic Beat poem Howl in 1956. Ferlinghetti was subsequently arrested for that act, which in turn led to a lengthy trial around the First Amendment.


City Lights, which was co-founded by Ferlinghetti in 1953, will host a variety of Bay Area writers and artists at the birthday celebration who will read selections from Ferlinghetti’s poetry. Photos and video screenings from his life will also be on display during what the mayor of San Francisco has officially declared to be “Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day.” 


Nearby institutions will also be hosting related events. Here is a complete calendar:


Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 100th birthday party: 1-5 p.m. March 24. City Lights, 261 Columbus Ave., S.F. www.citylights.com


“Little Boy” book release party: 7 p.m. March 21. Free. City Lights, 261 Columbus Ave., S.F. www.citylights.com


“Ferlinghetti in Photographs”: On view March 1-28. Free. Canessa Gallery, 708 Montgomery St., S.F. canessa.org


“Lawrence Ferlinghetti: A Life in Poetry”: A documentary by Giada Diano, plus fine-press limited letterpress Ferlinghetti books produced by Arion Press on view March 24. Free. Canessa Gallery, 708 Montgomery St., S.F. canessa.org


“Lawrence Ferlinghetti: 100 Years Without a Net”: A solo show of his paintings on view March 2-April 7. Free. Rena Branstein Gallery, 1275 Minnesota St., S.F. renabranstengallery.com


A celebration of Ferlinghetti’s life: Featuring Aggie Falk, Jack Hirschman, Devorah Major, Alejandro Murgia, Dean Rader, Kim Shuck and others. 1 p.m. March 17. Free. San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St., S.F. sfpl.org


“Ferlinghetti”: A documentary by Chris Felver. 1:30-3:30 p.m. March 23. $13. Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., S.F. roxie.com


[Image from Wikipedia. Photo taken by voxtheory]












There are few authors more revered among bibliophiles than Jorge Luis Borges, poet, philosopher, and director of the Biblioteca Nacional de la Republica Argentina. So when a Borges manuscript appears at auction, we take note. On March 27, Bonhams in London will offer this three-page autograph manuscript signed of Borges’ prologue to the Spanish translation of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles (Ediciones Minotauro, 1955). Yes, Borges devotees will have to bid it out against Bradbury buffs for this piece of literary history, in which Borges writes: “What has this man from Illinois created - I ask myself, closing the pages of his book - that his episodes of the conquest of another planet fill me with such terror and solitude?”

Borges 1 copy.jpgThe manuscript comes to auction from the family of Ediciones Minotauro publisher Francisco (Paco) Porrua. In this case, Porrua was also the book’s pseudonymous translator. It is estimated to realize £6,000-8,000 ($7,900-11,000).

Image courtesy of Bonhams

Four sales to watch this week:

  

On Tuesday, March 19, Chiswick Auctions holds a Photographica sale, in 180 lots all by the same avant-garde photographer: Francis Joseph Bruguière (1879-1945). 

  

At ALDE in Paris on Wednesday, March 20, Éditions Originales du XIXe au XXie Siècle, in 298 lots. Among the top-estimated lots are first editions of Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme (€30,000-40,000) and Le Rouge et le Noir (€20,000-30,000); a twenty-volume edition of Balzac’s works, bound by Victor Champs (€10,000-12,000); and a five-volume set of Poe’s works (Paris, 1856-1865), translated by Baudelaire (€3,000-4,000).

  

Swann Galleries sells 256 lots of Autographs on Thursday, March 21. Expected to lead the way at $20,000-30,000 is a May 1776 letter from Joseph Brant (Thayeadanegea), written to an unknown correspondent from Falmouth as Brant prepared to return to America after being in London. Other interesting lots include a 1950-1956 guestbook from New York’s Luchow Restaurant ($8,000-12,000); and six letters from Princess Diana to editor Elizabeth Tilberis ($5,000-7,000).

  

Cohen.jpgAlso on Thursday, PBA Galleries holds a Fine Literature sale, in 366 lots. A presentation copy of Leonard Cohen’s first book, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956) rates the top estimate, at $8,000-12,000 (pictured above). A first edition of A Wrinkle in Time, with the first state dust jacket (1962), could sell for $3,000-5,000, and a collection of sixty-eight typed poems by George Sterling is estimated at $2,000-3,000. A copy of the first American edition of A Study in Scarlet (ex-library in a modern fine binding) could also sell for $2,000-3,000.

  

Image credit: PBA Galleries

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Turn to any page of the recently published, two-volume, folio-size Catalog of the Cotsen Children’s Library: The Nineteenth Century  -- say, page 24 of volume II -- and the bibliographical detail accompanying each entry and illustration are case studies in thoroughness. In my case, page 24 reveals a charming, full-page, illustration of Theodore Léfèvre’s Bébé saurait bientôt lire (approx. 1880), a hand-colored wood engraving frontispiece for an elementary reader.


This project didn’t come together overnight; for over twenty years, a team of dedicated librarians and staff at the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University have been fastidiously compiling a complete catalogue of that library’s research material. To put it mildly, this has been no small undertaking. Out of the nearly 100,000 items donated by Princeton alumnus (‘50) and Neutrogena executive Lloyd Cotsen, 23,000 non-circulating items spanning the 15th through the 20th century and written in thirty languages will ultimately be included in the multi-volume compendium.

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Included in the Nineteenth Century are descriptions of 6,370 children’s books in the library’s holdings and 270 full-color illustrations. Titles were selected for this publication based on their illustrations or their representation of a particular style or development. As the focus is on the 19th century, work by well-known illustrators like Charles Perrault and Kate Greenaway figure prominently, as do examples of then-revolutionary printing and illustrating techniques.


These lavender, gilt-stamped cloth volumes are arranged alphabetically, with each entry given meticulous bibliographic detail. The pair is being sold through Oak Knoll Press for $250. Nineteenth Century joins the Cotsen’s earlier two-volume catalogue, published in 2000 and 2003, chronicling the library’s 20th-century holdings. A final, two-volume project is in the works that will examine the Cotsen’s children’s books dating from the 1400s through 1801.


Among some of the treasures in the Cotsen’s holdings include picture letters by Beatrix Potter, incunables, drawings by Edward Lear, and even an early-Coptic schoolbook. Though the Cotsen collection is non-circulating, the library hosts an array of impressive virtual exhibitions using its holdings. 

  

Images courtesy of Oak Knoll

In case you missed it on CBS Sunday Morning earlier this week, Kentucky’s Larkspur Press was profiled, showing owner Gray Zeitz lovingly making books by hand on a 1915 hand-press. Larkspur prints and binds editions of 300-500, some for famous KY authors like Wendell Berry and Bobbie Ann Mason.  

As reported this morning by Shelf Awareness, soon after the segment aired Frankfort’s Capital Gallery of Contemporary Art, run by artist Ellen Glasgow, was inundated with orders, posting on Facebook: “Folks! We are overwhelmed with the response to the CBS Sunday Morning story! At this time we do not have an online shop... BUT if you call (502) 223-2649 and leave a message, Ellen will get you taken care of!!” Another bookseller, Kelly Estep of Carmichael’s Bookstores in Louisville also reported having received 200 orders for Larkspur Press books after the CBS piece ran.

What heartening news for private presses around the country! Plus a nice s/o to the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, Colorado. Watch here:



Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 8.30.03 AM.pngBritish booksellers Deborah Coltham and Laura Massey (a previous entry in our Bright Young Booksellers series) have collaborated on a milestone rare book catalogue issued last week: A Hunger of the Mind: Four Centuries of Women and Science. The catalogue highlights women’s connections with STEM fields over four centuries, containing high-points by such luminaries as Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, and Rachel Carson, as well as a wide variety of selections from lesser-known women who weren’t households names but made important contributions to their field. Popular science writers, eductators, translators, entrepreneurs, explorers, and activists round out the catalogue.


The catalogue’s title is from a quotation by astronomer Maria Mitchell (19th c): “We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.”


“We love how well this mirrors the theme of the catalogue, showing that the same sentiments which drive male scientists - curiosity and wonder - apply equally to women”, said Coltham in a press release.


“Our goal for this catalogue is to show that women have always been involved in scientific enterprises, often despite great obstacles, and this hidden history is now being uncovered by pioneering historians, librarians, and book collectors,” continued Coltham.


Massey added, “The history of science is frequently presented as a story of men and a handful of really remarkable women. That’s simply not the case, as this catalogue demonstrates. Even when women weren’t allowed into the ranks of professional researchers, they found other ways to participate, for instance by writing popular science books or collecting specimens.”


The catalogue is currently available as a PDF on both booksellers’ websites, (visit Coltham here and Massey here), with paper copies to be issued in the coming weeks.






Rockwell Kent was on my mind owing to our new spring issue’s feature story about the time when Rockwell Kent, Rex Stout, and Egmont Arens teamed up to publish Casanova’s memoir in the states, where it was still banned. So I was perhaps pre-disposed to notice Ken Lopez’s display of a Rockwell Kent archive, at the ABAA fair on Friday, that included Kent’s own copy of the unbound sheets of Candide, a project he undertook after Casanova. And then, at the NYC Book & Ephemera Fair (the “Satellite Fair”) on Saturday, I spied a manuscript about Casanova written by Arthur Symons, who wrote the introduction for the Kent-Stout-Arens edition of 1925. The Old New York Book Shop in Atlanta, Georgia, was offering it for $3,000. How’s that for bibliophilic serendipity?

Casanova copy.jpg
Back at the Armory, there was another reminder of our current issue: Verona’s Bibliopathos was showing the tattoo bookbindings of Aarom von Hemmersbach. Aarom’s bindings (which sold, I’m happy to report) are created using an innovative tattooing technique -- he’s a tattoo artist in Winnipeg, Canada, after all.

Evening-Whitmore.jpg
Over at Whitmore Rare Books, I was drawn in by the pretty binding on Evenings with the Stars (1924). I learned that the author, Mary Proctor, a Columbia-educated scientist, brought astronomy to the masses with hundreds of articles and lectures on the night sky. It was priced at $2,750.

Vietnam Nurse.jpeg
Two things I noted at the ABAA fair this year: new stuff and (some) affordable prices. By “new stuff,” I mean I didn’t see twenty copies of the first edition of Malamud’s The Natural as I have in past years. In the inexpensive and cool, but not-in-my-collecting-scope category, was Vietnam Nurse, a pulp romance from 1966 written under a pseudonym by poet Fanny Howe, offered by Brian Cassidy, Bookseller for $125.

Monstrorum.jpg
While others eyed Gutenberg’s Mainz Catholicon (c.1469) at Liber Antiquus, my personal favorite of theirs was a first edition of Monstrorum historia (1642), “the first treatise on teratology, the study of deformities and monsters.” A large, illustrated folio, it was bewitching. Price: $25,000. 

Eiffel.jpg
At $1.5 million, Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps had the showstopper, though: an archive of drawings and blueprints for the Statue of Liberty from Établissements Eiffel, 1880-1883.  

Two final favorites: At the ABAA fair, Battledore had Kate Greenaway’s lovely memorial ring, an 18-karat gold and hair-work piece, and, at the Satellite Show, Brenner’s Books had an advanced reader’s edition of the The Blackboard Jungle (1954) by Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain. That title is special to me because I worked with Hunter on a reprint edition of The Blackboard Jungle a few years before his death in 2005.

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We--the husband and I--also picked up two decorated publishers’ bindings at this fair, one from Mosher Books, another from Austin Abbey Rare Books (pictured above).

Still want to see more highlights from NY? Check out the round-ups published by the New York Times and Lit Hub.

Images: (Top, Casanova) Credit: Rebecca Rego Barry; (Middle, Evening) Courtesy of Whitmore Rare Books; (Middle, Vietnam) Courtesy of Brian Cassidy; (Middle, Monstrorum), Courtesy of Liber Antiquus; (Middle, Eiffel) Credit: Brett Barry; (Bottom, Thoreau) Credit: Brett Barry.

A busy week coming up in the salerooms:

  

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 4.55.52 PM.pngToday at Bonhams New York, 405 lots from the Medical & Scientific Library of W. Bruce Fye. I’ll have more on this sale in the next print issue, but some expected highlights include an important association copy of the first edition of Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica (1543), from the library of Augsburg physician Achilles Pirmin Gasser ($300,000-500,000); a second edition of Vesalius (1555), estimated at $30,000-40,000; and a first issue of Hooke’s Micrographia ($30,000-40,000). More from Rebecca’s post last week.

  

The second part of Fye’s library, consisting of 749 lots, will be sold in an online auction starting on Tuesday, March 12 and extending through March 21.

  

Bonhams New York will also hold a sale of Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts on Tuesday. A huge range of fascinating lots in this one, from the Estelle Doheny copy of Leaves of Grass, which is signed by Whitman and was used as his working copy ($200,000-300,000) to an Apple-1 motherboard ($100,000-150,000). Isaac Newton’s copy of John Greaves’ Pyramidographia (1646) could sell for $50,000-70,000, while a collection of Harper Lee drawings and letters is estimated at $20,000-30,000. There are any number of lots in this sale that I would be very unsurprised to see far exceed expectations, so it will be fascinating to see what happens.

  

Doyle New York’s online sale of Travel & Sport in India from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson (336 lots) ends on Wednesday, March 14, as does Bonhams’ online auction of Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection (266 lots).

  

On Friday, March 15, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sells a portion of the Adventure & Exploration Library of Steve Fossett, in 296 lots. A copy of the first London edition of Lewis & Clark’s Travels (1814) is estimated at $6,000-8,000, and a first edition of James Bruce’s Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (1790), could sell for $3,000-5,000.

  

Image credit: Bonhams

Though the barometer may suggest otherwise, one of the telltale signs of spring in New York is the annual arrival of Rare Book Week, going on now through March 12. Besides the various pearls for sale among the well-stocked stacks at the three book and ephemera fairs, holding court around Manhattan are a slew of shows and exhibitions dedicated to celebrating the people and things of the book world. One that serious bibliophiles should not miss is the Grolier Club’s exhibition of Pat Pistner’s miniature bindings and books, now on view in the second floor gallery.

   

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The 275-item installation--a misleading number, given that some items, like the 42-volume set of Sherlock Holmes mysteries is counted as one piece--spans the history of texts written on a diminutive scale. A miniature Babylonian cuneiform tablet accounting “plucked” sheep dating from approximately 2340 BCE shares space with sumptuous illuminated Books of Hours and contemporary artists’ books by Timothy Ely and Nancy Gifford. From an archive that currently includes 4,000 items, the Naples, Florida-based bibliophile whittled down her selections to those she said best represented the considerable historical scope of her collection.

   
“Collecting is so personal,” Pistner told a group during a Wednesday lunchtime tour of the exhibition, which she led along with co-curator Jan Storm van Leeuwen. “Some people focus on one element, but I’ve chosen to take a much broader view, with the goal of collecting the best possible examples of miniature bindings from across history.”

   
Out of so many tiny treasures bound in gold, silver, and other precious elements, can Pistner possibly have a favorite? “I love all of them, but these are perhaps my most prized,” she said, gesturing to a case containing 16th-century miniatures from France and Italy. She graciously posed for a photograph holding up a liturgical miniature called the Enchiridion p[re] clare ecclesie Sarum, a 1528 tome hailing from the collection of Charles Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Parma. The text dates to the 16th century, but the binding was by Pierre Marcellin Lortic, a 19th-century binder.

  

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Another, less dramatic (but no less significant) prize sits in a wall case in the hallway: a miniature printing of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Issued in 1862, the unassuming single-section pamphlet in tan paper is Lincoln’s preliminary proclamation freeing the slaves and the first printing in book form of the text. In a hurried effort to spread the word, 50,000 copies of this mini were distributed by Union soldiers to African Americans as they marched through the South. “Not many remain in existence,” Pistner explained. This one, like nearly every other item in the exhibition, is an exquisite example, all a reminder of the major role miniature books play in understanding the history of the written word.

  

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“A Matter of Size,” is on view now through May 19. Free lunchtime exhibition tours led by the curator will be held on April 24 at 1 pm and May 18 at 3 pm. No reservations necessary. The accompanying 476-page, fully-illustrated catalogue ($95, Oak Knoll) is a meticulously compiled resource that covers the breadth of Pistner’s collection as well as its place in the bibliosphere. 

  

Images: Top two photos courtesy of the author; bottom, coutesy of Oak Knoll

As readers of this blog will recall, antiquarian medical books are a particular interest of mine, so it was great fun to browse the catalogue of Bonhams’ upcoming auction of the medical and scientific library of Dr. W. Bruce Fye. (I also listened to an engaging lecture Fye gave last year in which he talks at length about book collecting and bibliomania. He donated about 15,000 volumes to the Mayo Clinic, and still has thousands left to divest.) Next week’s sale will offer up 351 items; there are too many superlatives to feature fully -- Darwin, Descartes, Curie, Cushing, Hooke, Nightingale, Pasteur, Rush -- so I have limited myself to just eight highlights.

Bigelow.pngThe name Henry Bigelow may not ring a bell, and yet, he was the first to describe the use of ether anesthesia in this original Boston Medical and Surgical Journal article “Insensibility During Surgical Operations Produced by Inhalation” (1846). It is estimated at $4,000-6,000.

Gray.pngHenry Gray, on the other hand, is a household name, as in Gray’s Anatomy. What we have here is a c. 1850s letter by Gray asking about a medical course he wished to take. The estimate is $1,000-1,500.

Hope.pngBecause it showcases the beauty of nineteenth-century illustrated medical books, here is a first edition of James Hope’s Principles and Illustrations of Morbid Anatomy (1834), with 260 hand-colored images. It is estimated at $2,000-3,000.

Jenner.pngConsidering the recent measles outbreaks, it seems a good time to recall early vaccination proponent Edward Jenner and his 1798 classic, An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae... which is estimated at $20,000-30,000. The sale also includes a Jenner manuscript letter.

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 9.55.50 AM.pngThere are three lots related to Joseph Lister in the sale. His “Observations on Ligature on the Antiseptic System,” published in the Lancet in 1869, speaks to his pioneering ideas about the application of germ theory to surgery. (A recent biography asserts that Lister “transformed surgery from a butchering art to a modern science.”) It is estimated at $1,500-2,500.

Vesalius.jpgIt would be negligent to skip the high point of the sale: a first edition, association copy of Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica... (1543). To read more about it, click here. It is estimated at $300,000-500,000.

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 10.05.25 AM.pngThe William Osler first editions, presentation copies, and letters caught my attention because, in our current issue, IU Lilly Library’s Joel Silver provides a wonderful Osler overview. This lot, a book titled The Old Humanities and the New Science (1920), is particularly eye-catching, as it pictures Osler examining the 1538 edition of Vesalius’s Epitome. It is estimated at $3,000-4,000.

Baskin.pngIn more modern offerings, don’t miss Leonard Baskin’s stunning folio of illustrations, Ars Anatomica: A Medical Fantasia (1972), estimated at $600-800.

Images via Bonhams

Our Bright Young Booksellers series continues today with Erik DuRon and Jess Kuronen, new proprietors of Left Bank Books in New York City, set to reopen in a new Greenwich Village location this month.

 

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 8.16.56 AM.pngHow did you get started in rare books?

 

Erik: I answered a help wanted ad in the back of the Village Voice. This was in the late 90s. I had done bookish jobs in NYC for ten years after college: assistant to a literary agent, admin work for a book packager, retrospective card catalog conversion at the Butler Library at Columbia University, and most saliently, sales clerk at the old St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village. I was about to turn 30 and was ready to sink my teeth into something. Bauman Rare Books, which was based out of Philadelphia, happened to be expanding their New York presence just then with their Madison Avenue location. I went in for an interview, and ended up working there 14 years, first as a sales associate, then as a manager. It was my school.

 

Jess: It’s my mom’s fault. She’s a photographer and designer who ran an offset press for artist’s books, first in Chicago and then in Philadelphia, so I was introduced to the idea of “the book as an object” pretty early. I landed my first bookish job at the old Left Bank Books, on 8th Avenue, as I was pursuing my BFA at The Cooper Union. The Left Bank employees used to come into the coffee shop I worked at next door. The manager was complaining about interviewing prospective employees, so I convinced him to hire me and call it a day...somehow that worked. It was my first introduction to the world of bookselling, and it quickly became clear to me that I should stay in it.

 

Tell us a bit about the history of Left Bank Books. When did you take over? What do you currently specialize in?

 

Left Bank Books began as a neighborhood used bookshop in Greenwich Village in the early 90s (first as Book Leaves, then Left Bank around 2005, with the first of several changes in ownership). For a variety of reasons, it was forced to close in 2016. We met while working there, which we each did for a year, and like everyone else in the neighborhood were really sad to see it go. We kept in touch, and a year later decided to revive it. We had some ideas about inventory selection and digital marketing we believed would make the business more up-to-date and viable. We started as an online shop, specializing in literature and the arts, with an emphasis on used and rare books we felt spoke to the culture in a fresh, sometimes irreverent way; we built a better website than previously, and established a social media presence. We also did fairs, which Left Bank hadn’t done before. Sometime after that we began talking seriously about an open shop, but only recently did it become a realistic possibility for us. Things have moved quickly - we expect to re-open in late March in our new Village location at 41 Perry Street. The shop - about half the size of the old space at roughly 250 square feet - will showcase an eclectic selection from the 20th and 21st centuries (and occasionally earlier), encompassing literature, art, film, photography, fashion, architecture, design, music, theater, dance, children’s books, and New York City. We look forward to reimagining what a small, well-curated neighborhood bookshop can be, and in time expect to host events and exhibits. We want to be a destination for seasoned collectors, emerging enthusiasts, and curious newcomers the world over.

 

How do you split your roles at Left Bank?

 

Erik: We both do a little of everything. With my deeper background in the trade I tend to do more of the traditional “bookman” things, like buying and cataloging, while Jess handles the design and digital side, but really we meet in the middle and teach each other along the way.

 

What do you love about the book trade?

 

Erik: First and foremost the books, and the opportunity every day to see things I’ve never seen before, as well as old favorites. I love buying, which satisfies most of the urges I might have as a collector, and going where people live to do so. You get fascinating insights interacting with people compelled by a particular set of circumstances to sell books. Sometimes you’re a peripheral figure walking into a scene of residual distress, in the case of a death in the family, for instance, or a divorce or bankruptcy. In those instances I try to provide calm, professional assistance in cleaning up a little bit of the aftermath. Other times, as when you’re dealing with an older collector deaccessioning, it’s an opportunity to be a willing and eager listener to stories that might not otherwise be heard.

 

Jess: I agree with Erik (and every other person in the trade); I love the books. I love the daily possibility of seeing, holding, and learning about new material. Looking at new books affords, even encourages, micro-obsessions that eventually culminate in more new books.  

 

Describe a typical day for you:

 

Our days right now are all about L-brackets, and the right hardware for suspending plexi shelves, and figuring out the wattage on LED bulbs, and getting up to speed on our point-of-sale system and how the damn thing is going to interface with our database, and a million other tiresome but crucial details.

 

Favorite rare book (or ephemera) that you’ve handled?

 

Erik: Working at BRB I was privileged to be able to handle a high volume of amazing highspots: Shakespeare folios and quartos, early Americana, major works in the sciences, inscribed Joyces and Hemingways and Fitzgeralds. My favorite thing, though, or one of them at least, I didn’t strictly speaking handle (or did, for a total of like 30 seconds). It was a presentation copy of Zola’s 1885 novel Germinal inscribed to Guy de Maupassant, one French Naturalist to another, being offered for sale. I made a regrettably low offer and quickly saw it walk out the door. I haven’t forgotten it since, or the lesson.

 

Jess: In the basement of The Cooper Union is The Herb Lubalin Center of Design & Typography, definitely a hidden gem at the school. The core collection is an extensive archive of Lubalin’s work, including original drawings and design paste-ups (pre-digital artifacts for someone who had grown up with Apple). They have a copy of New York Is... (1959), a collection of photographs Robert Frank took for the New York Times, mostly for promotions to drum up the paper’s ad sales. They also had the original proofs for the ads, using the photo Frank took the year before The Americans published. It was a right book/right place/right time situation; I had just graduated art school, I was about to start my first job in journalism and was trying to figure out how to stay in the book trade.  

 

What do you personally collect?

 

Erik: Any and every edition I can find of books by a handful of writers who for one reason or another have become lodged in my literary value system: Flaubert, Kafka, Isaac Babel, Tanizaki, Rachel Kushner, a few others.

 

Jess: If there’s a theme to my collecting, I’m not sure what it is. It’s more a bunch of half-started collections meant to justify buying one or two books I fell in love with. A friend and I started a slightly facetious collection we call “Quick, capitalism is coming!” that includes anything with the wacky aesthetics of Wall Street.

 

What do you like to do outside of work?

 

Erik: Read, go to the movies, hear live music, run, eat and drink.

 

Jess: I just switch to my other career as a digital designer at The Wall Street Journal, so you know, think about what typeface says “what the hell is going on?!”.

 

Thoughts on the present state and/or future of the rare book trade?

 

Look at all of the intelligent, energetic and optimistic booksellers you have interviewed for this series. The future of the rare book trade is in good hands, I think we are going to be fine.

 

Any upcoming fairs or catalogues?

 

We want to publish a digital catalog in April, once the shop opens, so we can test the versatility of our new set-up. No fairs for us until the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair in September. But did we mention, we’re opening a shop? We are.


[Photo Credit: Michael Bucher]


A week ago on Tuesday, February 26, Peter Harrington, the distinguished London rare book firm, marked its 50th year by launching In Her Own Words: Works by Exceptional Women, an exhibition of its new catalogue of works by women, a first in the firm’s history.
   

To a bustling crowd of press at a breakfast in the morning, and bibliophiles and collectors in the evening, staff briskly opened glass cabinets in order to show off their favorite items. Put together by Harrington booksellers Theodora Robinson and Emma Walshe, the books and items featured in the exhibition highlight the work of women in a variety of fields, but what brings them together, they note in their introduction, is that “these were women who pushed legal, intellectual, and and physical boundaries.” 

  

131543_5_Baker www.peterharrington.co.uk.jpgThe catalogue overflows with signed and presentation copies of women who broke boundaries and ceilings, pursued freedom, civil rights, equality, from Charlotte Perkins GiIman’s feminist Utopian novel Herland -- signed to Californian suffragette Alice Locke Park -- to two inscribed works by Dorothy Parker (who left her estate to the NAACP) to renowned screenwriter Frances Marion to great, but overlooked women in science, like Ada Lovelace and Rosalind Franklin, whose contributions are still debated today.

  

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There are also tremendous association copies, including a copy of Sappho given by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to his daughter Sara. 

  

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One related item crossing the ocean this week to be at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair is Giovanni Boccaccio’s De claris mulieribus, second edition, dating to the mid-15th century, which is the first collection of biographies devoted exclusively to women. They’re also bringing one of (!) their rare Lovelace volumes, a first edition of the paper she wrote, annotated by her math tutor.

  

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There’s also a Pank-a-Squith gameboard, which is difficult to find with its suffragette game pieces, a rare hand-painted WSPU donation tin, and a Women’s Freedom League sash, once owned by the suffragette Hodgson sisters. 

  

As we approach International Women’s Day on March 8, many booksellers are honoring the much overlooked work of women, including Alembic Rare Books and Deborah Coltham, who are issuing a joint catalogue of women in science. Bernard Quaritch also published a catalogue focused on “Women.” And it’s worth noting that the next catalogue of women’s work issued by book dealer Elizabeth Crawford will be her 200th. 

  

The exhibition of work is on display at Peter Harrington through Friday, March 15 at its shop located at 43 Dover Street.

  

Images, from top: Joséphine Baker: Felix Achille de la Cámara; Pepito Abatino. Mon sang dans tes veines. Paris: Les editions Isis, 1931. Ada Lovelace: Menabrea, Luigi Federico. Sketch of the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage, Esq. With Notes by the Translator. Franz von. Kleist’s translation of Sappho. Giovanni Boccacchio. De claris mulieribus. Strassburg: Georg Husner, about 1474-75, not after 1479. All credit: www.peterharrington.co.uk.

  

A. N. Devers is a long-time contributor to Fine Books and owns The Second Shelf, a new London bookshop of rare books, first editions, and rediscovered work by women.

A busier week coming up in the auction world:

  

On Tuesday, March 5, Rossini auctions the first sale of books from the collection of Guy Gaulard, in 229 lots.

  

Heritage Auctions will hold a Rare Books Signature Auction in New York on Wednesday, March 6, including the first selection of books from the Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction. A copy of the first book edition of The Federalist, with both volumes in original boards, has a reserve of $75,000, as does a cow sculpture designed and painted by Maurice Sendak. Among the Penzler items expected to sell well are first editions of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon, and Donald Yates’ copies of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely.

   

Also on Wednesday, Printed Books, Maps & Documents at Dominic Winter Auctioneers, in 500 lots. Lots 45-117 comprise the first part of the Ladwell Collection of Fine Bird Books.

  

M39143-1_2.jpgSwann Galleries sells Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books in New York on Thursday, 7 March, in 274 lots. Sale title notwithstanding, three manuscripts rate the top estimates: a sixteenth-century prayer book with thirty-five miniatures and bound around 1800 in the style of Edwards of Halifax could fetch $20,000-30,000, while a mid-fifteenth century Book of Hours, Use of Rome, on vellum, is estimated at $15,000-20,000. A Dutch Book of Hours, Use of Utrecht, also from the middle part of the fifteenth century, could sell for $8,000-12,000. A copy of the first Ibarra edition of Don Quixote (1780, pictured above), rates the same estimate; it was once in the Kansas City Public Library.

  

At PBA Galleries on Thursday, Fine Books: A Biblio-Medley for All Tastes, in 515 lots. Beginning with lot 322 the remainder of the sale is unreserved. The top-estimated lot, returning to the saleroom after first being offered last September, is a copy of Herbert Childs’ biography of American physicist Ernest Orlando Lawrence, An American Genius (1968). Inscribed by the author and signed by more than forty scientists (among them ten Nobel laureates) and Lawrence family members, the volume is now estimated at $8,000-12,000. A large-paper copy of Sauvan’s Picturesque Tour of the Seine (1821), could sell for $4,000-6,000. A printed Quran with hand-painted illuminations is also estimated at $4,000-6,000, as is a copy of the scare Arion Press issue of John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1984).

   

Image credit: Swann Auction Galleries

George Ticknor (1791-1871) was a true Boston Brahmin ardently devoted to books and learning. The Harvard University professor of French and Spanish (who resigned in 1835 and was replaced by none other than Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) built a 14,000-volume personal library that rivaled institutional collections in Europe. Ticknor’s daughter, Anna Eliot (1823-1896) was also an intellectual and educator, founding the first correspondence school in the United States in 1873. Called the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, Eliot’s program was designed to provide access to quality, individualized education to motivated but underserved women across social strata. As scholars and collectors, father and daughter were fitting namesakes for the Ticknor Society and now for that organization’s inaugural George and Anna Ticknor Collecting Prize.


Here’s the details: Collections must be compiled, curated, and owned by the contestant, who must reside in one of the six New England states. Eligible collections may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera. Collections will be judged on their originality and creativity and not market value or size.


Applicants are asked to submit an essay of up to 1,500 words describing the inspiration behind the creation of the collection, as well as its history, current status, and anticipated direction. Images of one or more items in the collection and a bibliography of the collection are also requested.


The bibliography should include the author, title, place, publisher and date of publication, type of binding, condition, annotations on the importance of individual pieces, and why each item is in the collection.


One winner will receive a $1,000 prize and offered a complimentary one-year Ticknor Society membership.


The application deadline is April 15, 2019 and the winner will be notified on June 30. The prize will be awarded at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair in November. 


Appy here: www.ticknor.org

Auction Guide