Antiquariats Banzhaf and Kuhn at the New York Book Fair
An American Tapir on the Banzhaf/Kuhn catalogue.
Antiquariat Banzhaf and Antiquariat Michael Kuhn created a pocket catalogue for the recent ABAA Antiquarian Book Fair in New York. These booksellers traveled from Germany to New York to display their wares, including the 21 items contained within these pages. Offered are various pieces, books and ephemera, of European origin. Here are some examples.
Item 3 offers drawings of plants and animals as viewed under the lens of the most powerful microscopes available in the 18th century. The book is Mikroskopische Untersuchungen und Beobachtungen der geheimen Zeugungstheile der Pflanzen... (Microscopic studies and observations of the secret parts of plants... and insects), first edition, second printing from 1790. The author was Wilhelm Friedrich von Gleichen-Russwurm. He was a naturalist of sorts, more an amateur, which explains why he is not that well known. Gleichen-Russworm was a baron, born of a substantial family, but problems within that family led to his receiving a less than expected education for someone of his standing. He joined up with the military, and later worked at the court, where he befriended important people. He was a well-liked individual. It enabled him to earn a good living, and after his mother died, he inherited a substantial estate. Tired of the court life, he semi-retired and began scientific studies, notably, looking at plants and small animals under the microscope. As a self-taught scholar, he was not in a position to provide great scientific knowledge, but he had access to the best microscopes available, and provided detailed illustrations of what he discovered in his books. Priced at €6,900 (euros, or roughly $9,075 U.S.).
The image on the cover of this catalogue comes from one of eight wall panel plates depicting various animals of the world. Unsigned and undated, they come from southern Germany or Austria circa 1800. The beast on the cover is that of Tapiris Americanus, the American Tapir. Now I've lived all my life in America and never seen one of these, but there is an explanation. It does not inhabit the America that residents of the United States refer to as “America.” This tapir is now known as Tapiris Terrestris and is commonly called the South American Tapir or Brazilian Tapir. Item 1. €6,400 (US $8,405).
Item 15 is Resa til Italien, 1780, 1781, 1782 (Travels in Italy 1780-2). The author was Carl August Ehrensvärd, who lived from 1745-1800. Born in Stockholm of a military father, Ehrensvärd would fill numerous roles during his life. He is best known as an architect, but was also a painter, caricaturist, writer, member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and rose to Admiral in the Swedish Navy. He was also a traveler, as this book attests, and it contains his account and illustrations. The catalogue describes it as “a beautiful book with astonishing, quite unusual illustrations.” Offered is the second illustrated edition from 1819. €4,200 (US $5,515).
Item 20 is a treatise on a rare and unpleasant genetic disease – ichthyosis: Descriptio Ichthyosis corneae congenitae in virgine observatae. It causes dry skin with a build up of scale-like flakes, hence the ichthyo - “fish” - prefix. It is not contagious, and even today, there is only treatment, no cure. The author of this book, which provides text and illustrations about the condition, was Christoph Helwig Smith, a physician from Bremen when this treatise was published (1830). €7,000 (US $9,190).
Antiquariats Banzhaf and Kuhn at the New York Book Fair
De Montfort's squid sinks a ship.
Item 8 is a work of astronomical incunabula, Theorica planetarium. This is an early edition, published in 1472. The work is attributed to Gerard of Cremona or Gerard of Sabbioneta. Apparently, the two Gerards were the same. He was a 12th century Italian translator, who specialized in translating Arabic, Jewish, and ancient texts. He was one of a group of translators who began to enlighten a darkened Europe with the knowledge that more advanced cultures of that day, or earlier days, possessed. This astronomical book was translated from an Arabic text. When Christian forces overran Toledo in the 11th century, the Islamic rulers were forced to leave their library behind. Rather than destroying it, the new leaders retained that library and made its books available to translators. €9,000 (US $11,825).
Here is a most interesting work, Allgemeine und besondere Naturgeschichte der Weichwurmer (Mollusques) als Fortsetzung der Buffonschen Naturgeschichte (General and specific natural history of soft worms (mollusks) as a continuation of Buffon's natural history). This is a first German edition (1803-1808) of a work by French naturalist Pierre Denys de Montfort. De Montfort is best known today for his search for the giant squid. The giant squid was long thought to be just a myth, but de Montfort was convinced of a story that a 25-foot long tentacle had been found in the mouth of a whale. He believed the two to be mortal combatants, and imagined the squid capable of great destructive power (see the image on this page). He theorized that they had taken down several missing British ships, only to be embarassed when the British revealed their true fate. Ultimately, de Montfort was proven right, at least to the existence of a giant squid, though they do not take down ships, and they are prey for whales, not equal combatants. Item 4. €1,600 (US $2,100).
Antiquariat Banzhaf may be reached at 0049-(0)7071-552314 or Antiquariat-Banzhaf@t-online.de