Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Art of the Map at Bloomsbury

by Stephen J. Gertz

FRIES, Laurent. Tabu. Nova Orbis. Lyons, 1535.

Bloomsbury-London is offering 100 lots of historic maps during its Books and Maps sale, today, Tuesday, January 31, 2012. Amongst the many cartographic beauties, primarily regional and national,  are six world maps of artistic and historical interest.

Laurent Fries' Tabu. Nova Orbis (1535) is a woodcut Ptolemaic (geocentric) world map, later hand-colored, depicting Greenland as a long peninsula stretching from Scandinavia into the Atlantic Ocean. It features an elephant or mammoth at upper left, and five enthroned kings sitting in N. Europe, China, India, with two in Africa. The title banderole is unfurled at the top.

HONDIUS, Henricus. Nova Todas Terrarum Orbis Geographica
ac Hydrographica Tabula.
Amsterdam: Jan Jansson, 1641.

Henricus Hondius' Nova Todas Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula (1641) is an engraved, later hand-colored double-hemiphere world map showing California as an island and part of the north coast of Australia - put the shrimp on the barbie in Santa Monica, Mate. It features a small celestial globe at top, and four portrait medallions of Julius Caesar, Ptolemy, Mercator, and Hondius at each corner with allegorical figures of the four elements in between.

ORTELIUS, Abraham. Aevi Veteris, Typus Geographicus.
Amsterdam, 1592.

Aevi Veteris, Typus Geographicus (1592), by the great Abraham Ortelius, is an  engraved and hand-colored classical world map within an elaborate strapwork border containing the title above and the four known continents in corner medallions.

ROGERS, William. Double-Hemisphere World Map.
John Wolfe, 1598.

William Rogers' engraved and hand-colored Double-Hemisphere World Map (1598) possesses a strapwork surround and the name Iehovah at center-top. It was issued as one of the title pages to the 1598 English translation of Jan  Huyghen van Linschoten's Itinerario (John Huighen van Linschoten, His discours of voyages into ye Easte and West Indies: devided into foure bookes).

SCHEDEL, Hartman. Secunda Etas Mundi.
Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1493.

Secunda Etas Mundi (The Second Age of the World, 1493) by Hartmann Schedel (one of the first cartographers to use the printing press) is a Ptolemaic world map taken from the first Latin edition of Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle, which featured the first maps of many cities and countries. In later hand-colored woodcut, the map is surrounded by twelve headwinds, and supported at upper left and right and lower right corner by Ham, Seth, and Japhet of the Old Testament. At left are seven panels depicting strange and fantastical human beasts.

VISSCHER, Nicolaes J. Orbis Terrarum Typus de Integro
in Plurimus Emendatus, Auctus, et Icunculus Illustratus.

Amsterdam, 1657.

Orbis Terrarum Typus de Integro in Plurimus Emendatus, Auctus, et Icunculus Illustratus (1657) by Nicolaes J. Visscher, the Dutch cartographer most famous for his maps of New Netherland (New York), New England and the Atlantic Seaboard, is a hand-colored engraving, a double-hemisphere with California as a peninsula, and showing parts of the coast of Australia and Van Dieman's Land (i.e. Tasmania). Diagrams of the solar system appear at upper and lower center, and scenes with allegorical figures representing the four known continents illustrate each corner. Celestial spheres are featured in the right hemisphere at bottom, and descriptive text about recent discoveries is found in the left hemisphere.

These are gorgeous maps, with estimates ranging from $400 - $550 (Rogers) to $4700 - $6300 (Hondius).
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Images courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions, with our thanks.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Medusa in the Kidneys, 1608

by Stephen J. Gertz


I write between bouts of agony.

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To have pain all your own
Life as one plaintive groan
All equipoise blown
An unyielding moan
In the torture zone
Like a kidney stone.


Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, and Peter the Great had them. Francis Bacon, Louis Napoleon III, Lyndon Johnson. and Samuel Pepys endured them. Oliver Cromwell, Michel de Montaigne, Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis XIV, and George IV experienced them. And so have Joe Schmo from Kokomo and Jane Doe from Boise, Idaho. In a town without pity kidney stones are the pits.

It's like waking up to see Medusa staring at you and, soon, your body begins to turn to stone, first stop, petrified kidneys, nephrolithiasis. It's the Granite State with apologies to New Hampshire.

So, when last week I experienced a boulder on the way to the bladder and stuck, I consulted my geologist, Dr. Gravelstein. He gave me a bottle of Vicodin, Flomax to keep the pipes open and urine flowin', and a rare book with orders to take the Vike as necessary for pain, drink plenty of fluids, and read the tome, TID.


Johann Georg Schenck's Lithogenesia sive de microcosmi membris petrefactis (1608), is the first book on petrifaction in and of parts of the human body, including gallstones, kidney stones, and  (drumroll, cymbal-crash) petrified immature fetuses in the uterus.

(As bizarre - and horrific for the bearer - as that sounds, I recently viewed a rerun of Law & Order Criminal Intent in which a woman carried the secret of her petrified fetus inside her womb for decades, leading her long-term boyfriend on with a story that her child was alive but seriously ill and institutionalized. He murders for money to support her non-existent daughter's care. Detective Goren builds a rock-solid case).

One of the engraved plates in its first and only edition depicts a thirty-seven year old woman from Sens who carried  a petrified fetus for years. In my imagination and pain I felt as if a petrified fetus was gestating in a ureter and very angry.

Calculi, or stones.

Johann-Georg Schenck of Grafenberg (d. 1620) was born at Freiburg in Breisgrau, in the second half of the sixteenth century. The son of noted physician Johannes Schenck von Grafenberg (1530-1598), he was Stadt-physikus at Hagenau in Alsace, successfully practiced medicine, yet found time to write and edit books on medicine and botany. He was the author of the first bibliography of gynecology, Pinax autorum qui gynaecia seu muliebra ex instituto scriptis exoluerunt et illustrarunt (1606).

Celsus edition of 1657.

Kidney calculi have been around since at least, of course, the Stone Age. Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC - c. 50 BC) wrote about them in De Medicina (editio princeps 1478), the first printed medical book.

The author, attended by Dr. Gravelstein and two sisters of mercy.
The pharmacist, at right, enters to the rescue with narcotics.

Renal colic, the umbrella term for the presentation of a stone - waves of excruciating spasms to the back, flank and abdomen as the ureter attempts to dislodge it, severe vagal syndrome vomiting, dizziness, sweating, excessive salivation - seems too innocent, as if all that's necessary is to be thrown over your mother's shoulder and patted on the back for comfort. Coliques nephretiques - the same thing - sounds much more exotic and, dosed with absinthe and opium, a perfectly civilized way to go insane with pain.


Though highly unorthodox, getting your kidneys thoroughly massaged, washed and rinsed is quite refreshing and therapeutic, particularly when performed by Dr. Gravelstein's comely RN, Shirley Kim. There is, however, a consequence to being kidney-washed. I'm now the Manchurian Candidate of nephrology, murderous around kidney pie, kidney beans, kidney-shaped swimming pools, anything kidney; surely an assassin. Me, not Shirley, my North Korean kidney-handler.

A Gal. A Glove. A Kidney Stone. Danny Fisher Was Down for the Count.

We close today with a snapshot at one of the great, apocryphal novels dealing with coliques nephretiques. Who can forget the best-selling schlockmeister's third book?
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SCHENCK, Johann Georg. Lithogenesia sive de microcosmi membris petrefactis: et de calculis eidem microcosmo per varias matricis innatis: pathologia historica, per theorian & autopsian demonstrata... Francofurti: Ex officina typographica Matthiae Beckeri, sumptibus viduae Theodori de Bry, & duorum ejus filiorum (printed by Matthias Becker for the widow of Theodor de Bry and his two sons), 1608. First (only) edition. Small quarto (192 x 155 mm). [14], 69, [7] pp. With engraved printer's device on title-page, fifteen small woodcut illustrations, and six full-page engravings.

Bibliotheca Osleriana 3933. Ferguson II, p. 332. Krivatsy 10403. Welcome I, 5830.
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Images of Schenck's Lithogenesia... courtesy of Antiquariat Forum, with our thanks.

Urodonal ad #1 (1920) courtesy of Amazon.

Urodonal ad #2 (1915) courtesy of CQOut, with our thanks.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Lions of the New York Public Library Never Looked Like This

by Stephen J. Gertz

The Fox and the Grapes.

No, that's not a wolf whistling at the hubba-hubba behind him.

Patience and Fortitude, sculptor Edward Clark Potter's marble lions that majestically flank the entrance to the New York Public's Library's classic Beaux-Arts building at Fifth Avenue and 42d Street in Manhattan, will never be confused with Jean-Baptiste Oudry's figures flanking the fountain in his illustration to Jean de La Fontaine's Le Renard et les Raisins. They kept their clothes on.

A traditional tale from Aesop, The Fox and the Grapes tells the tale of a fox who desires what he cannot have, luscious grapes beyond his reach. In La Fontaine's hands it has become one of most popular of Aesop's fables, and the story gave rise to the English idiomatic expression, "sour grapes" - embitterment by what another has that you cannot have. As related in Phaedra, the point is, "The glorious despises what he cannot have."

Oudry's grand designs for the illustrations to La Fontaine's tales are the most popular and acclaimed. The designs began life as tapestry and were adapted to print by engraver Charles-Nicolas Cochin.


Patience and Fortitude™ were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers after Potter's models. Though they carried various nicknames since their debut in 1911, New York Mayor  Fiorello La Guardia gave the male lions the names that have stuck; he felt that those qualities were what New York needed the most to endure and survive the Great Depression.

Nude maidens as NYPL sentinels would certainly have caught attention but, no matter how dignified and proud as those in The Fox and the Grapes, the fable's message, however apt during severe economic distress, was not the positive, ennobling sentiment needed to get New Yorkers through the day. Through the night, perhaps, but not in broad daylight.
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LA FONTAINE [Jean de]. Fables choisies, mises en vers. Paris (Desaint & Saillant/ Durand), 1755-1759. Four octavo volumes (421 x 285 mm). I: (2), xxx, xviii, 124pp. II: (2), ii, 135, (1)pp. III: (2), iv, 146pp. IV: (2), ii, 188 pp. Frontispiece and 275 full-page plates hors texte, after Jean-Baptiste Oudry by Charles-Nicolas Cochin, engraved by Cochin himself, and Aliamet, Aubert, Aveline, Baquoy, Beauvarlet, Cars, Choffard, Dupuis, Flipart, Galimard, Le Mire, Moitte, Radigues, Surugue, Tardieu, Teucher, and numerous others. Bound in the first volume, the portrait of Oudry by Tardieu after Largillière (“found in some copies but not integral” per Ray). 

Ray 5. Cohen-de Ricci 548-550, supplement 280. Portalis 483-489. Girardi (1913). Rochambeau 86. Tchemerzine VI.390f.. Sander 1065. Brunet III.753. Graesse IV.73. Guilmard p. 150. Cicognara 1125. Bland (1958) p. 209f.. Blumenthal, Joseph: Art of the Printed Book 1455-1955 (New York, 1973), p. 29. Regency to Empire 41. Opperman, Hal: J.B. Oudry (Fort Worth, 1983), p. 146f.
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Image from La Fontaine courtesy of Ars Libri Ltd., with our thanks.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A French Almanac for Americans, 1802

by Stephen J. Gertz


Almanac americain pour l’année 1802 was a French almanac for the American market, a literary miscellany preceded by a calendar that was modeled on successful French and German versions of the period.


Within are four stylish hand-colored neoclassical Parisian costume plates “très gentiment coloriés” (Grand-Carteret).


There are also three engraved portraits, of Lavater, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (after Peale).


The almanac includes an essay on Johann Kaspar Lavater; La France toujours la même: Dialogue; Histoire de Pérourou, ou du raccommodeur de soufflets, écrit par lui-même; La perruque blonde; an extract des voyages du Chevalier de Chastellux, by the major general who fought in the American Revolutionary War with the French expeditionary force; etc.


To hammer the point that France and the United States share Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité the stipple-engraved allegorical frontispiece depicts Lady Liberty feeding the American eagle, with the American flag and French revolutionary cap in the distant clouds. Liberty crushes monarchy under her right foot. The inclusion of the extract from the writings of Chevalier François-Jean de Chastellux, third in command of the French forces at Yorktown, serves as a reminder that without France the Americans would not have defeated the British, secured their independence, elevated French fries to All-American status and sacrificed Idaho as an unofficial department of France with the Potato Growers of Idaho represented in the French Parliament.
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Almanac americain pour l’année 1802. A Philadelphie [Paris], [1801]. Octavo. (26), 224pp. Stipple-engraved allegorical frontispiece. Seven engraved plates hors texte, four hand-colored costume plates, and three uncolored portraits. Engraved title-page.

Publisher’s hand-colored engraved boards with ornamental border, with antique vases (different on each cover) within medallions and ornamental borders.

Grand-Carteret 1373. Shaw & Shoemaker 42. Drake, M. Almanacs 10572.
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Images courtesy of Ars Libri Ltd., with our thanks.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Public Amusements in Paris With Gustave Doré

by Stephen J. Gertz


A remarkable and very important suite of lithographs from early in Doré’s career, Les différents publics de Paris contains twenty-one original lithographs, superbly colored by a contemporary (publisher’s?) hand.


The series depicts Parisian society at the circus, the theater, the public garden, at magic performances, a puppet show in the park, a reading in the imperial library (this is a particularly famous Doré image), and at the amphitheater of the medical school, among other settings.`


“These twenty lithographs are studies of massed humanity, ranging from audiences at the great Parisian theaters to the crowds at a wrestling match or a Punch and Judy show. Without exception they are striking in conception and fertile in detail... each of Doré’s scenes is based on close observation, and the album provides valuable testimony to the manners of the day."


“[‘Les Travaux d’Hercule’] and the more imposing albums which followed [Les différents publics de Paris] remain too little known even among Doré’s ardent admirers because of their great scarcity. They show the artist at his most engaging, bearing witness to a lively sense of humor, now broad, now sophisticated, which was muted in his later illustrations” (Ray p. 327).


“All three of these lithographic albums are rare. Most copies were long ago taken apart to sell the lithographs individually.


"There are also full-color versions of the Ménagerie and Publics, and those are particularly desirable” (Dan Malan,  Gustave Doré, Adrift on Dreams of Splendor. A Comprehensive Biography and Bibliography).


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DORÉ, Gustave. Les différents publics de Paris. [Paris]: Au Bureau du Journal Amusant, n.d. [1854]. Lithographic printed title and 20 contemporary hand-coloured lithographic plates, all mounted on stubs. Oblong quarto (262 x 350 mm.).

Ray: Art of the French Illustrated Book 241; Rahir: Bibliothèque de l’amateur, 404; Beraldi VI.30; Leblanc 90.
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Images courtesy of Ars Libri Ltd., with our thanks.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Vivid Criminal Slang on the City Streets of France

by Stephen J. Gertz


L'Argot de "Milieu" was a groundbreaking and influential dictionary of criminal and low-life French slang, born of the fascination with crime and criminals that had swept early 20th century France in the wake of modern advances in forensics  that had allowed, for the first time, the tracking, apprehension, and prosecution of criminals using scientific methods.


Author Jean Lacassagne (1886-1960), who also wrote under the pseudonym, François Seringard,  was the son of the great Lyon forensic criminologist, Alexandre Lacassagne (1843-1924), was head of the Lyon prison medical service, and took a lifelong interest in the darker side of human nature, conducting many studies of French criminal subculture. This book was reprinted and revised several times but the first edition, with its striking color illustration by French painter, illustrator, and engraver André Dignimont (1891-1965, and known for his stylish erotica), is scarce.


Lacassagne fils became the doctor of a regiment during the First World War, and received his Ph.D. in 1916. He was also one of founders of l'Association républicaine pour favoriser les études médicales 1923-1924, becoming one of the most active members.  He became a knight in the Legion of Honor in 1925.

As Clinical Director at Antiquaille he was a specialist in venereal diseases, treating prostitutes and detainees. In 1945 he received a medal from the prison for twenty five years of service.


Like his father, he was extremely interested in criminal anthropology.  He published articles and books inspired by his meetings and correspondence with criminals. He observed their tattoos, studied their slang, investigated their history, psychology, and collected their reminiscences.

Writer of the Preface, Francis Carco, fantaisiste poet, novelist, and art critic, published several works in Parisian argot depicting the street life of Montmartre. 
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 LACASSAGNE. Docteur Jean. L'Argot du "Milieu." Préface de Francis Carco. Paris: Albin Michel, n.d. [1928]. First edition. Octavo (186 x 119 mm), xxii, 293, [1] pp. Pictorial wrappers, illustrated by André Dignimont.

Reprinted in 1935, 1948, 1951, and 1955. The edition of 1935 reproduces the original wrapper illustration but with the title text design revised.
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Images from L'Argot du "Milieu" courtesy of Justin Croft Antiquarian Books, with our thanks.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hollywood Goes to the Library

by Stephen J. Gertz

The staff of the Greene County Public Library of Ohio has put together an entertaining video montage of library scenes from film and television. 

It includes footage from Seinfeld, Sesame Street, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, The Golden Girls, No Man of Her Own, The Shawshank Redemption, Philadelphia Story, Philadelphia, Harry and the Hendersons, Party Girl, Ghostbusters, Clean Shaven, Phineas and Ferb, The Music Man, Mr. Bean, Shadow of a Doubt, The Breakfast Club, Only Two Can Play, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Twisted Nerve, The Man Who Never Was, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, JAG, The FBI Story, Wings of Desire, Se7en, Harry Potter, With Honors, All the President's Men, and Strike Up the Band. 

Check it out:



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With thanks to our friends at LISNews for the lead.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Planet of the Monkey-Men, 1827

by Sam Simian

Sam Simian is the former proprietor of Darwin's Body Shop in the former Leopoldville in the former Belgian Congo ("Ubangi, We Fixy") in  the current Africa. Now, having made his fortune in used Mongolian auto parts, he is master of all that he surveys from his eponymous hilltop castle overlooking California's central coast.


I'm not happy about all that I survey. At the moment, I'm surveying Monkey-ana, or Men in Miniature.


It's a suite of twenty-four mordantly satiric caricatures by Thomas Landseer (1795-1880), brother of Edwin Landseer (1802-1873), the famed painter of horses, dogs, and stags, and captioned with quotations from Shakespeare, Pope, etc.  It is one of the few works engraved by Landseer after his own designs, was originally issued in six parts, each with four etchings, bound in pictorial wrappers reiterating the engraved design of the title-page, on chamois-colored paper, and  originally published in 1827. Its engravings depict human men as members of my family.

How do you spell condescending? Remove the mask and all humans are monkeys? I don't think so. Remove the mask and all humans are even more human than you thought, and it ain't pretty. Thank Hanuman, the Monkey God, for masks (though the last syllable of his name is a scandal).


You wanna parody the vices of men, fine by me; it's more fun than a barrel of humans with pistols and a bottle of Jack Daniels and less dangerous. I resent, however, the choice of my brethren as somehow, somewhere below humanity on the tree of life yet ripe for close comparison. From my branch the view is the other way around. If Darwin was right and men are descended from monkeys, then it's time for us monkeys to do the right thing, travel back in time, commit mass suicide, and stop evolution in its tracks. You think we wanted our legacy to be genetic ancestors of Glenn Beck?


In 1971 I dropped LSD. Ten hours later, as it wore off, it seemed to slowly drain from my head, descend my torso, run down my legs and exit my big toes into a pool on the floor. Twelve hours after that I saw an  aging macaque in Pucci and pearls walking a Pomeranian on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. I wasn't sure whether the leash was attached to the dog or the dowager and who was taking who for a walk. It did my heart good, though, to see a monkey mocking a denizen of The Bistro, the dearly defunct hangout for Hollywood primates past their prime.


Suffice it to say, if you're going to depict a kangaroo court kindly depict kangaroos.

I've just about had it in general with anthropormorphic literature and art, and I'm not alone. Some of my best friends are butterflies and they're still pissed-off at Grandville for what he did to them in Les Papillons Métamorphoses Terrestres de Peuples de l'Airs. A pear I know takes Charles Philipon's caricature of his great-great-great-great grandfather as Louis-Philippe personally. Whatever you do, don't bring up Varin's L'Empire des Légumes to an eggplant. Purple with rage is all I can say.


If you want to satirize a despot don't look to monkeys for inspiration.  King Kong was a gentle giant who loved blonds and whose only political gripe was with NYC authorities for approving the Empire State Building without provision of a single piton or Alpine cock ring to give him a leg up. The rest we know.

How 'bout Mighty Joe Young? You croon Beautiful Dreamer to the big guy and what does he do? He gets all goofy and smiley, lies down and plays with flowers. You sing Beautiful Dreamer to a mafia gorilla and you're dead meat - no offense to gorillas intended.

Thomas Landseer "became one of the most gifted and innovative engravers of his generation, being particularly adept in the use of textural etching. Much of his career was taken up with reproducing the works of his brother, Edwin...he subsequently made prints after all of his brother's most famous works...In all, he made more than 125 engravings after his brother's paintings. He also produced original etchings, including the book Monkey-ana, or Men in Miniature...At the Royal Academy he exhibited both engravings and original works of art, but it was not until 1868 that he was finally honoured by being elected ARA. In 1871 he edited and published Life and Letters of William Bewick, Artist, a book about his former colleague" (Oxford Grove Dictionary of Art).

A word to the wise, Landseer: Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty Homo Sapien. You ain't gonna make a human outta me!
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LANDSEER, Thomas. Monkey-ana, or Men in Miniature. Designed and Etched by Thomas Landseer. [London]: F.G. Moon, August 1827. Engraved title and twenty-four  engraved  plates on china paper mounted on wove rag (watermark A.H. Holdsworth & R.S. Phillips, Dartmouth.) Folio. Three-quarter leather over contemporary marbled boards.

A second edition appeared in 1828, London: Moon, Boys, and Graves.

British Museum Satires 15638.
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Images courtesy of Ars Libri Ltd., with our thanks.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Bauhaus Bird Paradise of Carl Ernst Hinkefuss

by Stephen J. Gertz


In 1929, graphic designer Carl Ernst Hinkefuss (1881-1970) published, Mein Vogel Paradies (My Bird Paradise), a tie-bound modern block book for children featuring stunning color lithographs depicting abstracted forms of birds reduced to their fundamental forms, accompanied by verse about each individual bird, both text (printed in silver ink) and images printed on black paper. A two-page introduction by Hinkefuss encourages children to create their own pictures based upon his simple designs.


Carl Ernst Hinkefuss was a popular Bauhaus illustrator known for modernist graphic design work that integrated art with commercial values. He did a great deal of advertising design for Hamburg Amerika oceanliners. Hinkefuss was also the editor of the design periodical Qualität, 1920-1932.


He "trained as a painter, graphic artist, and architect at the Königliche Kunstschule and the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin at the turn of the century. While still a student, Hinkefuss became interested in the idea of artists collaborating with the business world, and after graduation he became a commercial graphic designer. From 1905 to early 1910, he worked in the advertising and publicity departments of several firms in Berlin and Dessau, and then later in 1910 set out as an independent publicist in Berlin" (Online Archive of California). 

He ultimately partnered with Wilhelm Deffke (1887-1950) in Wilhemwerk, their commercial design house.

Prospectus for Mein Vogel Paradies, 1929.

According to the prospectus for the book, it was produced using a fifteen color offset-lithography process. The prospectus also mentions a gift box but, apparently, it was never produced; no copies in a publisher's gift box have ever been seen.

Mein Vogel Paradies is an extremely rare book. OCLC/KVK note only four copies in institutional holdings worldwide. According to the ABPC Index, 1923-2011, no copies have ever come to auction. Fine copies, if you can find them, now sell in the low five figures.
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HINKEFUSS, Carl Ernst. Mein Vogel Paradies. Gesamtwerk von Karl Ernst Hinkefuss. [Berlin: Verlag International GMBH / Internationale Propaganda für Qualitatserzeugnisse], 1929. First edition, limited to 1500 copies signed by the artist. Quarto (11 5/8 x 8 1/4 in.). [14]  leaves on black paper printed in silver and fourteen other colors. Color lithographs. Color pictorial wrappers side-stitched with black string.
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Book images courtesy of Aleph-Bet Books, with our thanks.

Image of prospectus courtesy of Wilhelmwerke, with our appreciation.
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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Loose Cannon Essayist of Post-Revolution America

by Stephen J. Gertz


"As the people of America may not be informed who Peter Porcupine is, the celebrated manufacturer of lies, and retailer oi filth, I will give you some little account of this pestiferous animal. This wretch was obliged to abscond from his darling Old England to avoid being turned off into the other world before, what he supposed, his time. It may be well imagined, that in a land of liberty and flowing with milk and honey, his precipitate retreat could not have been owing to any offence committed against the government very honourable to himself.

"Gnawed by the worm that never dies, his own wretchedness would ever prevent him from making any attempt in favour of human happiness. His usual occupation at home was that of a garret-scribbler, excepting a little night-business occasionally, to supply unavoidable exigencies; Grubb-Street did not answer his purposes, and being scented by certain tipstaffs for something more than scribbling, he took a French leave for France. His evil genius pursued him here, and as his fingers were as long as ever, he was obliged as suddenly to leave the Republic" (Paul Hedgehog, from the Preface).

"This Paul Hedgehog I know nothing of. I can hardly suppose that he is one of my cousins at New-York: if he be, for the honor of our family, I hope that he is a bastard. Let them write on, till their old pens are worn to the stump: let the devils sweat; let them fire their balls at my reputation, till the very press cries out murder. If ever they hear me whine or complain, I will give them leave to fritter my carcass and trail my guts along the street, as the French sans-culottes did those of Thomas Mauduit" (Peter Porcupine, from the Preface).

Porcupine and Hedgehog are one and the same animal, William Cobbett, the loose cannon of post-Revolution American journalism, an essayist who never let propriety get in the way of a colorful, unmercifully sarcastic attack based upon facts evidenced from his imagination. He was, in that regard, not unlike a few modern, self-pitying (and pitiful) political pundits on cable-TV: wildly irresponsible yet irresistibly entertaining for all except the objects of his scorn and their allies. His essays were, essentially, voodoo dolls with a volley of porcupine quills shot into them, his political opponents pin-cushions, his enemies dart boards. Times have changed. Cobbett, no matter where he settled, soon had to flee the consequences of his writing. Now, wacko pundits get book deals, the reward for throwing brickbats in the modern world.

William Cobbett (1763-1835). "British journalist, served in the army in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and fled to the U.S. (1792) to escape litigation resulting from his unsubstantiated exposés of army frauds. In Philadelphia he opened a bookstore, published Porcupine's Gazette (1797-1799), and with delightful effrontery got into one scrape after another, reflected in his vituperative Federalist pamphlets against the Republican friends in France. These include A Bone to Gnaw for the Democrats (1795); A Kick for a Bite (1795); The Scare-Crow (1796); and the scurrilous Life of Tom Paine (1796). He also attacked Joseph Priestley as a radical and infidel in Observations on the Emigration of Dr. Priestley (1794). This era is described in good homespun prose in the Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine (1796)" (Oxford Companion to American Literature).

In March of 1797, he attacked Noah Webster for "grammatical inaccuracy." In this assault with a poison quill, Cobbett declared Webster an "illiterate booby," "inflated self-sufficient pedant," a "very great hypocrite," and "something of a traitor." He didn't mince words; he minced the objects of his scorn, slicing and dicing with the brio of a master chef with a santoku knife. It was not unusual for his subjects to wake-up and discover that they had been julienned. He hurled invective like an Olympic hammer-thrower.

In one of his wilder moments he accused Dr. Benjamin Rush of criminal malpractice in the death of George Washington. In this, another fine mess he'd gotten himself into, he was convicted of libel, fled to England until things cooled-off, once a Tory became a radical, and eventually returned to the U.S.

The Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine, "In brief...describes Cobbett's boyhood; flight to London; clerkship to an attorney; career in the army, mainly in New Brunswick, 1784-1791; discharge as Sergeant Major; marriage; to France in March 1792; to New York October 1792; letter from Jefferson November 5, 1792; his dispute with Thomas Bradford; the payments made to him by Bradford, ending in March 1796; accusations he was in British pay" (Gaines, Pierce W. William Cobbett and the United States 1792-1830. A Bibliography with Notes and Abstracts). 

While well-represented in institutional collections, this book is a true scarcity in the marketplace.  Since ABPC began, in 1923, to index auction results only two copies have come to market, in 1938 and 1957. A faint penciled note to the titlepage verso indicates that this copy was bought for $1.50 in January, 1878, from Hockwood, Brooks & Co. It's now a four-figure book.

It is a measure of his sarcastic, ironic, sometimes self-deprecating humor that the subtitle to Cobbett's The Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine is, A Sure and Infallible Guide for All Enterprising Young Men Who Wish To Make a Fortune by Writing Pamphlets. Christopher Hitchens, a relentlessly  more talented slayer of saints and dragons whose relationship to the truth, irony, and wit was keen rather than crazy-like-Cobbett, could not have expressed it better.
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[COBBETT, William]. The Life and Adventures of Peter Porcupine, with a Full and Fair Account of All His Authoring Transactions; Being a Sure and Infallible Guide for All Enterprising Young Men Who Wish To Make a Fortune by Writing Pamphlets. By Peter Porcupine Himself. Philadelphia: Printed for, and Sold by, William Cobbett, 1796.

First edition. Octavo (8 x 4 3/8 in; 203 x 113 mm). viii, [9]-58, [1, advert.], [1, blank] pp.

This copy bound in later red calf in period-style over original early 19th-century marbled boards. Gilt-lettered spine. Light scattered foxing. Bookplate ghost to front free endpaper. Bookplates of Newburyport Athenaeum (Massachusetts) and L.F. Dimmick, pastor of the North Church in Newburyport, to front paste-down endpaper.

Howes C-519. Evans 30212. Gaines 19b, variant with misaligned type on p. 19 corrected.
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Image courtesy of David Brass Rare Books, with our thanks.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Rare Book Dealer Collective

by Stephen J. Gertz

The illustration is from a poster by Albert Sterner (1863-1946)
advertising a lending library for modern literature in 1903 .

From each according to their inventory, to each according to their needs, The Collective, a group of seven ABAA members, has just issued its first catalog. While it is not unusual for two dealers to team-up, it is extraordinary for a group to do so.

The Gang of Seven - The Book Shop LLC, Lux Mentis, Tavistock Books, Book Hunter's Holiday, Anthology Books, Ken Sanders Rare Books, and B&B Rare Books - is a  cabal recently organized, I believe, during secret meetings at the home of Brad and Jen Johnson, proprietors of The Book Shop LLC. The Johnsons run a flophouse for rare booksellers of their acquaintance visiting Southern California, and I imagine that the plan for The Collective was hatched during a meeting of lively mood and ardent spirits. As Ian Kahn of Lux Mentis is an evangelical gourmand, there is no doubt that delicacies were served and savored.


Created especially for the San Francisco Book Fair and the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena, CA, there are a few delicacies from all concerned served up in this catalog for you to consider.

Lest there be any doubt, The Collective is a commune of hard-core capitalists. This is the rare book business.

I'm featuring this catalog today simply because it provides an excellent solution to the ever-spiraling cost of print catalogs, and is a sterling example of how our trade, despite being highly competitive, is absolutely dependent upon the cooperation and trust of its members.
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A print or PDF copy of The Collective's catalog may be had by contacting Brad Johnson at The Book Shop LLC.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

All Points Bulletin: "Pure" Pickwick Papers

by Stephen J. Gertz


Attention! Calling all cars: Be on the lookout for Mr. Pickwick, a person of interest in the posthumous case of his posthumous papers, originally published as a 20-part serial, then immediately in book form bound from unsold parts yet impossible to find in that format with all first issue text and all first state plate points.

Officers are urged to use caution in the pursuit of this missing book, which contains more points than a bed of nails, and can seriously wound the unwary dealer or collector who is not careful. Dickens bibliographers Haskell and Cleaver, er, Hatton and Cleaver note forty-eight first issue text points, eighty first and second issue plate points; a total of 128 points to pay close attention to. As with all collectible books, points are money, the more first issue points, the more valuable the book. Correctly collating this book is a tedious yet crucial process for dealer and collector.

No surviving copies of Pickwick... in book form have been found with all first issue text points present; there are no "pure" copies. The renowned William Self copy lacks the half-title, possesses only four Hatton and Cleaver first issue points, and has plates that are not all first state. The publisher's original cloth binding is scarcely found in fine condition; typically, the gilt has faded from a distressed spine at the head and tail.

Recently, while walking my beat, I stopped and held for questioning what appeared to be the finest copy extant of Charles Dickens' The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club in book form. A thorough frisking revealed twenty-one of Hatton and Cleaver's forty-eight first issue text points, all plates in their first state, in as fine as can be, near untouched original binding. Eureka!

To possess just shy of fifty percent of Hatton and Cleaver's first issue text points  was quite remarkable. Even more remarkable, however, is that Walter E. Smith, in Charles Dickens in the Original Cloth, which supersedes Hatton and Cleaver, notes seven unequivocal first issue points for the book and this copy possessed six of them:

Page 260, line 29, "hodling" for "holding."
Page 276: Figure "7" in page number slightly above other figures.
Page 341, line 1: Correct reading of "inde-licate;" line 5 correct reading of "inscription;" with stab holes.
Page 342, line 5: "S. Veller" uncorrected.
Page 400, line 21: "this friends" for "his friends."
Page 432, headline: "F" in "OF" imperfect.

(The seventh first issue point occurs on page 25: signature "E" missing from foot of page).

It also contained the two "suppressed" plates by Robert William Buss from Part Three, The Cricket Match (Ch. 7, opposite p. 69), and The Arbor Scene (Ch. 8, opposite p. 74), "neither of which gave Dickens satisfaction" (Hatton & Cleaver, p. 20), in their first state.  "Buss, hastily hired to replace Seymour as an illustrator for The Pickwick Papers, was just as hastily dismissed" (Cohen, Charles Dickens and his Original Illustrators, p. 51). The Buss plates ceased to appear after November 1836. 

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club was Dickens’s first novel, a publishing phenomenon which transformed the obscure journalist into England’s most famous author in a matter of months. The serial was originally intended to be primarily a vehicle for the cartoons of Robert Seymour, until he committed suicide after the first number was published. Robert William Buss then took over, but he was inexperienced in steel engraving and was fired. Hablot Knight Browne (“Phiz”), who was to become Dickens’s chosen collaborator for the next two decades, stepped in. Phiz illustrated Parts IV-XX, re-engraved the Seymour plates, and entirely replaced the Buss plates for later issues.

The first edition in book format was made up from the original parts, with wrappers and advertisements discarded. That is to say, it was put together with whatever parts the publisher still had on hand. By that time, most if not all of the parts in first issue had been sold, and Chapman and Hall mixed and matched with later issues. As this was Dickens' first novel the original print runs for the first issue could not have been large; this is the likely reason why it is impossible to find copies of the book with all first issue points. None  existed in the first place and all copies of the book are a mash-up of leftover parts, whatever issue. Though Smith assigns no priority to many points in Hatton and Cleaver, the market reality is that many collectors relish a copy's place on the points scorecard. You can never reach perfection but you can try to get as close to it as possible. It's a very human ambition.

If you find a copy of Pickwick (or most Dickens novels) with plates clean as a whistle, beware. They are routinely seen oxidized, moderately to heavily, with dark toning, broad or narrow, at the margins. If found so, there's an excellent chance that they have been washed by a restorer. Stick your nose down to the plate and take a whiff. Washed paper has a distinct chemical odor, however subtle.

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club originally appeared in twenty numbers, bound in nineteen monthly parts, the last part forming a double number, from April 1836-November 1837, except for a lapse of one month—June 1837—when Part 15 was deferred. It was published in book form on November 17, 1837” (Smith).

Officers in the field who encounter a copy of Pickwick... in book form containing all first issue points  and first state plates are advised to contact their duty sergeant immediately and alert the media. The suspect is suspect but if proven innocent is the successful result of the one of the most intense bookhunts in literary history that authorities gave up on long ago.
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DICKENS, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. With Forty-Three Illustrations, by R. Seymour and Phiz. London: Chapman and Hall, 1837.

First edition, primarily first issue, in book form, with 21 of 48 of Hatton and Cleaver's first issue text points present, and all first state plates, of Dickens’s first novel, bound from the original monthly parts, with stab-holes present in the inner margins of gatherings. Octavo (8 3/4 x 5 1/2 inches; 221 x 140 mm.). xiv, [1, directions to the binder], [1, errata], 609, [1, blank] pp. Complete with half-title and forty-three first state engraved plates by Seymour, Buss, and “Phiz” (including frontispiece and vignette title), with the Seymour plates from the first steels and the “Phiz” plates from early steels, all without titles or imprints.

Original purplish-black fine diaper grain cloth, without any fading or sunning whatsoever. Covers paneled in blind and spines ruled and paneled in blind and lettered in gilt. Original pale yellow coated endpapers. Minimal rubbing to corners and the bare minimum of fading to spine, but there is absolutely - and amazingly - no wear to spine extremities and the gilt on the spine is bright. Rear endpapers slightly oxidized. Plates oxidized, as usual, chiefly at the edges, the frontispiece and engraved vignette title heavier than the others.  The front inner hinge has been near invisibly and miraculously restored.

Eckel, p. 17. Gimbel A16. Hatton and Cleaver, pp. 1-88. Johannsen, pp. 1-75. Smith, Dickens, I, 3.
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Images courtesy of David Brass Rare Books, with our thanks.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Writing Parrot On Rare Parrot Books

by Albert

Today's guest blogger is Albert the Writing Parrot, a thirty-four year old Yellow-Naped Amazon, Booktryt's mascot, my ward since fledged, and, pathetically, my most successful long-term relationship. He knows more about these books than I do. If his writing voice sounds similar to mine do not be surprised. He is, after all, a parrot  - SJG.


I'm delighted to take pen in zygodactyl foot and contribute to Booktryst today. Thirty-fours years after Gertz tried to teach me how to say, "I want a great big pizza," I'm pleased to report what will soon become apparent: My vocabulary has dramatically increased, and my diction is poifect.

Grand Eclectus Parrots, male (L) and female (R).

It has been my experience that all parrot lovers are a little tetched in the head.  You say "Hello" to a parrot freak and they get all gushy, "Oh, he talked!" like it's the eighth wonder of the world and you're the first parrot in history to throw a vocal crumb to a human. Psittacosis, aka Parrot Fever, is not confined to bacterial activity; parrot people are omnivorous, fervent and  gentle suckers who will consume any parrot-related product, art, toy, or miscellaneous tshoschke. Money is no object.

Alexandrine Parakeet.

Yet a parrot lover who owns a $6,000 hyacinthine macaw will not spring for first editions of the great parrot books; they go for the reprints, of which there are many. I don't get it. They'd rather spend the money to acquire another parrot, as if they were collecting books. Hey, I'm a parrot and I like parrots as much as the next guy but tell me, when was the last time a book left droppings on your shoulder? Does a book perch on your fork and hijack food on the way to your mouth?? Chew the furniture? We're like dogs with wings only our bite is worse than our bark (though my bark is poifect Pekingese).

Rose-Hill Parakeet.

Then again, how many books can fly, psychotically chuckle, or demand Italian comfort food?

Hyacinthine Macaw.

Edward Lears's magnificent Illustrations of the Family Psittacidae, or Parrots (1832);  Selby's Natural History of Parrots (1836); W.T. Greens's Parrots in Captivity (1884); the Duke of Bedford's Parrots and Parrot-Like Birds in Aviculture (1929);  Joseph Forshaw and William T. Cooper's modern classic Parrots of the World (Melbourne, 1973); Rosemary Low's The Parrots of South America (1972), Parrots Their Care and Breeding (1980), Amazon Parrots (1983), and Lories and Lorikeets, the Brush-Tongued Parrots (1977); even Stroud's Digest on the Diseases of Birds (1939) by Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz; and many more. Don't get me started on the great ornithology and natural history color-plate books featuring members of my fine feathered family, eg., William Jardine's Naturalist Library (1836). I've seen most all, antiquarian through modern.

Blue-Breasted Lory.

C'mon, parrot peeps, get crackin' and start collectin'! [Editor's note: translated into parrotese, this may be interpreted as a gentle nudge or emphatic nip to exposed flesh].

Leadbetter's Cockatoo.

The other day Gertz shows me The Speaking Parrots (1884) by Dr. Karl Russ (1833-1899), the first translation into English of  Die sprechenden papageien. Ein hand- und lehrbuch (Berlin: L. Gerschel, 1882), that book the first separate edition of volume three,  Die Papageien, of Russ' Die fremdländischen Stubenvögel, his ten-volume series (1878-1881) originally published in Magdeburg. Never seen it. Never looked at the color plates, never read it. I like it, and give it 5-Seeds, my highest rating, despite the fact that the otherwise stunning chromolithographs are not completely faithful to the true colors of the birds. I'm pleased it was translated; I've got enough problems with English, fuggetabout sprechenden Deutsche.

Yellow-Crowned Conure.

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I want to bring to your attention one of the strangest works in the annals of parrot literature, found in the August, 1981 issue of The Magazine of the Parrot Society, a British journal for the parrot-obssessed. The Brits are even more loony about parrots than Americans so, naturally, it accepted the following article by a feather-brained Yank.


I witnessed the incident at Casa Gertz leading to up to this therapy which,  performed on a duck or not, screamed quack. While Ba-Ba, a Tres Marias Amazon and the bane of my existence,  cockatiels Felix and Oscar, and The Canary With No Name watched, Gerald McBoing-Boing, a Yellow-Backed Lory, insanely attacked Pépe, a Scarlet Macaw, four times his size in another weight class entirely. Macaw bit toe of Lory. Lory didn't quit. Lory had to be separated from macaw before macaw ate lunch. Toe required amputation. Gertz, who received his veterinary degree via mail order from a diploma-mill in Ulan Bator while working as a physical therapy aide for a coked-up PT at a health club in Los Angeles, performed the procedure and post-surgical rehab. Gertz was a prodigy; damn if it didn't work! He showed me a copy of the article when it was published. After ripping it to shreds I was hungry. 

"I want a great big pizza."

Four years after Gertz hopelessly began teaching it to me the phrase finally emerged from my keratin lips. But I haven't said it since and have no plans to do so; ha-ha! I've moved on. I'm an autodidact; who needs Gertz? My ace impression of John Moschitta's speed-speaking FedEx commercials and whistling of Flight of the Bumble Bee are the talk of the parrot world. My friends and colleagues can't stop squawking about it.
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RUSS, Dr. Karl. The Speaking Parrots: A Scientific Manual. Translated by Leonora Schultze and Revised by Dr. Karl Russ. London: L. Upcott Gill, 1884. First edition in English. Octavo. viii, 296 pp.  Half-title. Eight chromolithograph plates including frontispiece, nine b&w plates, misc.illustrations. Advertisements at front and end. Publisher's pictorial cloth.

Nissen 804.
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