The Victorian period, especially in England, was a hotbed for architectural follies. In an article on Victorian follies in the July 2003 issue of The Antiquer, Adele Kenny notes several definitions, including the Oxford English Dictionary’s kindly and understated — “a popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder.” Chambers goes a bit further with “a great useless structure, or one left unfinished, having begun without a reckoning of the cost” and the Oxford Companion to Gardens, in case we still don’t get it, says architectural follies are “characterized by a certain excess in terms of eccentricity, cost or conspicuous inutility.” I think the two words “conspicuous inutility” sum it up best, but say what you will a lot of us love them all the same. ůmore
On Tuesday, March 21, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of Illustration Art, featuring original works of art intended for publication. A run of original illustrations for the popular Babar series includes the top lot of the sale—the ink and watercolor design for the cover for the third book, Le Roi Babar, 1933, by Jean de Brunhoff, is estimated to sell between $20,000 and $30,000. Further beloved children’s characters include an illustration for Ludwig Bemelmans’s 1956 Madeline and the Bad Hat, titled “He said – ‘Let’s play a game of tag’ and let a cat out of the bag,” valued at $7,000 to $10,000. The sale will also offer works by Maurice Sendak, as well as several storyboard illustrations from Walt Disney Studios, including Ben Ali Gator and Hyacinth Hippo waltzing the Dance of the Hours for the 1940 classic Fantasia, estimated at $800 to $1,200.
Also available are several original drawings by Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel), led by A Gentle Sport, Forsooth, a charming ink, watercolor and wash dragon first published in Judge Magazine’s April 1929 issue, and a 1930s cartoon for Life magazine titled The Skier and the Walrus (each $8,000 to $12,000).
The largest selection of works by Edward Gorey ever to come to market showcases 12 works by the beloved master of the macabre. The cover for a circa-1950 unrealized work titled The Worsted Monster is valued between $8,000 and $12,000. Additionally, there are costume and set designs, as well as numerous sketches and published illustrations for book covers, which include Chance, a Novel by Joseph Conrad and Cobweb Castle ($3,500 to $5,000 and $6,000 to $9,000, respectively).
Two Peanuts strips by Charles M. Schulz include an early work, titled Here comes the big Polar Bear stalking across the snow!, 1957, featuring Snoopy and Charlie Brown, as well as Mister Sensitive, 1974, depicting Snoopy and Lucy (each $6,000 to $9,000).
One staple of Swann Galleries’ Illustration Art auctions is a robust section of cartoons and covers for The New Yorker. This spring’s selection includes original works by Peter Arno, Charles Barsotti, Ilonka Karasz, Saul Steinberg, Tom Toro and Gahan Wilson, from as early as 1933 to as recently as 2016. Charles Addams is represented by Z Line Subway, a 1979 cartoon into which he snuck Uncle Fester, Wednesday and Grandmama from The Addams Family ($6,000 to $9,000).
In addition to the previously mentioned work by Charles Addams, the sale boasts new-to-market works consigned by the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation, including a cartoon depicting the entire Addams Family ($6,000 to $9,000), and a 1957 cover for The New Yorker titled Scuba Galleon, estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.
Early magazine covers by Erté include Sports d’Hiver, which graced the Harper’s Bazaar February 1933 issue, valued here at $8,000 to $12,000. Erté is also represented by several of his original set designs and costumes. There are additional early covers by McLelland Barclay, Umberto Brunelleschi and Georges Lepape.
A raucous selection of pulp is led by Harold von Schmidt’s oil painting to accompany a 1935 story in Cosmopolitan, captioned “But my husband—” Cleone gasped. “He’d kill you!” ($10,000 to $15,000). Further selections include Earl Moran’s pastel A Sweet Job, circa 1940, estimated at $6,000 to $9,000, and the oil on canvas Over My Dead Body, 1932, by Remington Schuyler, which was the cover illustration for West magazine ($3,000 to $4,000).
There is a strong run of original works by Al Hirschfeld featuring ůmore
The U.S. Election of 2016 was a game-changer for all sorts of reasons. The populist revolt came as a big surprise to active supporters of the two major political parties who are still in shock over the shifting loyalty and unexpected response of traditional working class voters, many of whom had supported Democrats since the Great Depression of the 1930s. People who follow this column will recall that in July of 2016 we explained some of the reasons why Trump would perform bigly¹ in the 2016 general election. What follows is some observation and analysis that may contribute towards an understanding of recent trends. Or maybe not. ůmore
2018 San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print & Paper Fair (submitted by Nancy Johnson)
Nancy Johnson Events Management LLC is delighted to announce the venue and dates for our 2018 San Francisco Antiquarian Book Print & Paper Fair. The event will be a two-day Friday & Saturday Fair on February 2-3, 2018. We have chosen a superb location, the South San Francisco Conference Center, and are making plans to have this location for many years to come.
The largest independent Book & Paper Fair in the country, the San Francisco Fair has been a fixture on the bay scene for over three decades. We acquired the fair from Walter Larsen & Associates in 2011, and our first event was 2012. Antiquarian booksellers as well as events producers, we assisted Walter Larsen in his 2008 and 2010 Fairs. No association or organization affiliation is required to participate in the event. ůmore
Delirium: The Art of the Symbolist Book, opening January 20 at the Morgan Library & Museum, explores creative encounters between Symbolist authors and the artists in their circles. The movement coalesced during the second half of the nineteenth century as writers in France and Belgium sought a new form of art—one that referenced the visible world as symbols that correlate to ideas and states of mind. The Symbolists celebrated subjectivity, expressed through a nuanced language of reverie, delirium, mysticism, and ecstasy. For these writers, literature suggests meaning rather than defines it. The Symbolist movement was a revolt against naturalism, ůmore
The Nationalmuseum, Sweden’s largest and most distinguished art institution, is collaborating with the Morgan Library & Museum to bring more than seventy-five masterpieces from its renowned collections to New York in an extraordinary new exhibition opening February 3. The show features work by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Antoine Watteau, and François Boucher, and is the first collaboration between the two institutions in almost fifty years. Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden: The Collections of Count Tessin runs through May 14. The Nationalmuseum’s core holdings were assembled by Count Carl Gustaf Tessin (1696–1770), a diplomat and one of the great art collectors of his day. The son and grandson of architects, Tessin held posts in Vienna, Berlin, and Paris, where he came into contact with the leading Parisian artists of the time and commissioned many works from them. By the time he left the city in 1742, he amassed an impressive collection of paintings and drawings.
Among the fourteen paintings in the exhibition are three commissioned by Count Tessin and exhibited at the 1740 Parisian Salon. Chief among these is Boucher’s Triumph of Venus, which is making its first journey to North America. Other paintings include Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s Dachshund Pehr with Dead Game and Rifle, and a Portrait of Count Tessin by Jacques-André-Joseph Aved, in which the collector is shown among his art, books, and medals. Six works by Jean-Siméon Chardin, notably the Morning Toilette, complete the group. The drawings in the exhibition include works by Italian masters such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Giulio Romano, and Annibale Carracci. Northern European artists are represented by Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, and Anthony van Dyck, among others. The French drawings begin with Primaticcio and practitioners of the Fontainebleau school and include works by Jacques Callot and Nicholas Poussin, as well as Count Tessin’s French contemporaries, Watteau, Boucher, and Chardin. ůmore
Remember Peanutgate? Didn't think so, because I just made it up. At any rate, back in 2012 the grandson of a former president and one-time peanut farmer caused a bit of a ruckus by tracking down the source of a secretly recorded video of a meeting between Mitt Romney with some Florida campaign contributors in which Romney made some candid remarks about the 47% who were unlikely to support him in any case. James Carter arranged to have the 'hacked' video leaked to Mother Jones magazine and according to CNN on February 21, 2013 . . . ůmore
As far as I know, I am one of only two members of the Johnson Society of Australia who are booksellers. I strongly suspect that I am the only one who has ever felt ambivalent, even fraudulent, about his membership. Although I am not, I think, an unclubable man, when I attended my first (and only) meeting of the society, held in the elegant upstairs chambers of Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne, I skulked in the background, feeling like an interloper, an impostor. I was the Great Sham of Literature. Why? For one thing, at the time I had not read more than odd fragments of Dr. Johnson's writings. For another, a lot of what I had read fairly made my blood boil. And yet, and yet. Something about the man, while it repelled me, also attracted me, fascinated me, sucked me in. Enough, clearly, to make me want to join the club, pay my dues and turn up at the meeting. Not as a saboteur or as a heckler but in good faith. Even so, at that Johnson Society meeting ůmore
On Thursday, March 2, Swann Galleries’ sale of 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings exceeded $3,000,000 and broke ten auction records. The house, which is celebrating it diamond anniversary this year, has enjoyed several record-breaking sales already in their spring 2017 season. The rare deluxe edition of Marc Chagall’s 1948 portfolio Four Tales from the Arabian Nights, of which only 11 were printed, topped the sale. The set belonged to the publisher of Pantheon Books, Kurt Wolff. The vibrant color lithographs include the 13th plate denoting the deluxe edition; still in the original case, the set sold to a collector for $269,000.
Early twentieth-century American prints saw competitive bidding and high prices. Edward Hopper’s rare 1921 etching Evening Wind sold for $149,000, nearly doubling its high estimate of $80,000. The American master was also represented in the sale by the 1921 etching Night Shadows, which went for $33,800. A premiere selection of prints by Hopper’s mentor Martin Lewis was led by the extremely rare aquatint Which Way?, 1932, which was purchased for $42,500, a record for the work. Further highlights by Lewis included the 1929 drypoint Bay Windows and 1916’s etching The Orator, Madison Square, each of which went for $27,500.
Another highlight of the sale was Männlicher Akt (Selbstbildnis I), 1912, Egon Schiele’s first attempt at a printed self-portrait; the work brought $30,000. A 1914 drypoint by the artist, Kümmernis, was purchased for $15,000. Orologi Molli, a watercolor by Salvador Dalí featuring one of his famous melting clocks, surpassed its high estimate to sell for $112,500. Another original, a pen and ink drawing by Paul Klee of prancing bulls, titled Drama in der Kuhwelt, 1915, reached $25,000.
All four offered works by Mary Cassatt found buyers, including the rare circa-1902 drypoint Crocheting Lessons, which sold for $27,500. Another Cassatt, the color drypoint and soft-ground etching The Coiffure, circa 1891, broke its previous auction record to sell for $81,250. Etchings made by James A.M. Whistler during a 1879-80 trip to Venice performed well, including the luminous Upright Venice, at $70,000. Two further prints from the same period each broke their previous auction records: The Garden reached $70,000, while San Biagio sold for $62,500. The complete set of 14 lithographs in Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s Mélodies de Désiré Dihau, 1895, was sold for $30,000, a record for the work. The set was previously in ůmore
Laugh about it, shout about it When you've got to choose Every way you look at this you lose...
I think our presidential elections have become perpetual reality television for all sorts of reasons – for one thing it gives steady jobs to political reporters and a lot of advertising dollars for people in the television news business. We might hope it will be over and done with come November 8th, but I fear this is the nightmare that won't go away. My pretty safe prediction is that barely six months into 2017 some television 'news reporters' with nothing better to do will be stirring up speculation about likely candidates for 2020 and start the cycle all over again. I placed 'news reporters' in single quotes because by now it must be fairly obvious that journalists have all but given up their traditional role of being disinterested professionals and have become enthusiastic and unashamed curators ůmore
(Scarce Photo of Baldwin in His Airship - 1909) Original 10x8" b&w press photo of Thomas Scott Baldwin in his airship over the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Sep 25 - Oct 9, 1909. Numerous pencil identifications and news service rubber stamps on the reverse. Baldwin is a very famous aviator who is not widely known. He held Balloon Pilot License #1, Airship Pilot License #9 and Airplane Pilot License #7. Good condition, some small chips around the edges not affecting the image. $55.00(more on this and other books available from Early Aeronautica)
Roosevelt, Theodore.A Book-Lover's Holidays In The Open. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916. First Edition. Hardcover. Octavo; pp. x,(vi), 373, (ii), appendices, ad leaf for Life Histories; Illustrated; color frontispiece by Ted Pitman, and two additional black and white illustrations; blue cloth, gilt device, top edge gilt. A collection of varied pieces from hunting cougars to Hopi... $125.00 (more on this and other books available from Theodore Roosevelt Books)
Frost, Robert.North of Boston. New York: Henry Holt and Co. 1915. First American edition to be printed in America. Denoted the "third edition" on copyright page but actually the second edition, as the first Holt edition from the British sheets was labeled "second edition." Inscribed "To Walter King Stone -- 1932." Above his inscription Frost has transcribed the complete poem "The Pasture," the first poem in this book, which made its first appearance in this title; and, at Frost's direction, the first poem in all later selections or collections of his poetry. . . $6,000.00 (more on this and other books available from Quill & Brush)
Strickland, Agnes. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest; with Anecdotes of their Courts, Now First Published from Official Records and other Authentic Documents, Private as well as Public. New Edition, with Corrections and Additions. Philadelphia: Blanchard & Lea, 1855. Revised & Enlarged Edition. 12 volumes bound as six. Bound in half brown morocco and marbled boards, marbled endpapers. $200.00(more on this and other books available from R & A Petrilla)
Solis [y Ribadeneyra], Antonio de.The History of the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. Translated from the Original Spanish of Don Antonio de Solis [y Ribadeneyra], Secretary and Historiographer to His Catholick Majesty, by Thomas Townsend, Esq; The whole Translation Revised and Corrected by Nathanael [sic] Hooke, Esq;… The Third Edition. London: Printed for H. Lintot; J. Whiston and B. White, at Mr. Boyle’s Head, and L. Davis, at Lord Bacon’s Head, both in Fleet-street; and D. Wilson, at Plato’s Head, in the Strand, MDCCLIII . 12mo., xvi, 384, folding frontispiece, 2 folding maps, 4 folding plates; x, 386pp., 2 folding plates. Bound in contemporary full calf, double-ruled gilt borders, raised bands, red leather labels intact. SABIN 86491. According to Sabin copies held by the Library of Congress, Library Company of Philadelphia, New York Public Library et al. have only two plates in volume 2. External hinges of volume 1 tender and beginning to crack, o/w a very nice set with plates in brilliant condition. $750.00 (more on this and other books available from John C. Huckans Books)
(Sugar Castles & Fruit Fantasias - early Spanish dessert recipes) Mata, Juan de la. Arte de reposteria, en que se contiene todo gènero de hacer dulces secos, y en lìquido, vizcochos, turrones, natas: Bebidas heladas de todos generos, rosolis, mistelas, &c. con una breve instruccion para conocer las frutas, y servirlas crudas. Madrid: Josef Herrera, 1786. 4to.  ff., 208 pp. $2750.00 (more on this and other books available from Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts) ůmore
Five hundred years ago a monk in a backwater town at the edge of Germany took on the most powerful men in Europe—the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope—and he won. Martin Luther’s Reformation ranks among the most successful religious movements in history, altering western society and culture forever, and was a testament to his creative use of communications, notably rapidly evolving print technology, to promote his views. ůmore
Events of late have made me wonder if Darwin got it only half right. I don't quarrel with the theory, as proposed in On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), that modern man evolved from earlier primates and the earlier primates from mammals, that in all probability, evolved from even more primitive life forms. Even though I don't pretend to be anything close to a biologist, it all just seems to make a lot of sense. Some of us agree with Darwin's theories, some not. Some people argue the subject heatedly, while others simply agree to disagree. That is what civilized people do. What uncivilized people do is kill others who do not believe as they do. ůmore
The day after the California primary the television news organizations lost little time analyzing the results. My personal bias, shared by many others, is of someone who being unable to support either major party candidate, will be going the third party route for the fourth consecutive election cycle. My respect for Bernie Sanders, even though I disagreed with him on several issues, is now moot. So it might well be 1856 all over again, but more on that later.
Honest television news coverage is hard to come by, but I find the PBS News Hour the least objectionable of the lot – no pharmaceutical ads or breathless celebration of pop culture personalities is a pretty good competitive advantage. Having said that, I was quite surprised (well, not really) by the list of guest analysts Judy Woodruff had on the News Hour the day after the primary. The three she invited to analyze Mrs. Clinton's big win in California and consequent locking up of the Democrat nomination, took turns gushing, giggling and swooning over the prospect of a ůmore