Thursday, August 25, 2016

Antiquarian Book News

PBA Galleries – September 8 – 11am

Sale 595: Rare Books & Manuscripts with the Stephen F. Rohde Collection of Early Americana

Among the highlights:

  • Very rare folio first edition of Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America, 1789-90, the first official publication of the acts of the first Congress, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000. 

Brilliant copy of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of the landmarks of 19th century American literature, with note signed by Twain and a proof of the "suppressed plate." Estimate: $30,000-$50,000.

  • Two Guest Books from the Hollywood Art Shop in the 1920's, with signatures of numerous actors, actresses, authors, artists, etc., from Charlie Chaplin to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000.
 Nürnbergische Hesperides by Johann Volckaner, 1708-1814, with 260 engraved plates, one of the most celebrated of 18th Century fruit books. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000.

  • Superb pair of albums containing nearly 100 gelatin silver prints of San Francisco in the wake of the massive earthquake and fire of 1906, of exceptional quality. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000.

  • Set of the four Christopher Robin books by A.A. Milne, featuring Winnie the Pooh, first editions in the original dust jackets. Estimate: $12,000-$15,000.

  • The Federalist: on the New Constitution, by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, the second edition, two volumes, 1802, a cornerstone of American political theory. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

  • The Works of the Famous Nicolas Machiavel, the first collected edition in English, 1675, a foundation work of modern political science. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000.

  • An Historical Sketch of Bookbinding, 1893, finely bound by the author, Sarah Prideaux, in full blue morocco elaborately tooled in gilt, the binding signed and dated 1895. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000.

Each lot illustrated in the online version of the catalogue.
Bid directly from the site. Now available in the
Bid Live Now section

Two hundred and eighteen select lots ranging from foundation works on the creation of the United States to landmarks of 19th century American fiction and classics of 20th century children's books. Included are many finely bound books, rare printings from the 15th century onward, archives and manuscript material, early medical works, rare botanicals, and much more.

Bloomsbury Ephemera, Book & Postcard Fair

This coming Sunday 28th August, the monthly Bloomsbury Ephemera, Book & Postcard Fair takes place at the Royal National Hotel, WC1H 0DG. Come spend a thoroughly enjoyable day browsing 1,000's of interesting, unusual and rare items!

Spread across the whole of the Galleon Suite the fair really is a treasure hunters paradise! Prices range from a few pounds up, so there is something for everyone and every budget, whether you are starting out collecting, or an avid collector looking to add to your collection.

Doors open at 9.30 until 3pm, admission is £1.50. Thinking of exhibiting? For any late availability phone Kim on 01707 872140, all details on

Kelmscott Chaucer in Canada

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, printed by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press in 1896 and known as the Kelmscott Chaucer, features intricately designed decorative borders and illustrations on each page to accompany Chaucer’s writing. Only 438 copies of the limited edition were printed, and just 48 copies were bound in white pigskin leather and affixed with silver clasps. One of these has recently been acquired by the University of British Columbia for $202,000.

Katharine Kalsbeek, head of the university’s Rare Books and Special Collections, said that the process of acquiring the book began two years ago when she first encountered a copy for sale at the New York Rare Book Fair. It has taken months of fundraising and donations to get the amount required. It is one of only seven or eight copies believed to be located in Canada, and is the only copy in Western Canada.

Those interested in viewing the book can visit the Rare Books and Special Collections during opening hours at UBC’s Point Grey campus, or take a tour offered each Wednesday between 11 a.m. and noon. For opening hours and tour information, visit

Paris Finally Celebrates Oscar Wilde

Paris is to hold its first major exhibition on the life and work of Oscar Wilde shortly which is to be co-curated by his grandson Merlin Holland. Manuscripts, photographs, paintings and personal items are among the items to be displayed in honour of the playwright who died in the city in 1900.

The centenary of Wilde’s death was not celebrated in Paris although there were two exhibitions in 2000, at the British Library and the Barbican Centre. Wilde, who spoke fluent French, was an ardent Francophile who regularly visited the city, eventually dying in Paris. His tomb, in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery, is now a place of pilgrimage.

There are almost 200 exhibits from public and private collections worldwide for the exhibition at the Petit Palais. Together they will tell the story of the author of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ among others.

The exhibition will feature a manuscript dedicated to Robert Ross with the words “the mirror of perfect friendship: Robbie”.

There will also be portraits of Constance, Wilde’s wife and the mother of their two sons, and his lover, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. An imposing portrait of Wilde – dated to around 1883 – by the American painter Harper Pennington is among the first-ever loans from the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA, Los Angeles, which has a large Wilde collection.

Another major item to be shown is of Guido Reni’s San Sebastiano, the Roman soldier martyred for his Christian faith and depicted by the Italian master around 1615 as a young man whose body is pierced by arrows. This will be on loan from the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa, Italy. It was on a visit to Genoa that Wilde saw the painting, writing of “a lovely brown boy, with crisp clustering hair and red lips, bound by his evil enemies to a tree, and, though pierced by arrows, raising his eyes with divine, impassioned gaze towards the Eternal Beauty of the opening heavens”.

The significance is apparently that “Sebastian” became part of Wilde’s assumed name in exile – Sebastian Melmoth: Presumabaly he saw himself as the martyred Saint. It will be the first time that this particular picture has been shown in an exhibition on Wilde.

The Petit Palais exhibition, ‘Oscar Wilde: Insolence Incarnate’, runs from 28 September 2016 to 15 January 2017.

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