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.




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.




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.




“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 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.



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



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.


Thumbnail image for 126672_4_boccaccio.JPG

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:


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:

What used to be a biannual accounting of newly published books about books has become quarterly, it seems, which is good news for bibliophiles. So what are the freshest books in our favorite genre?  

Magic of Handwriting copy.jpgIf you had the opportunity to see The Magic of Handwriting: The Pedro Corrêa do Lago Collection at the Morgan Library last year, or you read Nick Basbanes’ profile of the collector in our fall 2018 issue, you’d know that Corrêa do Lago has amassed an astounding collection of autographs. From Michelangelo to Stephen Hawking, his nearly 100,000 items cover art, science, literature, you name it. The Morgan’s selection of 140 showpieces has been turned into a handsome book by Taschen, printed on thick paper and bound in textured cloth. There are introductory essays, transcriptions of manuscripts, and copious illustrations. All in all, an incredible bargain for $35. My favorite: an Adam Smith letter c. 1767 in which he writes, “I shall not know how to employ myself till I get my library.”

Literary Places copy.jpgIt’s the time of year for planning a summer vacation, and here’s just the volume to steer you: Inspired Traveller’s Guide: Literary Places (White Lion, $19.99) by Sarah Baxter. It’s not a travel guide in the typical sense of the term, it’s more inspirational (which is why it will work just as well for armchair travelers and staycationers). The book explores 25 places -- e.g., Paris, Davos, Cairo, Cartagena -- through a literary lens, focusing on one book that illuminates something about that destination. In Dublin, it’s Ulysses, and we visit some of Leopold Bloom’s haunts; in New York, it’s The Catcher in the Rye, and we pause to consider the iconic status of Penn Station and Central Park. Each charming essay is enhanced by bright, bold illustrations by Amy Grimes.

the-catalogue-of-shipwrecked-books-9781982111397_xlg.jpgThe Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library (Scribner, $30) by Edward Wilson-Lee is superbly researched and remarkably well-written. At its core, the book is a biography of Columbus’s illegitimate son, Hernando Colón, who was an archivist at heart. He sought to collect not just “the largest private library of the day,” but ephemeral prints, pamphlets, and music as well. He then created lists and catalogues of his collected works and even designed his own secret alphabet to describe them; he could be obsessive in his collecting and collating, a kindred spirit no doubt to many Fine Books readers. Colón was obviously a man ahead of his time; his story is expansive, and in Wilson-Lee’s hands, absolutely compelling.

Making Medieval.jpgIf you enjoyed, as we did, Christopher de Hamel’s recent book, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, you will find his latest, Making Medieval Manuscripts (Bodleian Library/University of Chicago Press, $25), an ideal companion piece. In this slim, square paperback filled with glossy illustrations, de Hamel walks the reader through the art and craft of medieval manuscript creation--from descriptions of paper and parchment to types of ink to illumination and binding techniques. It is the perfect introduction to this area of study.

Damrosch jacket copy.jpgIf Samuel Johnson is your man, Prize-winning biographer Leo Damrosch’s atmospheric new book, The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age (Yale University Press, $30) should be on your radar. In clear, engaging prose, Damrosch ushers us into “the club,” i.e., the Turk’s Head Tavern in London, where members like Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, and James Boswell joined Johnson for food, drink, and, perhaps more than anything else, intelligent talk. 

But wait, there’s more!  

    •    Books of the Weird: Figments from Libraries, Bookshops & Other Imaginary Worlds (Books of the Weird Press, $20) by John D. Riley. Written by a longtime antiquarian bookseller for fellow bibliomaniacs, it is a pleasure to dip into.

    •    Prince of the Press: How One Collector Built History’s Most Enduring and Remarkable Jewish Library (Yale University Press, $35) by Joshua Teplitsky chronicles the life of David Oppenheim (1664-1736), a rabbi who built an extensive library of some 4,500 books and 1,000 manuscripts.

    •    Murder by the Book: The Crime that Shocked Dickens’s London (Knopf, $25.95) by Claire Harman is a quick and entertaining read about how the literary culture of Victorian England may have influenced a young valet to kill his boss, Lord William Russell.  

Still adding to your TBR pile? Check out our Fall 2018 Books about Books roundup, or our holiday edition.

Images courtesy of individual publishers

800px-Bonnieclyde_f.jpgYou’ve read the story of ‘Jesse James’,

Of how he lived and died. 

If you’re still in need 

Of something to read, 

Here’s the story of ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’

So begins the famous poem written by Bonnie Parker, of the notorious crime duo Bonnie and Clyde. The original manuscript of that poem, along with a number of others purportedly written by the pair in a 1933 Year Book are being offered for auction at Heritage in April.

The young lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow blazed their way through the Depression-era American South in a string of crime, including theft, kidnapping, and murder, before being gunned down in a Louisiana ambush in 1934.

At some point in their travels, they appear to have acquired a 1933 Year Book (essentially a daily planner), which had been abandoned or tossed out by its former owner.  As a matter of interest to print culture enthusiasts of the way books and manuscripts are adapted over time, the original owner of the year book seems to have been a serious golfer. The duo, having acquired the planner, then began writing poetry of their life of the run in the blank pages, including “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde,” written by Bonnie, which is their most well-known literary output. That poem was ripped out of the planner and set in an envelope, which is being included in the auction. 

Clyde seems to have written an occasionally playful, occasionally melancholic response to Bonnie’s poem in September of 1933:

Bonnie’s Just Written a poem
the Story of Bonnie & Clyde. So
I will try my hand at Poetry
With her riding by my side.

The poem continues:

We donte want to hurt anney one / but we have to Steal to eat. / and if it’s a shoot out to / to live that’s the way it / will have to bee.We have kidnapped some / people. And tied them to a tree / but not so tight that after we / were gone tha could not get / themselves free. / We are going home tomorrow / to look in on the folks. We will / meet then out near Grape Vine / if the Laws donte get there / first. / Now that’s not as good as / Bonnies. So I guess I / Will call it a flop- / But please God Just one / moore visit before we are / Put on the spot.

Heritage has declined to definitively authenticate the handwriting as that of Bonnie and Clyde as little has survived, however they noted similiarities between the handwriting in the book and the few examples of their handwriting that exist elsewhere. The notebook has also been owned for decades by Barrow’s family.  It was consigned to Heritage by Clyde Barrow’s nephew. 

[Image from Wikipedia]

Part II of the sale of world traveler, adventurer, and book collector Steve Fossett’s library gets underway in Chicago on March 15. A peruse through the catalogue makes clear just how many volumes in the “Adventure & Exploration” genre sport dazzling decorative cloth bindings. Let’s take a look at ten that truly stand out.

Lot 2.jpgFirst edition of Lecornu’s La Navigation Aérienne (Paris, 1903) in publisher’s decorated green cloth. Estimated at $250-350.

Lot 31.jpgFirst edition of Burton’s Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo (London, 1876) in original publisher’s green gilt cloth. Estimated at $1,500-2,000.

Lot 38.jpgFirst edition, presentation copy, of From Cape to Cairo. The First Traverse of Africa from South to North (London, 1900) in original publisher’s pictorial mustard cloth. Estimated at $600-800.

Lot 52.jpgFirst edition of Frank Oates’ Matabele Land and the Victoria Falls (London, 1881) in publisher’s pictorial olive green cloth. Estimated at $600-800.

Lot 59.jpgFirst edition of Twixt Sirdar & Menelik. An Account of a Year’s Expedition from Zeila to Cairo through Unknown Abyssinia (London & New York, 1901) in publisher’s decorated tan gilt cloth. Estimated at $300-400.

Lot 84.jpgFirst edition of John James Wild’s At Anchor (London 1878). Intriguingly, the original publisher’s pictorial green gilt cloth has been retained through rebacking and recornering in matching morocco. Estimated at $400-600.

Lot 104.jpgFirst edition of Under the Northern Lights (London, 1876) in publisher’s pictorial green gilt cloth. Estimated at $800-1,200.

Lot 109.jpgReprint edition of Nansen’s famous “Farthest North.” Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship “Fram”... (London, 1898) in original publisher’s decorated green cloth. Estimated at $100-200.
Lot 155.jpgFirst edition, presentation copy, of The Voyage of the ‘Scotia.’ Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration in the Antarctic Seas (Edinburgh, 1906) in original publisher’s pictorial gray cloth. I especially like how the art on some of these covers carries over onto the spine. Estimated at $1,000-1,500.

Lot 220.jpgFirst trade edition of Across East African Glaciers. An Account of the First Ascent of Kilimanjaro (London, 1891) in original publisher’s decorated green gilt cloth. Estimated at $1,000-1,500.

Images courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

A trio of sale to watch this week:


Chiswick Auctions holds an Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages sale on Wednesday, February 27, in 345 lots. This auction includes a number of original paintings, sculptures, &c., but among the books are manuscripts are the expanded second edition of the great sea atlas Le Neptune Oriental (£10,000-15,000); a 1756 edition of the English Pilot (£4,000-6,000); Shelley’s Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds (£4,000-6,000); and an 1838 whaling log from the brig William, out of Fall River, MA (£3,000-4,000; pictured below).


whaling.png Also on Wednesday, University Archives will sell Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics, in 266 lots. Headlining this auction is a complete set of autographs of the signers of the U.S. Constitution ($60,000-70,000). Other highlights are expected to include a collection of nearly fifty playbills, nine of which feature John Wilkes Booth ($30,000-35,000); a 1781 George Washington-signed letter about prisoner exchanges ($35,000-40,000); a 1779 Benjamin Franklin letter about outfitting Lafayette’s troops ($30,000-35,000); and an apparently unpublished Alexander Hamilton letter alluding to the compromise which led to the formation of Washington, D.C. (also $30,000-35,000). The latter two items are both noted as being from an extra-illustrated copy of a history of New York City.


Back at Chiswick Auctions on Thursday, Autographs & Memorabilia, in 289 lots. Among the lots on Thursday are a large collection of letters by English, French, and Italian composers and musicians (£3,000-5,000); the training notebook of cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov (£2,000-3,000); and a Vicksburg newspaper printed on wallpaper (£800-1,200). A great variety of lots in this one, making the catalogue well worth a browse, whatever your collecting interests.


Image courtesy of Chiswick Auctions

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