Summer Sunshine from Shapero Rare Books

- by Michael Stillman

Shaperosumsun

Summer Sunshine from Shapero Rare Books

Shapero Rare Books has issued a catalogue of Summer Sunshine, subtitled Fiction, Drama, Poetry, Philosophy, Art, Illustrated, Natural History, Sports & Pastimes, etc. It includes a mix of older first editions and 20th century updates in limited editions, fine bindings, and other more decorative features. The types of books, as the subtitle hints, cover a wide range. That being hard to further describe, we will take a look at a few of the books herein.

George Catlin was a Pennsylvania native who as a young man became fascinated by America's Indians. As an adult, he took extensive travels through the American West in the 1830s. Catlin was an artist, and he used his skills to capture portraits of the Indians as they appeared while still not too deeply affected by western culture. He then put his portraits on display, touring the cities of America, and later on Europe with his gallery. In 1844, he published a portfolio of 25 hand-colored portraits which, depending on condition, can run to six figures today. More affordable is a much larger collection of portraits he produced in line cuts in 1841 along with text entitled Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians. Item 23 is a first edition, second issue. Priced at £2,500 (British pounds, or roughly US $3,893).

Item 150 is a copy of The Ballad of Reading Gaol by C.C.3., published in 1898. C.C.3. referred to the cell in which prisoner Oscar Wilde spent time at Reading. He had been convicted of sodomy and sentenced to two years in prison, a stretch that badly damaged his health. He lived only three years after his release, that spent in alcohol, poverty, and declining health. The work is a poem, focused particularly on a fellow prisoner who was executed while Wilde was imprisoned. However, his focus is not so much on crime as the deplorable conditions under which prisoners were held. Offered is a third edition, or what Wilde called the “author's edition.” It was not clear to those outside of literary circles who the anonymous “C.C.3.” was, though this signed limited edition of 99 copies gave it away. It is signed “Oscar Wilde.” £15,000 (US $23,358).

Item 27 is one of many works by the French writer and performer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, or as she was known, simply “Colette.” She lived an adventurous life, with three husbands and many affairs, with both men and women. She was a controversial figure, but also a great supporter of her homeland during two wars, being selected for the Legion of Honor. Her best known story is Gigi, made into a Broadway play and film. This one is La Chatte (the cat) published in 1933. She published so many stories that she must have been running out of ideas as this one is about a love triangle involving a husband, a wife, and his cat. As Shapero explains, “Camille loves Alain, but Alain loves his cat, whom he has had from childhood, more than he could love any woman.” We will not attempt to psychoanalyze Alain. This copy is inscribed by “Colette.” £425 (US $661).

Isadora Duncan danced her way into people's hearts at the turn of the century. Literally. She was a dancer, considered to be a founder of modern dance. Born and raised in America, she left for Europe in 1898 where she found greater acceptance. She spent most of the remainder of her life there though she did return to America for a while, and also attempted to open a dance school in the Soviet Union (her leanings were decidedly to the left). Isadora Duncan died in a bizarre accident in 1927, her scarf being caught in the wheel of the sports car in which she was riding, breaking her neck. Item 43 is The Art of Dance, a tribute to Ms. Duncan published in 1928. £275 (US $428).