75 Fine Books from Peter Harrington
75 fine books.
Peter Harrington has issued their 84th catalogue, Seventy-Five Fine Books. These are every bit as fine as the title says. This is a collection of important books, in top condition, in first or other important editions. There are not many you won't recognize. They range from early printings of antiquarian works to science, travel, literature and other fields. Many types of books are represented, with importance being the common thread. Here are a few.
In 1663, Robert Hooke placed some tiny specimens under his new, compound microscope. He was amazed by what he saw. Within a few years, so would the rest of the world. He began to see things invisible to the naked eye. He began placing everything under the microscope, and drawing what he saw. His drawing of a flea, the size of a bird, is probably the most famous, not to mention horrible sight he drew. The flea is not a handsome creature. He also gave us mosquitoes and fungi, but what was most important is that he gave us our first look at cells. He was the first to describe these basic units of tissue as being a “cell.” Item 12 is a first edition, first issue copy of Micrographia: or some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses, published in 1655. It contains 38 plates of what Hooke saw. Priced at £65,000 (British pounds, roughly $101,780 U.S. dollars).
Item 42 is a very special copy of a work that is performed as a play every Christmas all over the world. That, naturally, is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. There is no need to recount the plot line as everyone knows it. This copy is unique as it contains Dickens' inscription to “George Cattermole from his friend Charles Dickens, Eighth November 1845.” Cattermole was an artist and illustrator who illustrated a couple of Dickens' books. However, he was more than that. He was a close personal friend of the great writer. Dickens possessed a couple of his friend's paintings, and when Cattermole died, Dickens worked “tirelessly” to raise money to support his widow and children. This is a copy of the 1844 edition. £50,000 (US $78,230).
There is probably no greater book in western literature, certainly in English literature, than this one. Item 10 is a copy of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. This was only the second appearance of his works, what is generally referred to as the Second Folio, published in 1632. After the playwright's death in 1616, it was likely that all of his great works would soon disappear. His plays had been performed, but they were not published. Fortunately, a group of his friends, realizing something needed to be done to preserve them, published this collection in 1623, in the edition known as the First Folio. Two more folio editions would be published in the 17th century, and then with the 18th century, countless editions of his various works would roll off of presses. The first edition is extremely difficult to find now, and all four folios are highly collectible. £385,000 (US $602,500).
Item 5 is the great work of the 16th century scientist William Gilbert. If you are wondering who gave electricity its name, it was Gilbert. That comes from the Greek word for amber, from which Gilbert created static electricity. Gilbert was particularly focused on magnetism, and concluded that the earth itself was a large magnet, that being the explanation for the working of a compass. He also was a strong supporter of the Copernican theory of the universe, long before Galileo's support of the same got him in serious trouble with ecclesiastical authorities. The title of Gilbert's book, published in 1600, is De Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure. £30,000 (US $46,975).
75 Fine Books from Peter Harrington
London street life.
Item 31 is what is known as the “foundation book” for an Australian collection: The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, with the Account of the Establishment of the Colonies of Port Jackson & Norfolk Island... Governor Phillip was charged with leading a flotilla of ships to Australia to settle a colony, arriving in the year 1788. However, he did not bring the typical group of settlers. His settlers were primarily convicts, people whose crimes were not serious enough to hang, but whom the British wanted to dump so far away they would not be able to return. Phillip landed at Botany Bay, a location chosen as a result of Captain Cook's earlier voyage, but he found the location unsuitable for farming. Instead, he moved to Port Jackson and Sydney Harbor, now site of Australia's largest city. The first few years were difficult for the immigrants, food shortages being the major concern, but in time they were able to overcome the problems. Gov. Phillip himself would return to England in 1792, never to go back to Australia. This book, published in 1789, is based mainly on Phillip's reports, and those of others in his crew, sent to the British government. The compiler is unknown. £45,000 (US $70,750).
Item 48 offers a look at the harder side of life in 1870s London. From 1877-78, photographer John Thomson and radical journalist Adolphe Smith collaborated on a monthly publication called Street Life in London. The photographs were taken on the streets of London. They show scenes of everyday life for the not-so privileged of London. While the scenes look natural, Thomson did have to get his subjects to pose. In those days, you couldn't take sharp pictures of moving subjects. Smith's text provides commentary from those who were subjects of the photographs. After the 12 monthly installments were released, the collection was published in book form, as here. £15,000 (US $23,580).
Peter Harrington may be reached at +44 (0)20 7591 0220 or email@example.com. Their website is www.peterharrington.co.uk.