A Variety from Adrian Harrington Rare Books
A variety from Adrian Harrington.
This month we received our first catalogue from Adrian Harrington Rare Books. However, this is Catalogue 35 for the London bookseller. Adrian Harrington has been selling books for 40 years now, which certainly qualifies one for accolades such as “venerable,” “estimable,” and the like. Perhaps, honorable, or as they say in England, “honourable.” Their location may indicate somewhat the source of the material, but it is hardly exclusive. After all, who would expect a London bookseller to be offering a collection of material with items relating to Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson from a man who was present at Ford's Theater when Lincoln was assassinated? Harrington does specialize to an extent in literature, modern first editions, children's books, and in the case of this catalogue, much in the way of mystery and detective fiction. However, as the Lincoln items attest, you can find just about anything here. So, let's take a look.
We will start with the material connected to President Lincoln. It includes several appointments to various military ranks received by Captain John Bolton. One, dated August 1, 1864, is signed by Lincoln. Another is from President Andrew Johnson, though it is not certain whether it is an actual signature or stamped one. There is also a copy of Osborn Oldroyd's 1901 book Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and a 1914 letter from Oldroyd to Bolton asking his recollections from the assassination. Bolton was on duty at Ford's Theater that terrible night. According to his family, he was awaiting news on his application for a position with Lincoln's personal security team. The President could have used him that night. Item 133. Priced at £12,500 (British pounds, or roughly $19,751 U.S. dollars).
When you have written what was probably the most important scientific work of its century, what do you do for an encore? Here is the answer. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species totally changed everything we believed about ourselves and how life on earth came to be as it was. There are few books that changed the world as dramatically as this. Item 55 is Darwin's next book, published three years later in 1862: Fertilisation of Orchids. Admittedly, it is not of as monumental importance as his previous title, but it does show Darwin further developing his theory of natural selection, the key factor that differentiated Darwin's view of evolution from earlier ones that assumed some sort of divine force was driving organisms to change. £2,750 (US $4,345).
A Variety from Adrian Harrington Rare Books
A letter from Dodgson/Carroll.
Item 62 is a letter from the children's photographer and mathematician, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better remembered by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, under which he wrote about Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. Dodgson was noted for his “child friends,” of which he had many, and often wrote them when the need arose. These letters are generally humorous, logical in his illogical way. This one is to Mabel Burton, and evidently young Miss Burton had not sent a photo Dodgson requested. He writes, “I find it so hard to remember your face without one: I find myself saying 'had she three eyes? Or had she four? And which side of her face did her nose point to.' I could settle all such questions in a moment, if only I had a photograph to look at.” £2,100 (US $3,319).
That book you see on the cover of this catalogue, Poirot Investigates, is an early item from mystery writer Agatha Christie. It is her first collection of short stories featuring detective Hercule Poirot, where he investigates all sorts of terrible crimes. Item 33. £4,000 (US $6,322).
Here is an item that may be early Edgar Allen Poe, or nothing of the sort. The title is The Philosophy of Animal Magnetism, published in 1837. It was written by “a gentleman of Philadelphia.” That gentleman remained unknown and forgotten until 1928, when Joseph Jackson republished the book with an introduction claiming that the unknown author was, in fact, Edgar Allen Poe. Poe was very interested in animal magnetism, or mesmerizing, or hypnosis, as it was variously called. As to whether Jackson was correct in his claim, some people believe he solved the mystery, others believe his claim a lot of nonsense. I will leave that to others. Item 155. £1,250 (US $1,976).
In terms of scientific importance, this book was to the 20th century what Darwin's Origin was to the 19th: Relativity. The Special and General Theory. The book is a bit hard to follow, so you will have to take our word that it is a great book. This is a 1920 first English edition of Albert Einstein's laws of nature that revolutionized our understanding of the universe, even if we can't understand him. Item 74. £3,750 (US $5,926).
Adrian Harrington Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0) 20 7937 1465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.