Books About Books and More from Oak Knoll
Catalogue 284 from Oak Knoll Books.
By Michael Stillman
Oak Knoll Books has released its Catalogue 284, featuring works from the Limited Editions Club, books about books, and bibliography. Oak Knoll specializes in books that are about the art of making books, or books that are physically works of art. However, we do note some very interesting titles offered here that do not quite fit so neatly within these walls. That is more than acceptable as there are some most worthwhile historical works to be found here. So, let's take a look at this 284th catalogue in Oak Knoll's ongoing series.
Item 190 is one of the most significant books pertaining to the Colorado River: Report Upon the Colorado River of the West. Explored in 1857 and 1858 by Lieutenant Joseph C. Ives, Corps of Topographical Engineers... Ives conducted a pioneering survey of the great river, including the gathering of detailed botanical and zoological data as well as information on Indians who lived along the canyon walls. Ives led the first recorded expedition to the floor of the Grand Canyon. Along with text, this report includes many plates of geographic features and natives who lived by the river. Offered is number 90 of the copies issued to the House of Representatives, printed in 1861. Priced at $2,000.
Item 68 is a bound volume of several reports from Alaska. It includes maps, a copy of the penal code, and a report on agriculture (what grows in snow?). What makes the information particularly interesting is the timing of the material, the close of the 19th century when the Alaska gold rush was on. $225.
Jerome Kern is remembered by most as one of the greatest music writers for the theater. He composed such timeless melodies as Ol' Man River and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. However, in the book world, he is remembered for a wonderful collection, and having the prescience to sell it at the most opportune time. Item 231 is the two-volume catalogue of The Library of Jerome Kern, published by the Anderson Galleries for his auction. There were 1482 lots, and they took in $1.7 million, a spectacular price in early 1929. Kern was amazed. What followed was even more surprising, though thoroughly unwelcome. This was the last great auction before the Depression. The days of spectacular prices came to a screeching halt with the market crash, but not until Kern had cashed out. As Oak Knoll points out, "some of the prices realized have not been seen again to this day." $225.
Books About Books and More from Oak Knoll
The Great Eastern was the largest ship in the world in 1860.
Item 131 is the undated Pictorial History of the Great Eastern Steam-Ship, published in London by W.H. Smith. The Great Eastern was the largest ship ever built when she was first launched in 1858 under the name SS Leviathan. It was greeted with superlatives such as the "eighth wonder of the world." Unfortunately, the cost of building it was so great it drove owner Eastern Steam Navigation Company into bankruptcy. The ship was then purchased by the Great Eastern Ship Company, a new entity formed by the original shareholders, and renamed the SS Great Eastern. Still, she was never able to turn a profit as a passenger ship, so in 1865 she was converted to laying cable under the sea. Apparently, she was quite successful in this second incarnation, laying cable until 1874. This was followed by a series of attempts to again use the Great Eastern as a passenger ship, all unsuccessful, and some mostly unsuccessful attempts to make money by placing her on display. Finally, the deteriorating old hulk was sent off to the salvage yard to be broken down for scrap in 1888, just 30 years after her launching. $2,250.
Item 233 is an important but rare bibliography pertaining to America's natives, A Bibliographical Catalogue of Books, Translations of the Scriptures, and Other Publications in the Indian Tongues... The author was explorer Henry Schoolcraft, best noted for finding the source of the Mississippi. He was an expert in Indian culture, having spent many years visiting and learning about tribes of the upper Midwest, and marrying a woman who was part Ojibwa. This is the 1849 printing with 139 listings, which Oak Knoll notes as being much harder to find than a later expanded bibliography included with one of Schoolcraft's other books. $1,250.
For Limited Editions Club collectors, Oak Knoll includes 65 titles. We do not have space to mention them all, but here is a noteworthy sample: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes... by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is an eight-volume set of his works published from 1950-1952. Item 21. $650.
Oak Knoll Books may be found online at www.oakknoll.com, telephone 800-996-2556.