Jasper52’s August 28th online-only rare books auction boasts an eclectic selection of fascinating books, autographs, and documents, from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Among the many subject areas to entice collectors at all levels are: American history, nautical history, World War II, literature, popular science, transportation, animal husbandry, art, and early printed books and autographs from England and the Continent.
James Fenimore Cooper’s two-volume History of the Navy of the United States of America (1839) kicks off the sale (featured below). Cooper is best known today for The Deerslayer and The Last of the Mohicans, novels of rugged individualism on the early American frontier, but in his time he was also a noted historian. Inspired by his own experiences as a sailor and midshipman, he wrote the first full-scale history of the U.S. Navy, from the Colonial period through the War of 1812. This first edition in the publisher’s original cloth binding has an estimate of $300-$400. Lots 5 (The War-Ships and Navies of the World) and 6 (Steel’s Elements of Mastmaking, Sailmaking and Rigging) will also be of interest to nautical enthusiasts.
Among many other works of a specialized nature offered in this sale, standouts include two 1904 imprints on transportation: Lot 19, Propelled Vehicles, one of the earliest works devoted to the automobile, profusely illustrated, est. $50-$70; and lot 21, Derrah’s Trolley Trips: With Historic Houses and Picturesque Scenery, a surprisingly extensive guide to trolley travel throughout New England, with several maps and photographs, est. $200-$300.
Another highlight, the 1870 edition of Mrs. Winslow’s Domestic Receipt Book, a popular American annual devoted to household remedies, featuring recipes, ads and testimonials for all manner of “cure-alls” for common ailments such as diphtheria, bronchitis and asthma. As compendiums of dubious medicinal concoctions sprinkled with household tips and wisdom, receipt books provide an intriguing window on 19th-century domestic life (lot 34, est. $10-$20)
A full first edition of Victorian Paperbacks and Yellowbacks, 1849-1905, featured in lot 53 and in image below, is the definitive bibliography on popular British literature of the Victorian period. This complete nine-volume set is an essential reference work for students and collectors of the penny dreadfuls and bodice rippers that fueled the British imagination for half a century and continue to influence popular culture today. Also of popular and historical literary interest are lots 59, The Book of Scottish Anecdote and 68, a Jack Hazard “juvenile” novel.
Early printed books, autographs, and historical documents can add depth and variety to any well-considered collection, and fine examples of each are represented in this sale. Delle Lettere di M. Claudio Tolomei (1550) is a collection of letters by a sixteenth-century Italian humanist and scholar who wrote on law, politics, poetry, and the Italian language. A near-contemporary of Machiavelli’s, Tolomei was persecuted for his support of the Medici family during a period of political disfavor. This early edition bears the hallmarks of Venetian book production of the time: elegant italic letterpress type, boldly engraved printer’s device, compact yet detailed engraved map of Italy, durable vellum binding (lot 2, est. $300-$500).
Meanwhile, a 1662 London edition of the acts of Parliament, printed in old “black letter” type, is a record of laws in the UK in the earliest years of the restoration of Charles II to the throne, after a period of great turmoil (lot 80, est. $100-$150). And lots 84 and 85, each single leaves extracted from rare and important books, showcase early American and English type specimens respectively, as well as the technique of double-column printing.
Rounding out the sale is a selection of autograph documents that detail both public and private life. Lots 75 through 79 feature signatures and letters of American generals and cabinet members, including four from the Civil War and Reconstruction periods; while lot 74 is a pair of autograph receipts from the Colonial period, one of them authorizing the publication of the “Bands of Matrimony“ (above) between a journeyman worker and his bride, ordinary people otherwise lost to history (est. $50-$100).
Whatever your interests, there’s something here for everyone. Bidding on all lots will begin at $1.
Erik DuRon has nearly 20 years of experience buying and selling rare books in all fields, first at Bauman Rare Books in New York City, and then independently. He has built collections for diverse clients, and collaborates with and consults for collectors, booksellers and auction houses. He lives in Brooklyn.