Here we have the ten-volume “Manuscript Edition” of the Writings of John Muir in its most deluxe, made-to-order form, containing ten (fragmented) manuscripts in Muir’s hand and bound in full crushed green morocco with gilt tooling. Surprisingly, it is also extra-illustrated with more than 260 added plates, mostly photographic, by Muir’s photographer, Herbert W. Gleason, some reproducing Muir’s drawings—and that’s on top of the original 114 photogravure plates made for the regular edition. Jeff Weber Rare Books in California sold the set to the Huntington Library, together with The Life and Letters of John Muir by William Frederic Badè (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1916-1924), for $45,000.
It was the Sydney-based rare book dealer Hordern House that sold this rarity to a private collector: Francois Pelsaert’s Ongeluckige Voyagie, Van’t Schip Batavia… (1647), showing the first views of Australia in the first Australian book. Pelsaert’s account of the “unlucky voyage” and wreck of the Batavia off the western Australian coastline in 1629 and its gruesome aftermath is the first published account of any voyage of Australian discovery. A small quarto, the book contains six full-page plates comprising fifteen separately engraved images. According to the bookseller, this is one of only two copies of the first edition known to be held outside institutions. The price was $485,000 (AUD), or about $358,000 (US).
What makes this 1950 first edition in dust jacket of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train particularly interesting is that she inscribed it to Otto Penzler, her editor and publisher for six years. Penzler, the proprietor of New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop, said, “My favorite part is that she misspelled my name!” Indeed, Highsmith inscribed it as follows: “For Otto Pentzler [sic] I am surprised!!! to see this collector’s item—on 22 Oct. 1984. Pat Highsmith.” A fellow bookseller nabbed it for $9,500.
Booklyn, the Brooklyn non-profit that promotes artists’ books, sold artist Brian D. Tripp’s hand-painted book, Round & Round (2018), to the Newberry Library in Chicago for $2,600 this past April. According to Booklyn, Round and Round is “an important example of contemporary Native American (Karuk Nation) artists' book making. And it's the first unique handmade artists' book made by a contemporary Native American acquired for the Newberry's acclaimed collection of Native American material.” Tripp is a member of the Northern California Karuk Tribal community, and he made this book partly as an homage to the Water Protectors at the Standing Rock encampment, where he spent time in 2017.