Friday, May 9, 2014

Sartain's Original Engraved Steel Plate Of Charlotte Brontë Portrait Comes To Market

by Stephen J. Gertz

The plate.
(Image surrounding engraved oval is a reflection off the plate while photographed).

The original steel plate of the mezzotint portrait of Charlotte Brontë engraved by John Sartain has surfaced.

Sartain (1808-1897), known as the "father of mezzotint engraving" in the U.S., produced the portrait, engraved after George Richmond's famous portrait in chalk, in Philadelphia c. 1857.

The 10 1/4 x 7 inch beveled steel plate, engraved with Sartain's signature (verso with dagger-and-S mark of John Sellers & Sons Sheffield, an English manufacturer of steel and copper plates for engravers, amongst other goods, with an office in New York), appears to have been made to accompany the long review essay, The Life of Charlotte Bronte, in the October 1857 issue of The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science and Art, which Sartain had an early financial interest in. 

A print struck from the plate.

John Sartain was arguably the foremost American engraver of his time and inarguably the pioneer of the mezzotint process in this country. He popularized the intricate printmaking process when he emigrated to the United States from England in 1830. His mezzotint prints possess a strong and rich texture that heightens and intensifies their aesthetic character.

Sartain was born in London in 1808. Left fatherless at the age of eight, he became responsible for the support of his family.  At age eleven, he took a job as assistant scene painter to an Italian pyrotechnist working at Covent Garden under Charles Kemble’s management and at Vauxhall Gardens in London. 

John Sartain.

In 1823, Sartain became an apprentice to engraver John Swaine (1775-1860), with whom he studied and worked for seven years.  Sartain also learned to paint, studying miniature painting with Henry Richter (1772-1857). He moved to Philadelphia in 1830.

He then produced engravings for various American periodicals including Gentleman’s Magazine, The Casket, and Godey’s Lady’s Magazine.  Sartain, beginning 1841, made quite a few  engravings for Graham’s Magazine, and, in 1849, he, along with William Sloanaker, bought the magazine for $5,000.  They changed the title to Sartain’s Union Magazine of Literature and Art. Among Graham's noted contributors were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Edgar Allan Poe (an assistant editor there, as well), who became a close, personal friend of Sartain.

Charlotte Brontë by George Richmond, 1850.

George Richmond (1809-1896), in his youth a disciple of William Blake, was a painter and draftsman with 326 portraits to his credit.

Brontë's publisher, George Smith of Smith Elder & Co., commissioned this portrait in chalk of the novelist from Richmond as a gift for Brontë's father, who saw in it "strong indications of the genius of the author." Novelist Elizabeth Gaskell recalled seeing the portrait hung in the parlour of the Haworth parsonage, and a copy of it appeared in her biography of Brontë.

Only a handful of likenesses of Charlotte Bronte have survived,  Richmond's portrait is by far the most celebrated, and Sartain's mezzotint is the finest engraving based upon it.

The plate exhibits the mezzotint (half-tone) process very well. Mezzotint achieves tone variations by working the plate with thousands of little dots made by a metal tool with small teeth called a "rocker." In printing, the tiny pits in the plate hold the ink when the face of the plate is wiped clean.  Subtle gradations of light and shade and richness in the print can be accomplished in skilled hands, and Sartain was a master of mezzotint, the first tonal process used in engraving, with aquatint to follow. Previously, tone and shading were possible only by employing hatching, cross-hatching, or stipple engraving, line or dot-based techniques that left a lot to be desired for nuanced effects.

There is no truth to the rumor I started that the Van Morrison-penned song, Mystic Eyes (recorded by Them, 1965), was inspired by the Richmond-Sartain portrait of Charlotte Brontë.

The plate is being offered by The 19th Century Rare Book & Photography Shop, of Maryland and New York.

[BRONTE, Charlotte]. SARTAIN, John. Charlotte Bronte mezzotint portrait. Original steel plate, signed in the plate by John Sartain after George Richmond. N.P., [Philadelphia], c. 1857.

Original beveled steel plate (7 x 10 ¼ in.),  Light surface wear, a small tarnish mark.

Brontë plate and print images courtesy of the 19th Century Rare Book & Photography Shop, with our thanks.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

1st Edition Of Emancipation Proclamation & Final Edition Of Lincoln's Hair

by Stephen J. Gertz

A copy of the first edition in book form of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document that freed the slaves in the Southern states during the American Civil War, will be offered by Heritage Auctions in its Americana and Political Signature sale May 24, 2014. It is estimated to sell for $5,000-$7,000.

The Proclamation in its preliminary form was issued by President Lincoln on September 22, 1862. It stressed military necessity as the basis for the freeing the slaves. The revised and final Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863. It was published as a broadside and simultaneously as a  seven-page booklet (3 1/8 x 2 1/8 in.) in pink wrappers in December 1862 by John Murray Forbes, a Boston Unionist who helped to raise troops, including the famous 54th Massachusetts Regiment. The booklet, seen above, was intended for distribution to Union troops who, in turn, could distribute copies to slaves in regions of the South occupied by Union forces.

It has the original thread binding and a brass grommet through pages 5-7 and the back cover. It is estimated that less than ten copies have survived.

Collectors of celebrity and historical hair will have their own stand on end and dance a jig in their follicles when Heritage offers five strands of Abraham Lincoln's scalp hair, part of a lock clipped while The Great Emancipator was on his deathbed. The hairs are estimated to sell for $1,000-$1,500.

The lock was originally owned by Dr. Charles Sabin Taft who was the second surgeon to treat Lincoln on the evening of his assassination. The five hairs are part of the most authenticated lock of Lincoln's hair extant. It was originally removed by Dr. Charles Leale, the first surgeon to arrive in aid of the dying President, so he could have clear access to examine and treat Lincoln's wound.

The lock was given to Mrs. Lincoln who soon returned it to Dr. Taft as a gift in appreciation of his efforts. Taft was a young surgeon who attended wounded Union troops at a Washington hospital and had become acquainted with the President during Lincoln's visits to the recovering soldiers. Dr. Taft willed the hair to his son, Charles C. Taft, who sold it to William H. Lambert in 1908.

Upon Lambert's death, the Lincoln hair was sold to Henry C. Hines, in whose possession it remained until 1993 when it was discovered in his estate. The small hairs are preserved in a plastic sleeve and barely perceptible in the image above. Copies of dozens of letters, documents and articles accompany the strands of hair as well as a Certificate of Authenticity from John Reznikoff of University Archives, holder of the Guinness World Record for the largest and most valuable collection of celebrity hair. A dubious distinction to the artifact-jaded, perhaps but I, for one, think DNA testing on literary celebrities' hair could be quite revealing; I'd like to get a load o' Georges Sand's genome, for historical purposes only, of course.

Included is a letter from Charles C. Taft to Civil War sergeant, writer, and famed collector of Lincoln memorabilia, Osborn H. I. Oldroyd (1842-1930), offering the lock of hair in 1907.

Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of yours from the 13th and contents noted. in reply will state that I will sell you the Lock of Hair and cuff button from the late President Abraham Lincoln for one thousand dollars. I consider this a very low figure for such precious articles, and were it not that I can use the money, I would not part with them at any price. Awaiting your reply.

Very truly yours,

Charles C. Taft

It is unknown how many strands of hair were in the original lock. Charles C. Taft split hairs, presenting six strands to John Hay, Lincoln's personal assistant and, later, Secretary of State. Hay had his six strands put inside a ring and in 1905 presented them to President Theodore Roosevelt upon the occasion of his inauguration with a letter that read "The hair in this ring is from the head of Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Taft cut it off the night of his assassination." The rest of the lock remained in Taft's possession.

His offer to Oldroyd declined, in 1908 Taft wrote to General James Grant Wilson offering the Lincoln Hair and a cuff button for sale. Wilson couldn't purchase the items but he alerted Major William H. Lambert. Lambert purchased the Lincoln items in a well documented sale on March 12, 1908.

For collectors of Americana, particularly of Lincolniana, these five strands of Lincoln's hair should be tantamount to five leaves from a Gutenberg Bible yet they are being offered for only $200-$300 per strand.

For perspective, a lock of Elvis Presley's hair sold in 2009 for $15,000. Our cultural priorities appear to be twisted; sic semper tyrannis, Jack. Perhaps if Lincoln had  sung Heartbreak Hotel while  wearing blue suede shoes on the night of the assassination his hair would be  appraised at higher price.

Not too long ago twelve strands of Michael Jackson's hair sold for $2,000, a price that seems rather low but the hairs were singed in 1984 while Jackson was shooting a Pepsi commercial and his head accidentally caught fire during the pyrotechnical display: condition is everything. Michael Jackson hair in fine condition would surely have been a thriller and fetched a great deal more.

Hair today, gone tomorrow, the auctioneer declared then ducked a tomato thrown his way.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions, with our thanks.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mark Twain, Collector Of Compliments

by Stephen J. Gertz

Little Montana Girl's Compliment
"She was gazing thoughtfully at a photograph of Mark Twain
on a neighbor's mantelpiece. Presently she said, reverently,
'We've got a Jesus like that at home only ours has more trimmings.'"

On January 11, 1908, The Lotos Club in New York City, one of the oldest literary associations in the United States, held a dinner in honor of one of its members, Samuel L. Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

Founded in New York City in 1870 by a group of young writers, journalists and critics, the Lotos Club initiated Twain to membership in 1873, who, waggish card that he was, immediately declared it “The Ace of Clubs.” At the dinner - attended by many luminaries - the guest of honor gave a speech announcing that he had become a collector of compliments. PBA Galleries is offering one of those compliments, in Twain's hand, in its Historic Autographs & Manuscripts with Archival Material sale May 8, 2014. It is estimated to sell for $2,500-$4,000.

As reported in the New York Times, January 12, 1908, Twain told the gathering:

"I wish to begin at the beginning, lest I forget it altogether. I wish to thank you for your welcome now and for that of seven years ago, which I forgot to thank you for at the time, also for that of fourteen years ago which I also forgot to thank you for. I know how it is; when you have been in a parlor and are going away, common decency ought to make you say the decent thing, what a good time you have had. Everybody does it except myself.

"I hope that you will continue that excellent custom of giving me dinners every seven years. I had had it on my mind to join the hosts of another world - I do not know which world - but I have enjoyed your custom so much that I am willing to postpone it for another seven years.

"The guest is in an embarrassing position, because compliments have been paid to him. I don't care whether you deserve it or not, but it is hard to talk up to it.

"The other night at the Engineers' Club dinner they were paying Mr. Carnegie here discomforting compliments. They were all compliments and they were not deserved, and I tried to help him out with criticisms and references to things nobody understood.

"They say that one cannot live on bread alone, but I could live on compliments. I can digest them. They do not trouble me. I have missed much in life that I did not make a collection of compliments, and keep them where I could take them out and look at them once in a while. I am beginning now. Other people collect autographs, dogs, and cats, and I collect compliments. I have brought them along.

"I have written them down to preserve them, and think that they're mighty good and exceedingly just."

[Twain began to read a few. The first, by essayist, critic, and editor Hamilton W. Mabie, declared that La Salle might have been the first man to make a voyage of the Mississippi, but that Mark Twain was the first man to chart light and humor for the human race].

"If that had been published at the time that I issued that book [Life on the Mississippi] it would have been money in my pocket. I tell you it is a talent by itself to pay complements gracefully and have them ring true. It's an art by itself.

"Now, here's one by my biographer. Well, he ought to know me if anybody does. He's been at my elbow for two years and a half. This is Albert Bigelow Paine:

"'Mark Twain is not merely the great writer, the great philosopher, but he is the supreme expression of the human being with its strengths and weaknesses.'

"What a talent for compression!"

[Novelist, editor, and critic William Dean Howells, Twain said, spoke of him as first of Hartford and ultimately of the solar system, not to say of the universe].

"You know how modest Howells is. If it can be proved that my fame reaches to Neptune and Saturn, that will satisfy even me. You know how modest and retiring Howells is, but deep down he is as vain as I am."

"Edison wrote: 'The average American loves his family. If he has any love left over for some other person he generally selects Mark Twain.'

"Now here's the compliment of a little Montana girl, which came to me indirectly. She was in a room in which there was a large photograph of me. After gazing at it steadily for a time, she said:

"'We've got a John the Baptist like that.' 

"She also said: 'Only ours has more trimmings.'

"I suppose she meant the halo.

[Since the offered "compliment" is numbered “4” and the Times reported the little girl’s compliment after three prior, this sheet was most likely Twain’s reading copy; he extemporaneously changed some of the words but it was basically the same story].

"Now here is a gold miner's compliment. It is forty-two years old. It was my introduction to an audience to which I lectured in a log schoolhouse. There were no ladies there. I wasn't famous then. They didn't know me. Only the miners were there with their breeches tucked into their boot tops and with clay all over them. They wanted someone to introduce me, and then selected a miner, who protested that he didn't want to do on the ground that he had never appeared in public. This is what he said:

"'I don't know anything about this man. Anyhow, I only know two things about him. One is he has never been in jail and the other is I don't know why...'"

The dinner was Twain-themed. As tasty as his speech was, the meal was tastier, a feast for those whose tongue for Twain went all the way. On the menu that evening:

Innocent Oysters Abroad.
Roughing It Soup.
Huckleberry Finn Fish.
Joan of Arc Filet of Beef.
Jumping Frog Terrapin.
Punch Brothers Punch.
Gilded Duck.
Hadleyburg Salad.
Life on the Mississippi Ice Cream.
Prince and the Pauper Cake.
Pudd'nhead Cheese.
White Elephant coffee.
Chateau Yquem Royals.
Pommery Brut.
Henkow Cognac.

Dishes served only in spirit included:

Double-Barrelled Detective Mystery Vegetable.
Connecticut Yankee Stew.
Mysterious Stranger Souvlaki.

Our compliments to the chef - and honoree.

Image courtesy of PBA Galleries, with our thanks.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Stories By Great Danes Are Not Dogs

by Stephen J. Gertz

The literature of mid-nineteenth century Denmark is the subject this anthology of tales and verse selected and translated by Mrs. Anne Bushby (b. ? - d. 1875). 

“Most of the following stories have appeared, from time to time, in the ‘New Monthly Magazine,’ and a few in other periodicals. They are now gathered together, and it is hoped that they may convey a favourable impression of the lighter literature of Denmark, a country rich in genius, science, and art” (Prefatory note).

Included are stories and poems by Hans Christian Andersen (“Morten Lange. A Christmas Story” and “The Man from Paradise. A Comic Tale”); Carl Bernhard aka A.N. Saint-Aubain (“Cousin Carl,” “Aunt Francisca,” “Damon and Pythas,” and “The Bankrupt”); novelist and poet Bernard Severin Ingemann (“The Doomed House,” “The Secret Witness,” “All Souls’ Day,” “The Aged Rabbi. A Jewish Tale,” and “The Death Ship”); Carit Etlar (“Too Old,” “The Shipwrecked Mariner’s Treasure,” and “Twice Sacrificed”); poet Hans Peter Holst (“Lisette’s Castles in the Air”), poet and playwright Adam Oehlenschlager (“Death and His Victims”), and others.

The translations were not universally admired; Mrs. Bushby took liberties; hers is not a literal translation. Yet she understood what the authors meant and captured the underlying sense of their work.

"Mrs Bushby is in many ways an interesting translator, who did not see Andersen as simply a children's writer, and that some of her divergences from Andersen's text are not mistakes but deliberate adaptations for the benefit of her audience in Victorian Britain...Mrs Anne S. Bushby  knew Andersen personally, had indeed courted his acquaintance since his first visit to London in 1847, when her husband called upon him to invite him to dinner.

"At that time Andersen's English translator was Charles Beckwith Lohmeyer, but his English publisher, Richard Bentley, apparently encountered difficulties with him, and in a letter to Andersen dated 18 January 1853 suggested Mrs Anne Bushby instead, referring to her as 'a friend of yours, I believe.' How Mrs Bushby came to know Danish we do not know. However, it is remarkable that unlike most of Andersen's other translators from the same period, she seems to have translated mainly poetry, and of prose only Danish…

"...Mrs Bushby was not a professional translator, but that her work was indeed a labour of love. It is equally clear from examining the stories she chose that she was not aiming at the children's market, where stories like 'The Old Bachelor's Nightcap' have never belonged. Nor are her two volumes of tales (A Poet's Day Dreams (1853) and The Sand-hills of Jutland (I860) illustrated or in other ways made appealing to the young. Indeed it would seem that she saw it as her job to supplement the earlier translations, translating new work by Andersen rather than bringing out established successes in yet another version. This was undoubtedly also the attitude of her publisher, Bentley, who at one point complained to Andersen that competition was becoming so fierce and pirating so rife that only new work which could be published and sold before competitors could pirate it was reasonably sure of earning a profit... In the end, Bentley gave up publishing Andersen altogether" (Viggo Hjørnager Pedersen, Anne Bushby, Translator of Hans Christian Andersen, Gothenberg University, 2004).

Andersen's The Man From Paradise could not be more different than the children's stories that earned him fame. A widow, recently remarried, is depressed, thinking about her first husband in the great beyond while the second is away. Suddenly, she hears a knock on the door and presumes a ghost "or corpse-like form" will appear. It is, instead, a young man.

Upon questioning him she learns that he is on his way to Paris.  Unfortunately, she hears it as "Paradise," and asks him to give her love and that of their daughter to her late husband, as well as "his successor's compliments."

The young man, an itinerant con man, plays along, claiming to have met her husband in Paradise, who, according to him, is currently in bad shape and in need of all she can provide to him.

The widow loads the knave up with food and clothing and sends him on his way. Enter husband number two, who upon hearing his wife's tale "smelled a rat" and took off on horseback after him, not admitting his suspicions to his wife.

He catches up to the thief but is bamboozled into believing that the real bandit just passed by on foot a moment ago. Leaving his horse in trust with the stranger, the man takes off into the forest after the knave, who, as expected, mounts the horse and rides off, his laughter trailing behind him.

The duped and embarrassed husband schleps back home.

"'Well, did you find him?' asked his smiling wife.
He answered, in a tone subdued, 'My life,
I did. I found him, and--and--for your sake,
Our best, our swiftest horse I let him take,
That he with greater speed might find his way.'
The dame smiled on him, and in accents gay
Exclaimed, 'O best of husbands! who could find
Your equal--one so thoughtful, wise, and kind!'"

The similarity to a typical Raymond Carver short story is manifest in the tacit ending wherein the defeated husband collapses into the Lazy-Boy in the rec room of their seedy-side of the San Fernando Valley house-wreck in foreclosure, pours himself a tall whiskey, drains it, and proceeds to empty the .38 kept on the coffee table as a conversation piece, shot by shot, into the ceiling, a wall, the big-screen TV, a window, his framed high school diploma, the widow, and himself: what we talk about when we talk about love.

[BUSHBY, Mrs. Anne, editor and translator]. The Danes Sketched by Themselves. A Series of Popular Stories by the Best Danish Authors. Translated by Mrs. Bushby. In Three Volumes. London: Richard Bentley, 1864.

First edition. Three octavo volumes (7 7/8 x 4 15/16 inches; 200 x 125 mm.). [2, publisher’s advertisements], [6], 312; [4], 303, [1, blank]; [4], 303, [1, blank] pp.

Original terra cotta pebble-grain cloth with covers decoratively stamped in blind and spines ruled, decoratively stamped, and lettered in gilt. Original cream-colored endpapers.

Not in Sadleir or Wolff.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Awful Visitation Of Four Dreadful Monsters To Four Young Women

by Stephen J. Gertz

The awful Visitation of 
Four Dreadful 
To four Young Women, at one of 
their Houses in this Town, where 
they had met for the Purpose of 
seeing their intended Husbands.

On the 21st ult. JANE SMITH, MARY STEWART, ANN THOMPSON, and MARY RELL, agreed to meet according to the old rule and custom, to see if possible they could make their sweethearts appear. They all accordingly assembled at one of their houses, each of them provided with a clean shift, likewise a plentiful supply of bread, cheese, and ale, in order if their sweethearts should arrive. At length the long wished for time drew near and on its striking twelve, they all began to repeat the following words:

May our sweethearts, if far or near,
At this moment before us appear,
And turn our shifts, if love they bear.

They had no sooner uttered the above words than four men entered their apartment with ghastly appearance, each of them having a lighted torch in their hands, and like Banquo's ghost unceremoniously seated themselves in the vacant chairs. Mirth, like a coward, vanished at their presence, and every smiling feature of the face was changed to an expression of consternation and horror. At length one bolder than the rest retreated, and she immediately followed by the whole females in the house; and the host remained as if riveted by some magic spell to his seat.

We shall leave him there to enjoy the company of his visitors, and return to those who fortunately found asylum in the house of a neighbor. After their alarm has a little subsided, and the power of utterance was restored, they began to conjecture who their visitors might be, and what the purport of their arrant? Unlike many momentous considerations, there was little diversity of opinion, for they unanimously agreed that it could be bno other than his satanic majesty and three of his imps which had fled with their bread, cheese, and ale.

Fordyce, Printer, 29, Sandhill.

The awful Visitation of Four Dreadful Monsters, to four Young Women, at one of their Houses in this Town, where they had met for the Purpose of seeing their intended Husbands [caption title]. Woodcut vignette of devil at top. Handbill, printed on one side only. 340x128 mm. [Newcastle upon Tyne]: Fordyce, Printer, 29, Sandhill, early 1800s.

Image courtesy of Swann Galleries, offering this handbill in its Early Printed, Medical & Scientific Books sale, May 1, 2014, with our thanks.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spectacular Simone de Beauvoir Archive $380,000-$470,000 At Christie's

by Stephen J. Gertz

An outstanding trove of over 350 original and unpublished signed autograph letters and postcards written by French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist, social theorist, and author of the major work of Feminist theory, The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe, 1949; 1953 in English), Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), is being offered by Christie's-Paris in it Importants livres anciens,  livers d'artistes & manuscrits sale, April 30, 2014. It is estimated to sell for $380,000-$470,000 (€280,000-€350,000; £250,000-310,000).

Spanning the years 1918-1957, the letters, each 1-10 pages in length and written to her mother, Françoise de Beauvoir (1887-1963), constitute an informal book by de Beauvoir, discussing her childhood and adolescence, life as an independent teacher, her emancipation, etc., and in detail recounts her daily life, travels, her readings (Dumas, Dostoevsky, Saint- Exupery, Faulkner, Celine, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and many detective novels), meetings, and the progress of her literary work.

As the letters progress from youth to adulthood, discussion of her blood family ebbs and the tide flows to the "small family" she was adopted into, whose members, cited many times, included Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques-Laurent Bost, Olga Zuorro, Bianca Bienenfelds, Nathalie Sorokin Fernand, and Stephan Gerassi, and also Merleau-Ponty, Nizan,  Colette Aubry, the Morels, the Guilles, the Leiris, Raymond Aron,  etc.  

There is much discussion of Jean-Paul Sartre, whom she met in 1929, opening "a new era" in her life. Several letters detail her life with Sartre: a trip together to Spain in 1931; sojourns in Spain, Italy, Germany - where she joined Sartre  in an internship at the French Institute in Berlin in 1939 - in Greece (July-August 1937) and Morocco (summer 1938). She finds Nuremberg "covered with swastikas," and Morocco "horribly lousy, but extremely attractive." 

She discusses her June 1940 exodus from Paris - Sartre was taken prisoner and would not be released until April of the following year; Simone took refuge in La Poueze. She writes of taking a long bicycle trip with Sartre in the free zone to organize a resistance movement. "There is a dearth here," she wrote Sept. 13, 1940 from Cannes, "and twice I had a breakfast of dry bread." The Liberation and her immediate post-war life are covered.

She writes of her 1947 lecture tour in the United States, where she met novelist Nelson Algren, who took her for a walk on the wild side and became her lover. "New York absolutely delights me and life is delicious" (January 28, 1947). She talks about a trip to Sweden with Sartre, and another in the United States and Mexico with Algren in 1948, then Algeria  the following autumn, and with a ferocious appetite for life she describes her discoveries and impressions. Concurrently, she began The Second Sex: "J’ai envie de travailler le plus possible parce que ce livre sera très long à faire et je voudrais quand même bien qu’il soit fni dans un an," she writes in September 1948; the book would be published a year later. 

Additional Sartre, Algren, an important trip to China in 1955, and more through 1957 when the correspondence ends.

The provenance to the archive is rock-solid: from Henriette, Simone's sister, aka Helene de Beauvoir. Her adopted daughter, Mrs. Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, assisted Christie's with the dates to many  letters otherwise dateless.

The significance of this archive cannot be underestimated: it constitutes an epistolary autobiography of one of the towering figures in feminist thought and a major figure in twentieth century French literature.

Images courtesy of Christie's, with our thanks.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Superlative Original Kate Greenaway Watercolor

by Stephen J. Gertz

A scarce and significant Kate Greenaway painting, this beautiful gouache, an important early example of her evolution as an artist, appeared as "Disdain," opposite p. 84 in The Quiver of Love (1876), one of four unsigned illustrations by Greenaway of a total of eight, the other four by Walter Crane.

"The crowning event of this year [1876] was the publication by Mr. Marcus Ward of the volume mentioned by Mr. [W.J.] Loftie, entitled 'The Quiver of Love, a Collection of Valentines, Ancient and Modern, With Illustrations in Colours by from Drawings by Walter Crane and K. Greenaway.' All the designs had already been published separately..."  (Spielmann, p. 53).

Indeed, this design originally appeared as one in a set of four valentine cards illustrated by Greenaway.

"Through Loftie she established a connection with the publisher Marcus Ward, for whom she designed 32 sets of greeting cards between 1868 and 1877, when his repeated exploitation of her designs without further payment led her to sever their connection. The cards served a triple purpose for Greenaway: they provided a steady income, they gave her work public visibility, and they furnished a forum in which to develop the 'Greenaway child' that would become her hallmark.

"Despite the rather garish colours employed in Ward's early chromolithographs, samples preserved in the greeting card collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum show both the evolution of Greenaway's style and its departure from other exceedingly mawkish cards then on the market. The valentine Disdain is a notable example. An especially popular greeting card, it was repackaged with other designs by Greenaway and Walter Crane and sold as a book, The Quiver of Love. Its Pre-Raphaelite tone would resurface more forcefully in much later paintings, such as the Fable of the Girl and Her Milk Pail (1893)" (Gaze, Dictionary of Women Artists, p. 611).

The watercolor is identified by the title, "Roses," on the rear of the artboard, and it may be that it was the painting's original name; it is unclear. Here in its original full design, the image was cropped for the card and book.

The verse (by "F.R.") accompanying this illustration in The Quiver of Love reads:

My love, alas, our old acquaintance has forgot,
She never turns her eyes, and passing heeds me not;
Ah! scornful maiden! true hearts do not strew the ground,
When you relenting seek one, it may not be found

GREENAWAY, Kate. "Disdain." An Early Original Watercolor in Gouache by Kate Greenaway for The Quiver of Love. c. 1875-1876. Image: 168 x 128 mm on art board (218 x 176 mm).

Spielmann, p. 53. Schuster and Engen 167 (book). Schuster & Engen 288 (card). Engen, p. 49-50.

Image courtesy of Nudelman Rare Books, with our thanks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An "Excessively Rare" Thomas Rowlandson Suite Of Caricatures

by Stephen J. Gertz

In 1800, Rudolph Ackermann, the great print publisher, issued Masqueronians, a suite of six hand-colored emblematic etched plates by the great caricaturist, Thomas Rowlandson, each with three figures representing various English "types," for a total of eighteen.

The species include an undertaker; barber; flower girl; lawyer; soldier; fish-monger; street vendor; doctor; nun; pub owner; fashionable lady; philosopher; fox hunter; writer, and etc.

Only one copy has been seen at auction since 1922: "An excessively rare Rowlandson item, only one other copy being known" (Anderson Galleries sale, 1922).

Color-plate books depicting itinerant tradesmen and/or occupations were nothing new in 1800, when Masqueronians was published. Cries of London - "cries" being the street language of vendors hawking their wares in the squares and markets of 17th-century London - was published by John Overton in London 1680-1700. Between 1792 and 1795 Francis Wheatley exhibited a series of oil paintings entitled the “Cries of London.” It was a popular subject.

But it was up to Rowlandson to treat the subject emblematically as social satire, the wares or tools of the trade worn as garlands.

His aim included a caustic arrow to the faces he associated with each occupation. The street vendor above ("Trafficorum"), for example, is depicted with a hooked nose and it doesn't require a Ph.D. to understand that Rowlandson is skewering Jews. Rowlandson impales physicians as sour-pusses impaling patients with their main instrument of practice, a clyster syringe, the better to drain der keister of all that ails ye.

Don't get him started on nuns and the proprietors of pubs.

We will gloss-over the fashionable lady in her finest frou-frou: the philosopher appears to be annoyed to be matched with her; inquiring into the mystery of life is his trade but the mystery of women remains a mystery to him, as it was to whom appears to be his descendant, Freud.

Actors and fox-hunters beware: Rowlandson has your number. And writers? The pen may be mightier than the sword but strangled by vipers, as Penserosa seems to be, the sword might be the best way out when critics spew venom, quills being notoriously undependable instruments of suicide.

ROWLANDSON, Thomas. Masqueronians. London: R. Ackermann, 1800.

Folio (275 x 375 mm). Six hand-colored etchings, each with three emblematic portraits, all printed in brown ink.

The Plates:

1. Philosophorum, Fancynina, Epicurum
2. Penserosa, Tally Ho! Rum!, Allegora
3. Physicorum, Nunina, Publicorum
4. Funeralorum, Virginia, Hazardorum
5. Battleorum, Billingsgatina, Trafficorum
6. Barberoum, Flora, Lawyerorum

BM Satires 9616-9621.

Images courtesy of David Brass Rare Books, with our thanks.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Primo Copy Of Piranese's Imaginary Prisons $270,000-$400,000 At Christie's

by Stephen J. Gertz

"I need to produce great ideas, and I believe that if I were commissioned to design a new universe, I would be mad enough to undertake it" (Piranese).

A magnificent copy of the scarce first edition of Italian artist and printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranese's (1720-1778) celebrated suite of designs for an imaginary prison, Invenzioni Capric di Carceri (Rome: Giovanni Bouchard, n.d. [c. 1750]) - which has had an enormous influence upon literature - is being offered by Christie's-Paris in its Importants livres anciens, livres d'artistes & manuscrits sale, April 30, 2014.

With all of its fourteen beautifully designed and etched plates in their first impression, second state (except one), before numbering and retouching, on un-watermarked paper, and in excellent condition, it is estimated to sell for $270,000-$400,000.

The plates depict fanciful subterranean vaults and machines somewhat Kafkaesque in nature, with surreal distortion later found in the work of M.C. Escher, featuring bizarre, labyrinthine structures that are chemerical mash-ups of monumental architecture, epic caprices depicting "ancient Roman or Baroque ruins converted into fantastic, visionary dungeons filled with mysterious scaffolding and instruments of torture" (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Only the engravings of Goya and William Blake have inspired writers as much as those of Piranesi's Carceri.  Their roots lie in the theatrical dioramas that Piranese designed for the Galli da Bibiena family of stage set designers in Bologna as well as those for his father, a stonemason.

The rare second edition, later published by Piranese himself with the plates reworked, contains an extra two plates yet here "in Bouchard's edition the plates are more lightly etched throughout with none of the strong contrasts of light and shade seen in the later edition. There is a wonderful simplicity in the design in the early states, and none shows this quality in greater beauty than plate four of the series" ( Hind ).

The haunting, dream-like quality to the plates fired the imagination of the Romantics.

"The fascination of Piranese's Imaginary Prisons for the literary mind is attested by transmutations in story, poem, and essay. In a recent attempt to explain the appeal, Aldous Huxley remarks that the etchings express obscure psychological truths: they represent 'metaphysical prisons, whose seat is within the mind, whose walls are made of nightmare and incomprehension, whose chains are anxiety and their racks a sense of personal and even generic guilt.' Whatever the explanation may be, the influence of the Prisons on writers of the last two centuries, particularly on the Romantics, will one day make a chapter of literary history which will include the names of Walpole, Beckford, Coleridge, De Quincey, Balzac, Gautier, Baudelaire, and doubtless many others" (Paul F. Jamieson. Musset, de Quincey, and Piranese. Modern Language Notes, Vol. 71, No. 2, Feb. 1956).

"Many years ago, when I was looking over Piranesi's Antiquities of Rome, Mr. Coleridge, who was standing by, described to me a set of plates by that artist...which record the scenery of his own visions during the delirium of a fever: some of them (I describe only from memory of Mr. Coleridge's account) representing vast Gothic halls, on the floor of which stood all sorts of engines and machinery, wheels, cables, pulleys, levers, catapults, etc., etc., expressive of enormous power put forth, and resistance overcome. Creeping along the sides of the walls, you perceived a staircase; and upon it, groping his way upwards, was Piranesi himself: follow the stairs a little further, and you perceive it come to a sudden abrupt termination, without any balustrade, and allowing no step onwards to him" (Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater).

The Plates:

I - Title
II - The Round Tower
III - The Grand Piazza
IV - The Smoking Fire
V - The Drawbridge
VI - The Staircase with Trophies
VII - The Giant Wheel
VIII - Prisoners on a Projecting Platform
IX - The Arch with a Shell Ornament
X - The Sawhorse
XI - The Well
XII - The Gothic Arch
XIII - The Pier with a Lamp
XIV - The Pier with Chains

"One of the greatest printmakers of the eighteenth century, Piranesi always considered himself an architect. The son of a stonemason and master builder, he received practical training in structural and hydraulic engineering from a maternal uncle who was employed by the Venetian waterworks, while his brother, a Carthusian monk, fired the aspiring architect with enthusiasm for the history and achievements of the ancient Romans. Piranesi also received a thorough background in perspective construction and stage design. Although he had limited success in attracting architectural commissions, this diverse training served him well in the profession that would establish his fame" (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

This copy, formerly in the collection of the National Gallery of Art (with small stamp on the back of each plate with stamp cancellation), was last seen at Christie's-London July 2, 2003 when it sold for $140, 506 (£83,650; €101,704).

Grégoire Dupond created the below animated film for Factum Arte, based upon Piranesi's engravings for Invenzioni Capric di Carceri, as a walk through the artist's amazing spaces:


Images courtesy of Christie's, with our thanks.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dime Novels Led To Boy's Death By Lynching

by Stephen J. Gertz

"Kansas city, Jan. 24 - The Times' Wichita, Kansas, special says: Reports are received here to the effect that Sheriff Shenneman was shot while arresting Charles Cobb, alias Smith, a desperado, near Udell station yesterday afternoon and died last night. By the aid of neighbors Smith was held at a farm house where he was captured to await assistance from Winfield. Upon receipt of the intelligence at Winfield twenty-five armed men proceeded to the scene of the tragedy and hung Cobb to the nearest tree. Cobb also killed a constable in Butler county a few days before" (Las Vegas Daily Gazette, January 25, 1883)

"During Wednesday evening he confessed to Mrs. Shenneman, the widow of the dead sheriff, that he was Charles Cobb, and gave her his revolver. Subsequently he stated to Shenneman that he had been led to the committal of the lawless act by reading the exploits of Jesse James and other desperadoes..." (Arkansas City Weekly, February 7, 1883).

"A Jefferson County constable tried to arrest a young person by the name of Charles Cobb on Saturday, January 13, 1883. Jefferson County is northeast of Topeka. Cobb was wanted for promiscuously brandishing a knife and a revolver at a country dance the week before. Instead of surrendering, Cobb whipped out one of his deadly six-shooters and killed the constable. After the shooting, Cobb mounted a horse and rode off in a southwesterly direction. Possibly he was making for Hunnewell, Kansas, and from there to take the cattle trail to Texas.

"Sheriff Shenneman received a telegram from the authorities stating that the fleeing murderer would probably pass through or near Winfield, and to intercept him if possible. Shenneman circulated cards giving the desperado’s description and offering the usual reward for his capture.

"Cobb carried a Winchester rifle and many other weapons, and if he was recognized during his flight, the invitation to tackle a perambulating arsenal was declined.

"Charles Cobb came to Winfield during the morning of Monday, January 15th, and then traveled north toward Udall. He was seen by a farmer to stop near the corner of Mr. Worden’s farm in Vernon Township and read the placards located there. One of them was of himself.

"The fleeing Cobb stopped at the Jacobus house, in Maple Township, in the evening. Cobb told Mr. and Mrs. Jacobus that his name was Smith and that he had just come from Texas with a herd of cattle. He further stated that he was seeking work till spring. They told him they did not need help then. Cobb then asked if he could pay board and stay a week, so he could look around. Jacobus agreed, and received payment for a week’s board. Mr. and Mrs. Jacobus testified later that Cobb had a shotgun in his possession and noticed he always carried a revolver and slept with it under his pillow. They thought this was simply his 'cowboy ways' and let it pass.

"On the Sunday before the shooting Cobb showed some boys his skill as a marksman. Cobb was breaking bottles thrown into the air with a single shot from his revolver.

"The schoolmaster, who also boarded with the Jacobus family, received one of the description cards sent out by the Sheriff. He came to Winfield and informed the Sheriff of his suspicions on Monday evening, January 22nd. That same evening Shenneman informed a friend that he had located his man and in less than twenty-four hours would have him in hand. The Sheriff was cautioned to be careful as the boy was clearly a desperate character and would shoot to kill. Shenneman said he would go prepared and could shoot as quick as anyone. On Tuesday morning about nine o’clock the law officer put his Winchester in his buggy, strapped on his revolver and left for the Jacobus house.

"Mrs. Jacobus stated that on Tuesday morning, January 23rd, Cobb’s week’s board was out so they relented and hired him to work. As they were all sitting at lunch, some one drove up and called Mr. Jacobus out. He soon came back and said that Dr. Jones, of Udall, was out there and would stop for lunch. Dr. Jones was an assumed name used by the Sheriff. Charles Cobb was all this time sitting at the table. Mr. Jacobus - and the man introduced as Dr. Jones - passed through the kitchen and the 'doctor' looked very sharply at the prisoner. The two men went into the other room and Shenneman pulled off his overcoat and threw it on a chair. About this time young Cobb got up from the table, took his hat and gloves and started toward the door.

"Mr. Shenneman then sprang upon Cobb from behind. A scuffle followed and they fell to the floor. Two shots rang out with both bullets lodging in Shenneman’s stomach, but he continued to hold Cobb. Mr. Jacobus ran in and took the pistol away from the prisoner and told him to give up or die.

"The Caldwell paper reported 'At all events, it appears to be certain that when the latter (Cobb) got through, he started to go out, when the sheriff, thinking he was likely able to handle what appeared to be a mere boy, threw his arms around Cobb from behind. The latter managed to get hold of his self-cocking revolver, and pointing it backward, fired, the ball penetrating the sheriffs bowels.' The prisoner then cried out that he would give up, not to kill him. Mr. Shenneman then said, 'Hold him, he has killed me.' The sheriff staggered into a nearby bedroom and fell onto the bed. Jacobus and the school teacher, after tying up the prisoner, went to assist Shenneman.

"Sheriff Shenneman later said that as he looked at the fugitive, he decided that he wouldn’t pull a revolver on such a mere boy. He would catch Cobb and hold him while the other fellow disarmed him. After the Sheriff grabbed Cobb, he found that he couldn’t handle him.

"Mr. Jacobus said: 'When Shenneman jumped on him, I followed up close. As soon as I could, I got hold of his revolver and held it on him until he said he would give up. I then called the teacher from the school house and we tied him.'

"Sheriff Shenneman could not be moved. Plans were made to bring the prisoner to Winfield in the Sheriffs buggy by Cowley County Deputy Taylor and Undersheriff McIntire. A wagon-load of men, having heard the news and intent on seizing Cobb, met them that evening about a mile from town. The Sheriffs buggy was lighter and the team faster, so the officers outdistanced and lost the pursuers.

"The officers came into town in a roundabout way and unloaded their prisoner just back of D. A. Millington’s residence. They went through the back yard into Rev. Platter’s wood shed. Cobb was held there by Deputy McIntire while Taylor scouted around. Taylor found that the jail was surrounded by a mob, which had spread out and was also patrolling the alleys in the vicinity.

"Deputy McIntire in the meantime was holding the prisoner in the wood shed, and they could hear footsteps prowling around the area. The prisoner said he wanted to be shackled to him and given a pistol; then he would go into the jail. George McIntire wouldn’t accede to that request so Cobb hunted around and got a smooth stick of stove wood. Soon the crowd around the jail was distracted and the mob rushed to another part of town. The officers seized the opportunity and hurried the prisoner over and put him in jail.

"The Courier reporter and other Winfield folks returned by way of Udall where the train had been held for them. An immense crowd had gathered at the depot expecting the prisoner to arrive in that way. They made a rush for the coach. They were, with difficulty, persuaded that the man was not there. It was not a crowd of howling rabble but an organized body of determined men. They were bound to avenge the brave officer to the last drop of blood.

"The crowd then marched up the main streets of the city. They scattered guards out onto the roads over which they expected the prisoner to arrive. Others watched the jail while hundreds gathered on the streets in little knots and discussed plans for capturing the prisoner from the officers.

"One more venturesome than the rest went about with a large rope on his arm and blood in his eye. The crowd surged too and fro until long after midnight when they began to thin out. Under the influence of more sober-minded citizens, they gave up their ideas of mob violence. About this time McIntire and Taylor appeared on the street and the few remaining citizens were eager to learn the whereabouts of the prisoner. Little was learned before morning and even then the location where he was being held was known to only a select few.

"On Wednesday morning, January 24, 1883, a Courier reporter learned of the prisoner‘s whereabouts and interviewed him. The reporter copied the following description of the Jefferson County murderer that was telegraphed to the Sheriff.

“'Charles Cobb, about nineteen or twenty years old: light complexion: no whiskers or mustache: blue eyes: a scar over eye or cheek, don’t know which: height five to five feet three inches; weight 125 to 135 pounds: had black slouch hat: dark brown clothes and wore large comforter: may have large white hat: was riding a black mare pony with roach mane, and carried a Winchester Rifle and two revolvers: had downcast look.'

"The prisoner crouched in a comer of a small room. After introducing himself, the reporter asked the prisoner for his story of the trouble. He said: 'My name is George Smith, and I am about eighteen years old. I came up to Dodge City from Texas with a herd of cattle, in the employ of W. Wilson. Have been on the trail about a year. My parents reside in Pennsylvania. I was paid sixty dollars when the cattle were shipped.

“'I then rode east, intending to work my way back, and on a week from last Monday, it being too cold to ride, I stopped at Jacobus’ and tried to get work, or to board, until I could look around. On Tuesday as I was eating lunch a man came in who was introduced as Dr. Jones. As I got up to go out, the Doctor jumped on me without saying a word. My first impression was that it was a conspiracy to rob me, and I wrestled to defend myself.'

“'I had a revolver on my person because I was among strangers, had some money, and was used to keeping it about me. If he had only told me, he was an officer, and had put his gun on me as he ought to have done if he believed I was the desperate character I am credited with being, this business would never have happened.

“'I am no criminal, and I am not afraid if the law is allowed to take its course. If a mob attacks me, all I ask is the officers will do me the justice to allow me to defend myself. If they will take off these irons and put a six-shooter in my hand, I will take my chance against the kind of men who will come here to mob me. I am guilty only of defending myself, and I ask the law either to defend me or accord me the privilege of defending myself.'

"The newspaper reporter stated: 'In personal appearance the prisoner looks to be a bright, healthy, smooth-faced boy, and has but few of the characteristics of a desperado. Cobb is a perfect picture of robust health, muscular and compact as an athlete. The prisoner’s description tallies almost exactly with that of the Jefferson County murderer. He has a small scar above his lip on the right comer, and above his eye. In talking the captive uses excellent language, speaks grammatically and shows evidence of good breeding.'

"The prisoner was taken to Wichita later Wednesday afternoon by deputy Finch and confined in the Wichita jail. The lawmen wanted him out of the way of violence in case of Sheriff Shenneman’s death.

"On Thursday morning, January 25, 1883, the Sheriff of Jefferson County arrived, accompanied by a farmer who lived near Cobb and knew him well. They identified the prisoner as Charles Cobb. Cobb feigned not to know his old neighbor and still stuck to his cow-boy story.

"Sheriff Shenneman died Thursday evening at 9:45 p.m., in Udall, Kansas.

"On Saturday morning, January 27th, Sheriff Thralls of Sumnner County, Sheriff Watt of Sedgwick County, and Cowley County Deputy Taylor brought Charles Cobb back to Winfield in a carriage. Parties on the north-bound train passed them between Mulvane and Udall.

"This news electrified citizens in the community. In the evening about two hundred resolute men gathered at the crossing. They boarded the incoming train thinking that Cobb might have been put aboard at some way station, but he was not found. The vigilantes returned to the city and placed squads at each bridge and on streets surrounding the jail.

"The carriage with the prisoner arrived about eleven o’clock. The officers came by way of the ford at Tunnel Mill, thus enabling them to avoid outlying pickets, and drove to the crossing of Fuller street and Eleventh Avenue. Deputy Taylor was then dispatched to the jail to see how the land lay. He arrived just after a squad had searched the jail for the prisoner Cobb. Taylor quickly returned with the news that it was certain death to put Cobb in the jail.

"Sumner County Sheriff Thralls and Sedgwick County Sheriff Watt took the prisoner out of the carriage and started south on foot with him.

"Taylor was instructed to take the team out into the country. In going out of town, a squad of vigilantes caught the deputy and brought him back. From all parts of town men came running, wild with excitement. They formed in a dense mass around Deputy Taylor and clamored to know what had been done with the prisoner. As the crowd surged around the brave police officer, it felt as if the very air was laden with vengeance.

"Soon someone cried 'the Brettun,' and almost to a man the crowd started in a run for the hotel. Here they found the door barred, but one of their number was allowed inside. He looked in the room of Butler County Sheriff Douglass, and found nothing.

"The vigilantes then returned to the group holding Taylor and demanded that he tell them where they could find Cobb. Soon the horde went again to the jail and searched it from top to bottom. They then searched the courthouse and outbuildings. The search being fruitless, they re-turned exasperated, and for a few moments it looked as if Taylor would be abused.

"Deputy Taylor was finally compelled to tell where he had left the prisoner. A rush was made for that part of town, carrying Taylor along to show the exact spot. A vigorous, but fruitless, search of barns and outbuildings in the vicinity continued for the balance of the night.

"By this time Sheriffs Thralls and Watt, with the prisoner, had traveled out the Badger Creek road to William Dunn’s, arriving at two o’clock, and failed in securing a conveyance with which to transport the prisoner to Douglass. They went on until they found a team and wagon. Sheriff Watt then took the prisoner to Wichita, by way of Douglass, where Cobb was to remain for some time.

"Cobb was returned from Wichita on Wednesday evening, January 31st, by Deputy Taylor and again lodged in jail. Mrs. Shenneman went in and talked to him for a few moments. As she looked into his eyes, the criminal broke down completely and wept like a child. Soon people began to gather and many citizens saw Cobb for the first time. About eleven o’clock he asked to see Mrs. Shenneman again and confessed to her that he was Charles Cobb. He asked her to write to the wife of the constable in Jefferson County and tell her that he was sorry for killing him. He asked her to keep his revolver. Afterward, to Sheriff McIntire, he said he was led astray by reading the exploits of Jesse James and other desperados in the dime novels.

"Mr. William Shenneman (who was a police officer in Bay City, Michigan) and Deputy Taylor remained to help Sheriff McIntire should anything occur. By two o’clock in the morning everything was quiet about the jail and on the streets so Mr. Shenneman and Deputy Taylor retired to the house across the walk.

"Startled late pedestrians saw a company of men, their faces covered with black masks and thoroughly organized, marching down Ninth Avenue toward the jail. They went to Fuller Street where the leader flashed a dark lantern. The mob then marched back and tiled into the courthouse yard.Four of them, with pistols drawn, rushed into the sheriffs office, located in front of the jail. The black-masked leader ordered Sheriff McIntire to throw his hands up and the order was quickly obeyed. He then demanded the keys and Sheriff McIntire handed them over.

"The masked Captain then threw the jail door open and said 'Number 1, 2 and 3 to your posts!' and three men trotted into the jail. He then ordered 'Reserve, guard the door!' The three men came out leading the prisoner. The Captain and his three men stayed at the office door for about five minutes before he demanded: 'DO you promise you won’t follow us?' No answer was immediately given so the captain shouted 'Halt!' to the men on the sidewalk with the prisoner. He then turned to the Sheriff again and said, 'Now say you won’t follow us, and say it D--m quick!' He received no answer.

"The other three left, but the Captain delayed for a moment while standing in the door, with revolver drawn. He again ordered, 'Command. Halt! Send me two men!' The men came and took his place as the leader left.

"The two masked men guarded the Sheriff for about five minutes. They then pulled the office door shut and lee. The company surrounded the criminal and marched him down Ninth Avenue to Main Street. From there they moved north to Eighth Street and then turned west until they reached the railroad bridge. By this time a multitude had gathered and were following them. Two squad members fell back and with drawn revolvers they shouted 'Keep your distance.'

"The masked vigilantes got to the railroad bridge where a rope, prepared beforehand, was placed about Cobb’s neck and tied to the bridge beam.The moon was just up; and several boys who were following, crept up into the brush on the river bank and saw the rest of the proceedings. After the rope was tied, the unidentified leader, in a gruff voice, ordered Cobb to say what he had to say quickly. The boys in the brush heard Cobb say, 'Oh, don’t boys!' and 'Father, have mercy on Me!' Two men wearing masks then took him up and dropped him through between the bridge railings.

"Cobb fell about ten feet and rebounded half the distance. The black-masked mob then filed on across the bridge, leaving two of their number to guard the rear. These stood until the others had gone on across, when they too retreated. The crowd came up and looked at the victim. His body continued to hang there while the coroner was summoned. The scene was visited by hundreds. The County Coroner arrived, empaneled a jury, and only then was the body taken down.

"The coroner’s jury returned its verdict the next day, February 2, 1883, which was 'Charles Cobb came to his death at the hands of parties unknown to the jury.'

"Mr. George C. Rembaugh owned and operated the 'Telegram' newspaper at that time. Many years later he was quoted as submitting the following story. 'A coroner’s jury was called to sit on the case. The main witness, when questioned as to whether or not he could identity any member of the mob answered, 'Why yes, Judge.' He then addressed the foreman, 'The leader looked a lot like you and was built a lot like you. He even moved around like you do.' A few more questions were asked and the jury handed down its verdict that the deceased came to his death at the hands of parties unknown. Mr. Rembaugh insisted that he, while hid out, saw the mob and he, like the main witness, thought the leader of the mob resembled the jury foreman.

"On the same day as the verdict, the following telegram was received:

"'Will you box my son and send him by express to this place? If not, hold him until I come. C. M. Cobb.' The corpse was placed in a casket and sent to Valley Falls (in Jefferson County) on the Santa Fe train Friday afternoon" (Dr. William W. Bottorff and Mary Ann Wortman. Articles on Various Subjects from the Old Cowley County Newspapers and Interviews With Oldtimers. Sheriff A. T. Shenneman of Cowley County, Kansas 1880-1883).

"The fate of Cobb, the boy who was lynched at Winfield on Wednesday last, was a sad, but a deserved one. He stated just before he was hung that it was reading the sensational narratives of the exploits of Frank and Jesse James that led him to destruction. 

"We have frequently seen Atchison boys pouring over these works of the devil, and afterward imitating the supposed exploits of the James boys in their play. This is extremely dangerous, and the sooner the fact is impressed upon the youthful mind that these men were not heroes, but brutal, cowardly robbers and murderers, the better it will be for the rising generation. 

"All such books and plays should be suppressed, and that murder and robbery is heroic eradicated from the youthful mind, by a vigorous application of the paternal slipper. Let the boys learn that honest, patient labor is heroic, and that dishonesty and crime are despicable, but keep forever out of their reach these untrue stories that have already ruined so many" (Winfield [Kansas] Courier, February 8, 1883).

Images courtesy of Carleton College Dime Novel Collection, with our thanks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First Printed Edition Of The Torah In Hebrew $1,400,000 - $2,000,000 At Christie's

by Stephen J. Gertz

"The educated man knows, indeed, from his knowledge of history that the art of Gutenberg saw its inception with a Latin Bible in the middle of the XVth century. Yet what layman knows when the original text appeared for the first time? Not even the bibliophile knows; although a non-Jewish expert, Count Giacomo Manzoni, asserts in his enthusiasm for the book that the first edition of the Hebrew Bible is the most precious book on earth" (Lazarus Goldschmidt, 1950)

A newly discovered, large and complete copy in very fine condition of the first printed edition of the Pentateuch - the first five books of the Bible aka Torah - in Hebrew is being offered by Christie's-Paris in its Importants livres anciens, livres d'artistes & manuscrits, Wednesday, April 30, 2014.

Printed on vellum in Bologna by Abraham ben Hayim of Pesaro for Joseph ben Abraham Caravita, this, the Hamishah humshe Torah was published on January, 25, 1482 with Aramaic paraphrase (Targum Onkelos) and commentary by Rashi (Solomon ben Isaac).

Rarer than copies of the Gutenberg Bible (49, per last census), and one of only twenty-eight surviving copies on vellum (with eleven survivors on paper), most incomplete, it is estimated to sell for $1,400,000 - $2,000,000 (€1,000,000-1,500,000; £900,000-1,300,000).

Arguably the most important book in the history of Hebrew printing and publishing, it incorporates the first appearance in print of the ancient Targum attributed to Onkelos. Rashi’s commentary, also included, was first published in Rome around a dozen years earlier. This first edition of the Pentateuch in its original language is the first Hebrew book with printed vowel and cantillation signs (those symbols beneath the letters).

Abraham ben Hayim may have started as a textile printer and dyer and/or bookbinder in Pesaro. His first recorded printing press stood at Ferrara in 1477, which produced two books, beginning with Levi ben Gershom’s Be’ur sefer lyov (Commentary on the Book of Job), edited and/or financed by Nathan of Salò; then it completed - about two thirds of the text - Jacob ben Asher’s Tur yoreh de’ah (Teacher of Knowledge), which had been started at the press of Abraham ben Solomon Conat in Mantua. At his second press, in Bologna, Abraham ben Hayim worked for Joseph ben Abraham, a member of the Caravita, an influential Jewish family of bankers.

In Bologna, Abraham ben Hayim first printed this fully vocalized biblical text with cantillation marks, a landmark in the history of Hebrew book production not only for the importance of its text, but no less for its pioneering technique of casting and setting accents; this fully developed typographical accomplishment can only be compared with Francesco Griffo’s solution for adding accents to the Aldine Greek founts some dozen years later.

Abraham ben Hayim da Pesaro and Francesco Griffo da Bologna are likely to have known each other and it's possible that Griffo cut Abraham’s punches; both were subsequently associated with the Soncino family of printers in Italy, although at dates about two decades apart. An earlier typographical attempt at adding Hebrew accents, in a 1477 folio edition of the Psalms printed by a consortium of typographers in Northern Italy, was aborted after a few pages. The only other surviving Bolognese production by Abraham ben Hayim is slightly later in date than this Torah, a folio edition of the Five Scrolls (Megillot), now recorded in two copies (Vatican and Parma Bibl. Palatina).

Liturgical readings of the Torah in synagogue, then as now, must be done from manuscript scrolls. This, the Bologna editio princeps, combining the text with the Aramaic targum and Rashi’s commentary, was aimed at an educational market, the codex format being most efficient for study.

Rashi’s commentary was first printed in Rome c. 1470 as a separate edition by three Jewish contemporaries of the Christian proto-typographers, Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz. The second separate edition - the first dated Hebrew printed book - appeared on February 18, 1475 from the press of Abraham ben Garton at Reggio di Calabria (a single copy known), while the third edition of 1476 is the first Hebrew book printed in Spain.

Another edition of the Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos, Haftarot and Megillot, also vocalized and with cantillation accents, was printed somewhere in Italy by Isaac ben Aron d’Este and Moses ben Eliezer Raphael (3 copies extant and 7 single leaves); its date has in the past been assigned to c. 1480 (Goff Heb-13; Offenberg 25), based on research on by A. Spanier (Soncino Blätter I, 77), but it is now more accurately dated to c. 1489 from paper and watermark evidence in the Vatican Library copy (Piccard, Wasserzeichen Lilie II, 945).

Two obscure Iberian editions of the Torah - little known because of their extreme rarity - may also belong to the early 1480s, and may also be candidates for the first printed edition of the Torah in Hebrew: Offenberg 23=Goff Heb-16(III) recorded only in fragments of eight leaves (New York JTSL), one leaf (Oxford Bodleian) and a partial leaf (Jerusalem NLI); Offenberg 26=Goff Heb-16(II) surviving in a single copy (Florence Laurenziana) and a fragment of of 4 leaves (JTSL).


BIBLE, Pentateuch, in HebrewHamishah humshe Torah, with Aramaic paraphrase (Targum Onkelos) and commentary by Rashi (Solomon ben Isaac). Edited by Joseph Hayim ben Aaron Strasbourg Zarfati. Bologna: Abraham ben Hayim of Pesaro for Joseph ben Abraham Caravita, 5 Adar I [5]242 = 25th January 1482.

Median folio (320 x 230 mm). Printed on vellum (flesh side to flesh side, hair side to hair side, the sheets highly polished to minimize contrast). Collation: 110 28 310 48(-7) 58(-8) 62 710 8-98 106 1110 124 13-146 (Genesis-Exodus); 1510 168 176 18-218.10 228 234 248 256 2610 27-288 296 (Leviticus-Deuteronomy, 19/1v beginning of Numbers, 29/5v colophon, 29/6 blank). 219 leaves: Complete (but without final blank).

Vocalized biblical text with accents, surrounded by paraphrase in a narrow outer column and commentary in long lines above and below, the pages set in formes (the outer forme of the outermost vellum sheet of each quire printed on the fesh side). Square Hebrew type 1:180 (text, headlines), semi-cursive Hebrew type 2:90 (paraphrase, commentary and colophon). 20-21 lines of text and headline and 40-42 lines of paraphrase to the full page, numbers of commentary lines varying, no printed signatures or catchwords. (Light yellowing of the hair sides of the sheets, some minor stains, a few small wormholes at beginning and end, but in VERY FINE CONDITION, WITH LARGE MARGINS.) 18th-century binding of brown sheep over pasteboard (front cover and spine gone, back cover preserved but worn and detached, original sewing somewhat defective, frst quire detached from the book block). Modern folding box.

Provenance: inscribed, signed and dated by three Italian censors. Luigi da Bologna, Dominican friar, March 1599 – Camillo Jaghel 1613 – Fra Renato da Modena 1626. Individual words or short phrases censored, scored through in ink on 1/2r, 1/6r, 2/3v, 5/2v and 22/4r and several words erased on 10/6v and 11/3v, all in Rashi’s commentary. – There is no evidence of more recent provenance, except for the modest 18th-century binding, which is probably French. – French Private Collection, by descent to the present owner.

Hain 12568; GW M30624; BMC XIII, 26-27 (C.49.d.2); Proctor 6557; Goff Heb-18; CIBN Heb-4; IDL 2440; IGI E-12; Oates 2482; Bod-inc Heb-8. De Rossi I, 7; Steinschneider 2; Thesaurus A15; Van Straalen p. 29; Zedner p. 106; Marx 7; Goldstein 20; HSTC 22; Offenberg 13. ISTC ib00525570.


5/1/2014: UPDATE: Sold for €2,785,500 ($3,850,679).

Images courtesy of Christies, with our thanks.
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