English & European Books Pre-1800 From John Windle
English and European Books Printed Before 1800 from John Windle.
By Michael Stillman
John Windle, Antiquarian Bookseller, of San Francisco, has issued his 38th catalogue. It is entitled "English and European Books Printed Before 1800." While this catalogue has a definite old world orientation, collectors with a focus on the new will also find books of interest. After all, even the U.S.A. was still a colony of the old world almost to the end of this period. Here are a few samples of the items you will find (and with the caveat that we have focused mostly on the English language books in a collection that includes many in French, German and Italian).
In 1764 Benjamin Franklin was still a loyal subject of England. At the time, he was an agent for Pennsylvania, whose legislature was unhappy with the English proprietorship then in place. On their behalf, Franklin petitioned the King to assume control of the colony himself. Franklin still envisioned a great English empire with America a leading force. Over the next few years, he would lose faith in England as a result of its treatment of the colonies. Here is Franklin's earlier plea, Cool Thoughts on the Present Situation of Our Public Affairs. Item 78. Priced at $3,750.
Just 12 years later, the colonies would be in open rebellion. In a letter attributed to Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson, to a dumbfounded British Lord who did not understand why, an explanation is provided in Strictures upon the Declaration of the Congress at Philadelphia. In a Letter to a Noble Lord. Hutchinson, no friend of rebellious colonists, justifies the taxes England imposed, but questions the wisdom of applying them under the current conditions. Item 97. $2,250.
Francis Bacon's Of the Advancement and Proficience of Learning: or Partitions of Sciences was a major step in the formulation of the scientific method. This is a first English edition from 1674 of a book originally published in Latin in 1605. Bacon promotes the scientific method, using experimentation and observation to draw conclusions. This process is a given now, but at this time the standard was to reach conclusions through logic and philosophy, the facts be damned. Item 14. $975. Unfortunately for Bacon, he was convicted of accepting a bribe in his political persona in 1621 and disgraced. In 1622, he published The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry The Seventh. This may have been an attempt to get back in the good graces of Henry's descendant, King James I. Item 13. $1,250.
English & European Books Pre-1800 From John Windle
Dinnertime in ancient Rome.
Item 35, Praxis medicinae theorica et empirica familiarissima, by Gualtherus Bruele, is an interesting medical book. Published in 1581 (this is the second edition), it undoubtedly had some of the best medical advice of its day. It includes the interleaved notes of 17th century physician Peter Rommel. There are 17 pages of these manuscript annotations which include Rommel's observations as to how effective various treatments were. $5,750.
Edmund Randolph was a noted Virginia political leader who served as an aid to Washington prior to the Revolution. His support for that cause was somewhat surprising as his father was a loyalist. Randolph became Governor of Virginia and presented the Virginia Plan to the constitutional convention. Randolph would not sign the constitution, but would change his mind and urge Virginia to adopt it, despite certain misgivings. He favored an odd plan to have three chief executives, as he feared the equivalence of a monarchy if too much power was concentrated in one person's hands. Randolph continued his middle of the road (some would say indecisive) outlook through the coming disputes between Federalists and Republicans, and those who tilted toward England versus those who tilted toward France. It seemed to please no one. When Jefferson resigned as Secretary of State in 1794, Washington appointed Randolph as his successor. However, he became the victim of political intrigue when false claims to the effect that he would accept a bribe were made by a French minister. Randolph resigned and published his A Vindication of Mr. Randolph's Resignation in 1795. Randolph was displeased with the lack of support received from Washington, and his country's father comes off as indecisive as a result of what was not one of his finest moments. It would be many years before the full truth of the incident and Randolph's innocence would be proven. Item 150. $175.
Item 46, De Triclinio sive de Modo convivandi apud prisco Romanos, by Petrus Ciacconius (Pedro Chacon) describes a lifestyle we can all aspire to. It's a collection of writings describing the feasting and other decadent habits of ancient Rome. There is much about feasting, including a dissertation on eating while reclining. There is also a section on bathing six or seven times a day, and, of course, on dining while bathing. Bathing, naturally, may be partaken in either water or wine. $1,450.
John Windle, Antiquarian Bookseller, may be found on the internet at www.johnwindle.com or reached by phone at 415-986-5826.