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“Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends": First Edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
London: John Murray, 1859.
First edition of “certainly the most important biological book ever written” (Freeman), one of 1250 copies. Octavo, bound in original cloth, half-title, one folding lithographed diagram, without advertisements. In fine condition with a touch of shelfwear. Housed in a custom clamshell box. An exceptional example of this landmark work, one of the nicest extant.
Price: $400,000.00 Item Number: 116380
"LIGHT OF MY LIFE, FIRE OF MY LOINS": FIRST American EDITION OF Nabokov's TOUR DE FORCE LOLITA; Inscribed by Him to his Editor Jason Epstein with a drawing of a butterfly
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1955.
First American edition and first trade edition of Nabokov’s masterpiece. Octavo, original cloth. Association copy, inscribed by the author on the half-title page on the day of publication, “For Jason and Barbara from Vladimir August 18, 1958” and with a drawing by Nabokov of a butterfly. The recipient Jason Epstein was Nabokov’s Doubleday editor and an early supporter of the novel. Having published Nabokov’s Pnin at Doubleday in 1957, Epstein encouraged the house to publish Lolita to no avail (four American publishers refused to publish the work) but was successful in printing the first appearance of the novel in America, a long excerpt in the June 1957 issue of Doubleday’s Anchor Review. G.P. Putnam’s published the sensational book in America the following summer and it became the first novel since Gone with the Wind to sell 100,000 copies in its first three weeks. Inscribed copies of both the 1955 Paris first edition and this 1958 first American edition are equally scarce due to Nabokov’s refusal to sign copies. Vera Nabokov noted this in a letter accompanying a signed copy of the 1958 edition to Anita Loos, that her husband “has been autographing Lolita only for personal friends and the very few writers whose work he admires. He has refused his autograph to so many of his own students and to so many of his acquaintances that it would be impossible for him to make an exception… ” (Nabokov, Selected Letters, 1940-77, ed. D. Nabokov and M. J. Bruccoli, p. 265. Also: Tock, Emily. Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov and Jason Epstein: A Study in Authorial Extravagance and Editorial Restraint in The Journal of Scholarly Publishing, Volume 48, Issue 4, July 2017, pp. 268-281). Photograph of Nabokov by Maclean Dameron. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An exceptional association.
Price: $125,000.00 Item Number: 121875
First Octavo Edition of the The Birds of America from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories; In the Rare Original Publisher's Morocco
New York: Published by J.J. Audubon, 1840.
First octavo edition of this landmark work. Octavo, bound in original publisher’s morocco, 7 volumes, gilt titles and ruling to the spine, marbled endpapers, complete with 500 hand-colored lithographed plates by J.T. Bowen after J.J. Audubon; woodcuts in the text. From the library of Boston businessman and Ambassador T. Jefferson Coolidge, with his bookplate to the front pastedown. Coolidge was born to a prominent Boston Brahmin family and was a great-grandson of the 3rd United States President Thomas Jefferson, through his maternal grandparents, Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson Randolph. His uncles were Thomas Jefferson Randolph, George Wythe Randolph, Andrew Jackson Donelson, and a relative of Calvin Coolidge. He was an uncle to Archibald Cary Coolidge through his older brother, Joseph Randolph Coolidge. He was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as United States Ambassador to France on May 12, 1892, a role his great-grandfather had held from May 1785 to September 1789. Coolidge presented his credentials on June 10, 1892 and he presented his recall on May 4, 1893, terminating his mission. In 1898 and 1899, he was a member of the American delegation to the commission to resolve the Alaska boundary dispute. Historian Ernest May says Coolidge was, “a prototype member of what today we call the foreign policy establishment.” In 1898, Coolidge donated a collection of Thomas Jefferson’s personal papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. The collection contained more than 8,000 items: Correspondence, including 3,280 letters that Jefferson had written and 4,630 letters that he had received; Jefferson’s garden book (1766-1824) and farm book (1774-1824); annotated almanacs from 1771-1776; account books for 1783-1790; manuscript expense accounts from 1804-1825; notes on the weather spanning the years 1782-1826; plans of American forts in 1765; law treatises, 1778-1788; legal papers, 1770-1772; and Jefferson’s 1783 catalog of his personal library. In near fine condition. An exceptional set with noted provenance, rare in the original publisher’s morocco.
Price: $75,000.00 Item Number: 111832
“Give me liberty, or give me death": Scarce 1776 separate edition of the Large Additions to Common Sense
Philadelphia: Printed and sold, by R. Bell in Third-Street, 1776.
Scarce 1776 separate edition of the Large Additions to Common Sense. The title reads in full: Large Additions To Common Sense: Addressed To The Inhabitants Of America On The Following Interesting Subjects. I. The American Patriot’s Prayer. II. American Independancy, defended by Candidus. III. The Propriety of Independancy, by Demophilus The dread of Tyrants, and the sole resource Of those that under grim Oppression groan. Thomson. IV. A Review of the American Contest with some Strictures on the King’s Speech. Addressed to All Parents in the Thirteen United Colonies by a Friend To Posterity And Mankind. V. Letter to Lord Dartmouth, by an English American. VI. Observations on Lord North’s Conciliatory Plan, by Sincerus. To Which Is Added And Given An Appendix to Common Sense; Together with an Address to the People Called Quakers on their Testimony concerning Kings and Government and the Present Commotions in America. Octavo, bound in three quarters morocco over boards, gilt titles and five raised bands to the spine, marbled endpapers. In very good condition, internally very clean. Rare with only two examples appearing at auction in the last 80 years.
Price: $50,000.00 Item Number: 106523
"Taking the pledge will not make bad liquor good, but it will improve it": The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; inscribed by Mark Twain
New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1886.
Early printing of Twain’s masterpiece, inscribed by Mark Twain. Octavo, bound in half buckram by Roycroft with paper labels to the spine, tissue-guarded frontispiece photogravure plate of Gerhardt’s bust of Clemens, one hundred and seventy-four illustrations by E. W. Kemble. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the title page, “To Mr. Garth W. Cate: Taking the pledge will not make bad liquor good, but it will improve it. Truly Yours, Mark Twain, Nov. 25/06.” With a lengthy letter of provenance dated October 14, 1964 and signed by the recipient which reads in part, “Dear Mr. Jacobs, If I had been younger and could have carried out a study of some of Mark Twain’s motives and acts, I never would have parted with my cherished old copy of the first printing of Huckleberry Finn. This was the first book given to me by my father… In 1906-1907 I was a lecture manager for Elbert Hubbard, the Sage of East Aurora, whose quasi-socialist group The Roycrofters was quite famous as an arts and crafts enter at East Aurora, New York. By that time the HUCK FINN was loose in its covers… Elbert Hubbard saw the book on my desk when I brought it in to have it rebound in the Roycroft Bindery. Said he, “No author could resist seeing such a well worn volume testifying to the delight it had given many readers. Why don’t you send it down to Mark Twain and ask him to inscribed it. I’ll sign and send Mark a few of my own books along with it, thus salting the mine for you.” So I sent HUCK back to its spiritual father, and when it returned I was somewhat shocked, having been sent to a temperance Sunday School by a whiskey fearing mother, to find that he had inscribed it “To Mr. Garth W. Cate – Taking the pledge will not make bad liquor good, but will improve it.” (Incidentally it was several years after that before I took my first drink. I am an abstainer today). Later on I was to marry a Christian Science practitioner, and when she saw this inscription she exclaimed: Why, that is the most immoral thing I ever saw! How could a great author send such a sentiment to a young man?” A careful search of Mark Twain’s writings revealed that he had a deep-seated lifetime aversion for pledges, especially when they had been obtained under pressure from those of an older generation. It seems when Mark was a boy in his early teens, his mother and aunt talked and pressured him into signing a pledge not to touch alcohol in any from. Later he was to refer to this as “A ball and chain clanking behind him down the years of time.” He hated such restrictions, especially when thrust upon him while immature.” In very good condition. With the original publisher’s decorated green cloth cover bound in and three rare portraits of Twain tipped in. With two further letters of provenance and several period Twain-related clippings adhered to several pages. An exceptional presentation copy with noted provenance.
Price: $45,000.00 Item Number: 123083
"In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer": First American Edition of Albert Camus Classic Novel The Stranger; Inscribed by Him to fellow novelist Vincent Sheean
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946.
First American edition of Camus’ first novel and masterpiece. Octavo, original beige cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the half-title page, “A Vincent Sheean pour le remercier de savoir si bien parler de Stendhal Sympathiquement Albert Camus.” The recipient, Vincent Sheean was an American journalist and novelist. Sheean’s most famous work was Personal History, which won one of the inaugural National Book Awards: the Most Distinguished Biography of 1935. Film producer Walter Wanger acquired the political memoir and made it the basis for his 1940 film production Foreign Correspondent, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Sheean wrote the narration for the feature-length documentary Crisis (1939) directed by Alexander Hammid and Herbert Kline. He translated Ève Curie’s biography of her mother, Madame Curie (1939), into English. Sheean wrote Oscar Hammerstein I: Life and Exploits of an Impresario (1955) as well as a controversial biography of Dorothy Thompson and Sinclair Lewis, Dorothy and Red (1963). He studied at the University of Chicago, becoming part of a literary circle which included Glenway Wescott, Yvor Winters, Elizabeth Madox Roberts and Janet Lewis while he was there. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Warren Chappell. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Presentation copies of The Stranger are rare, with only one appearing at auction in the past 70 years. Exceedingly scarce and desirable.
Price: $45,000.00 Item Number: 97850
“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy": First Modern Library of The Great Gatsby; Inscribed by F. Scott Fitzgerald
New York: The Modern Library, 1934.
First Modern Library edition of the author’s masterpiece, with the first appearance of Fitzgerald’s new introduction. Octavo, original green cloth. Inscribed by the author on the half title page, “For Lillian Abercrombie at the beginning of a tour of work F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Near fine in a very good dust jacket with some rubbing to the extremities and some small chips. Housed in a full custom morocco box. The first Modern Library edition of The Great Gatsby was a resounding commercial failure, and many copies were remaindered with the caption “discontinued title” printed on the jacket’s front panel. The present copy represents one of the earlier, non-remaindered copies, and like all of the first Modern Library editions of The Great Gatsby, features Fitzgerald’s new introduction, with his own, now-famous take on his masterwork: “I think it is an honest book, that is to say, that one used none of one’s virtuosity to get an effect, and, to boast again, one soft-pedalled the emotional side to avoid the tears leaking from the socket of the left eye, or the large false face peering around the corner of a character’s head. If there is a clear conscience, a book can survive — at least in one’s feelings about it. On the contrary, if one has a guilty conscience, one reads what one wants to hear out of reviews. In addition, if one is young and willing to learn, almost all reviews have a value, even the ones that seem unfair.”
Price: $40,000.00 Item Number: 37020
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946.
First American edition of Camus’ first novel and masterpiece. Octavo, original beige cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the half-title page, “A Muriel Sutman nous ne sommes pas des étrangers, Albert Camus.” Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Warren Chappell. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Presentation copies of The Stranger are rare, with only one appearing at auction in the past 70 years.
Price: $37,500.00 Item Number: 116373
"The first atlas of the new world": First complete edition in Italian of Ptolemy's La Geographia, the earliest and most comprehensive small-format world atlas published
Le Geographia di Claudio Ptolemeo Alessandrino, Con alcuni comenti & aggiunte fattevi da Sebastiano munstero, Con le tavole non solamente antiche & moderne solite di staparsi.
Venice: G. B. Pedrezano, 1547.
First complete edition in Italian of Ptolemy’s “first atlas of the new world” (Nordenskiöld) and the most detailed and comprehensive world atlas published prior to Ortelius’s Theatrum in 1570. Small octavo, bound in full vellum with gilt morocco spine label, all edges speckled red, woodcut border to the title page, woodcut initials and illustrations throughout the text including a portrait of an astronomer and 60 double-page engraved maps designed by Giacomo Gastaldi. The majority of the 34 maps of the modern world are entirely new first appearances, including 7 maps of the Americas. Among the maps of the Americas is the Nueva Hispania tabula nova which shows the Mississippi and Florida area and is the first separate printed map of the region. Also included is the landmark Tierra Nueva map of the North American coast from Florida to Labrador. In fine condition. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box. An exceptional example of this landmark work.
Price: $35,000.00 Item Number: 95367
"The rarest of them all": First Edition of the First Catholic Bible to be printed in America and the First Quarto Edition Printed
The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate: Diligently Compared with the Hebrew, Greek, and Other Editions, in Divers Languages; and First Published by The English College at Doway, Anno 1609. Newly Revised, and Corrected, According to the Clementine Edition of the Scriptures. With Annotations for Elucidating the Principal Difficulties of Holy Writ.
Philadelphia: Carey, Stewart, and Co, 1790.
First edition of the first Catholic Bible printed in America, “the rarest of them all” and the first quarto edition Bible printed in America. Quarto, bound in full calf. Two volumes bound in one, title page to volume one, not title page of volume two as issued, two leaves of subscribers’ names. In very good condition with some of the usual toning to the text. An exceptionally rare work, most desirable.
Price: $35,000.00 Item Number: 81020
Harry Potter Series Complete Deluxe Set. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince, and The Deathly Hallows.
London: Bloomsbury, 1997-2007.
First editions of the deluxe edition of each book in Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Octavo, 7 volumes, original decorative cloth as issued. Each volume is signed by J.K. Rowling and were collected in person by the previous owner. The Prisoner of Azkaban is inscribed. In fine condition. No dust jackets were issued for these volumes. Scarce and desirable.
Price: $35,000.00 Item Number: 81035
Venice: Aldus Manutius, September, 1502.
Rare first edition of Herodotus‘ history of the Persian Wars, one of the most important texts edited by the great scholar-printer-publisher. Folio, bound in contemporary vellum, woodcut title in Greek and Roman letter, verso with dedication in Latin, text in Greek letter throughout with spaces for capital letters, woodcut device on title and last page. Aldus claims in the dedication that he corrected the text from multiple exemplars, one of the few instances where such a claim by him is justified and can be verified. He was the first to have access to the ‘Florentine’ codices, where Valla had used the so-called Roman family of manuscripts for his translation. The printer’s copy was discovered in Nuremberg by Brigitte Mondrain in 1993 (Scriptorium 49 , pp. 263-273). The History was designed to match the Aldine Thucydides of four months earlier: they share a paper stock, all types and the number of lines per page. Ahmanson-Murphy 50; Isaac 12782; Laurenziana 64; Renouard, Alde 35:8; Sansoviniana 67. In excellent condition with light rubbing and wear, bookplates to the pastedown, some light toning to the text, occasional Greek and Latin annotations in a c.17th-century hand, small repairs to the final four leaves. An exceptional example of this landmark work, rare and desirable in contemporary vellum.
Price: $32,000.00 Item Number: 96588
London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1943.
First edition of the final novel in Lewis’ acclaimed Space Trilogy. Octavo, original cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by C.S. Lewis to fellow writer and journalist George Orwell and his wife (Eric and Eileen Blair) on the front free endpaper, “To the Blairs, with kind regards, C.S. Lewis Aug. 1945.” This is the review copy used in George Orwell’s literary review of the book which was published in the Manchester Evening News on August 16th 1945. Also with three hand-corrections to the text in Lewis’ hand which he made in all review copies before personally sending to critics. Although Lewis and Orwell were not close friends, both were employed as radio journalists by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) during WWII, an era that transformed both religious broadcasting (in which Lewis became a primary figure) and war correspondence (Orwell’s experience as a correspondent working out of the basement of the BBC during wartime was a major inspiration for his masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four). Very good in a very good dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morrocco clamshell box. A remarkable association.
Price: $30,000.00 Item Number: 81218
Extremely rare first Latin edition of Galileo's revolutionary Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
Systema Cosmicum in Quo Quatuor Dialogis, de Duobus Maximis Mundi Systematibus, Ptolemaico et Copernicano. [Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems].
Strasbourg: D. Hauttius for the Elzevir, 1635.
Rare first Latin edition of Galileo’s epoch-making Dialogo, the summation of the extraordinary mathematician’s astronomical thought and the work which directly precipitated his 1663 trial and judgement for heresy. Preceded only by the 1632 edition in Italian. Small octavo, bound in full contemporary vellum, engraved additional title page, full page engraved frontispiece portrait of Galileo by Jacob van der Heyden, woodcut diagrams, with the final leaf of errata. This Latin edition includes two tracts in the appendix not in the Italian edition of 1632, and it is the only major work of Galileo’s to be published outside Italy during his lifetime. The two added Latin tracts are the introduction to Kepler’s Astronomia nova (pp. 459-464), and a letter by Paolo Antonio Foscarini defending the truth of Copernicanism and rebutting the charge that it conflicted with scripture (pp. 465-495). With the appendix by P.A. Foscarini which contains an attempt to reconcile the Copernican views with the Holy Scripture. In near fine condition. Exceptionally rare, as the work was rigidly suppressed from the start.
Price: $28,000.00 Item Number: 93890
Amsterdam: Joannes Janssonius, 1617.
Rare edition of the Epitome of Vesalius, first published in 1543 as an abbreviated dissection room manual to accompany his masterpiece De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body). Folio, bound in full contemporary calf, gilt titles and elaborate gilt tooling to the spine, red spine label, raised tooled bands, marbled endpapers, engraved pictorial title page. Engraved portrait of Vesalius, engraved folding plate of Adam and Eve after that in the epitome before the main text. Containing 39 full-page anatomically illustrated plates, woodcut headpieces and initials. In near fine condition. Captions in both Latin and German, having been otherwise taken directly from Thomas Geminus’ first copy of 1545, Compendiosa Toitus Anatomie Delineato Aere Exarata. German text taken from Baumann’s German edition of 1551 (Keynes, 171; Krivatsy, 12321; Waller, 9919).
Price: $28,000.00 Item Number: 74638
“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying": The Works of Oscar Wilde; One of 80 Sets Bound in Japanese Vellum
London: Methuen & Co, 1908.
First collected edition, one of 80 sets on Japanese vellum, the rarest and most desirable of Wilde’s works. Octavo, 14 volumes, bound in original vellum, gilt titles and tooling to the spine and front panel with the design by Charles Ricketts, top edge gilt. “The text is taken in most instances from the last editions issued under the superintendence of the author. In some cases the volumes contain additional matter which had not previously been reprinted, while some of the volumes contain matter here published for the first time” (Mason). In near fine condition. Rare and desirable, especially in this condition.
Price: $27,500.00 Item Number: 103150
“THE MOST AMBITIOUS PUBLICATION EVER UNDERTAKEN, UP TO THAT TIME, UPON AMERICAN SOIL… RICHLY DESERVING OF ITS GREAT REPUTATION AT HOME AND ABROAD”: FIRST EDITION OF WEBSTER’S LANDMARK AMERICAN DICTIONARY, 1828
New York: Published by S. Converse. Printed by Hezekiah Howe, 1828.
Rare first edition of Webster’s monumental American Dictionary, one of only 2500 copies, with frontispiece portrait of the pioneering lexicographer, in full contemporary calf. Quarto, two volumes, bound in full contemporary calf, marbled endpapers, illustrated frontispiece, tissue guard present. In near fine condition, light toning to the text. Most rare and desirable bound in contemporary calf. An exceptional example, most rare without any restoration.
Price: $27,500.00 Item Number: 102755
Militello: Giovanni de' Rossi, 1617.
Rare first edition of one of the early chess manuals, and the first book printed in Militello at Prince Francesco Branciforte’s private press. Octavo, bound in full contemporary vellum with ink titles to the spine, large engraving of the Branciforte coat of arms opposite the dedication page, woodcut illustrations throughout the text. In near fine condition. First editions are of exceptional rarity, with only three appearing at auction in the past 90 years.
Price: $25,000.00 Item Number: 96172