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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

Red Morocco and Maine on Vellum

Hard-boiled and Beastly

Carroll John Daly, The Snarl of the Beast, $8,400 at Swann Galleries on May 12.

Tattered and torn, this dust jacket is the only known copy in a true first state. Courtesy of Swann Galleries.

Daly was once voted the most popular writer by the mystery pulp magazine, Black Mask, ahead of such figures as Erle Stanley Gardner and Dashiell Hammett. In this thriller, only his second book, he introduced the private detective Race Williams, a hard-boiled detective and prototype for Mickey Spillane’s character, Mike Hammer.

The jacket of this copy is creased and shows some short tears and small losses at the extremities, but it is essentially complete and still very bright. But the appeal of this particular jacket does not stop there.

Other copies of this 1927 first edition in jackets are known, but they list titles that were published in 1931 and are now considered reprints. This is the only known copy in a true, first state jacket.

Homer alla Graeca Bound

Archbishop Eustathius of Thessalonika, Commentaries on Homer’s Iliad [Greek Text], £61,250 ($100,450) at Sotheby’s of London on June 8.

Luxurious Marcus Fugger binding of Commentaries on Homer’s Iliad (1542). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

This is in fact the first volume only of four that made up the 1542 first printing by Antonio Blado of Rome of this commentary by the twelfth-century Byzantine Greek cleric and scholar—but it is the binding that counts.

It is one of the dozen or so alla Graeca bindings known to have been made in Paris in the early to mid 1550s for Marcus Fugger, a member of the famous Augsberg banking family and a famous early bibliophile. Probably created in the royal bindery in Paris, and modeled on the finest work produced there for Henri II of France, such bindings would have been among the most luxurious in his library.

This is one of only two such bindings whose design incorporates, in addition to fine gilt tooling, lovely leather tracery over a silk ground. This odd volume is now somewhat worn, rubbed, and damaged to the head and foot, as well as lacking one of plaited leather clasps. But signed by Fugger inside the upper cover and making its first auction appearance since the 1933 dispersal of a German princely library proved almost irresistible to at least two fine binding fanciers.

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Derek HayesIan McKay’s weekly column in Antiques Trade Gazette has been running for more than 30 years.