Here are 13 rare books which defy easy classification in the world of collecting. But they are interesting and might surprise you. Who knows? Take a look and call us (at 212 289 2345) or send us an Email (to email@example.com).
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson | Signed, $150
In the tradition of Knut Hamsun, this Norwegian author tell a touching story of a boy growing up and experiencing the anguish of maturity. A haunting story of delusion and memory in the days before and after World War II; Trond, the narrator, tells of the tragic events he experienced with a friend and with his parents as a 15-year old and then, subsequently, other gripping and horrifying experiences until, at 67, he lives alone and grieves the past. Petterson won many literary awards for this book, including the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The New York Times cited it as one of the best books of the year. Reportedly, only 4000 copies of this English edition were released. It was translated from Norwegian by Anne Born. The original edition came out in Norway in 2003.
Saint Paul MN: Gray Wolf Press, 2007. First edition. A mint, signed copy in gray boards with silver spine lettering in a mint, photographic dustwrapper, signed by the author on the title page.
New York: Viking, 1972. First edition. This epistolary novel tells the story of Augustus, emperor of Rome, from his childhood through old age. The book is divided into two parts, the beginning describes his rise to power, the latter his rule thereafter, and the problems of choosing a successor. Williams won the 1953 National Book Award for this book (an honor shared with John Barth for Chimera). Two other novels by Williams, Stoner and Butcher’s Crossing, little known at publication, have become cult classics in recent years. A movie is being made presently of Stoner, featuring Ben Affleck.
New York: Viking, 1972. First edition. A fine copy in quarter-bound green cloth and red boards with pale red topstain, square and tight, in a fine dustwrapper featuring a sculptural rendering of Augustus.
The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498 to 1909, Six Volumes | $7500
I. N. Phelps Stokes, Editor
The monumental pictorial history of Manhattan in six volumes was published between 1915 and 1928. This astonishing work was created by Newton Phelps Stokes, an architect from a prominent New York family who ended up devoting his life to the publication of this comprehensive depiction of the city from its founding. Phelps Stokes employed a small army of professionals to collect 6000 plates, early maps, and views of New York, as well as many handwritten and printed accounts of events in and around Manhattan. There are reproductions of handbills, broadsides, treaties with native Americans, gambling licenses, water rights, portraits, shipping records, patents, and a plethora of other scarce materials. There are articles scattered in the six volumes by authors engaged to describe events relating to New York from the Dutch and English periods through the Revolutionary War and the great era of U. S. expansion in the 19th Century. A detailed chronology of historical references to the city and an extensive bibliography of historical references make these volumes extraordinarily valuable to students of New York history. Many of the plates in color, such as the one below of early Manhattan, are lovely. Virtually bankrupted by the publication of these books, Phelps Stokes ended up curating the print collection at the New York Public Library, where most of the materials from the Iconography reside.
New York: Robert H Dodd, 1915 – 1928. First edition. Six quarto volumes (11 1/4″ by 8″) bound in publisher’s original half vellum and blue cloth with gilt spine lettering and the seal of New York on the front and rear panels of each volume. Minor soiling or yellowing to the vellum, several hinges cracked or starting, a few areas of wear to the gilt top edges, and bookplates removed from the rear pastedowns, Vol. 6 is recased with the endpapers renewed. One of 360 copies on handmade paper (entire edition of 402). A very nice set of this unique and scarce work in its original edition.
Garden City: Dolphin Doubleday, 1987. First edition. A fine copy in brown cloth with gilt spine lettering and a replica of Oates’ signature on the front panel in a fine pictorial dustwrapper. The book is square and tight, the dustwrapper immaculate. Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor Emerita of the Humanities at Princeton University.
The Telephone Booth Indian by A. J. Liebling [Alexander Woollcott’s copy] | $125
The New Yorker Magazine since its founding has presented to the reading public a plethora of talented writers, none funnier than A. J. Liebling, a noted war correspondent and famed lover of France, boxing, food, and just about any other subject you can think of. One of his great delights was to observe the scams perpetrated by the con men who operate in the shadows of Times Square, conducting business out of telephone booths while planning nefarious schemes to fool the public. In this delightful book, Liebling celebrates with wit and charisma these outrageous outliers, such as Sy Sky, the man who could be called in at 2:00 am to redecorate a clip joint so that it could not be identified by a man who had just been robbed of a bank roll and might return with cops the next day.
This copy belonged originally to Alexander Woolcott, a prominent critic who captivated readers with his acidic and funny reviews of the New York Theater scene. Woolcott served as the model for The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart as well as being one of the founding editors of Stars and Stripes Newspaper and a member of The Algonquin Round Table.
Garden City: Doubleday, 1942. First edition. A very good copy in gray cloth with blue spine lettering, square and tight, with spine a bit sunned and with bumping to the corners. The bookplate of Alexander Woolcott is on the front free endpaper. There is no dustwrapper.
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro | Signed, $150
This interesting book is told from the point of view of an aging artist looking back with chagrin on a terrible decision he made early in his life to abandon art devoted to the celebration of physical beauty and instead work in the service of the Imperialist movement that led Japan into World War II. The novel was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for the same year. Another of his books, The Remains of the Day, won the Booker Prize for fiction in 1989. Ishiguro was recently awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.
London: Faber & Faber, 1986. First edition, second printing (by Richard Clay). A fine copy in black cloth with bright gilt spine lettering. There is the usual slight toning to the pages. The book is housed in a fine pictorial dustwrapper. Ishiguro’s signature is on the title page.
Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee | Signed, $125
Black humor, which after WWII pervaded British and American literature –to its infinite enhancement–might be said to have commenced with Kingsley Amis and his first novel, Lucky Jim. The hero, Jim Dixon, is a medieval history lecturer at a Red brick university in the English Midlands. He is seeking tenure and at the same time coping with a girl friend, Margaret Peel, a fellow lecturer, who makes one question the whole idea of courting. The plot is suitably complex, containing university scholars who give new meaning to pretentiousness and bogus learning. Readers discover soon enough that Jim cannot handle it as his actions, fueled by alcohol, unfold in some of the funniest scenes in modern literature. Philip Larkin called it “miraculously and intensely funny.” We agree.
Garden City: Doubleday, 1954. First edition. A fine copy in brown cloth with white spine lettering, square and tight, in a near-fine dustwrapper illustrated by Edward Gorey with mild toning, mostly to the spine, light soiling to the rear panel, and moderate edgewear with minor creasing.
Boyhood Photos of J. H. Lartigue: The Family Album of a Gilded Age | $150
A wonderful representation of France’s happy life in the years leading up to the outbreak of hostilities in WWI as seen through the lens of the incomparable photographer, Jacque-Henri Lartigue. Lartigue is probably the most popular of French photographers among Americans due to the joyful and exciting action he captures in so many of his photographs. At the age of seven, as the 20th Century began, Lartigue received a camera as a gift from his father. His life thereafter religiously included daily photographs, first of scenes from his privileged family life, then spiraling outwards to encompass everything from flying machines to racing automobiles. With his cousins, we see pictures in this album of their three-seater peddle racing machine, gliders built and flown in the field (with resulting crashes) and an inflatable suit for drifting in the river without getting wet. With Proustian precision, he shows us the elegant ladies and gentlemen of the Belle Epoch strolling in the parks of Paris. There can’t be a better reason for photography than this charming book.
Lausanne: Ami Guichard, 1966. First edition. A fine copy in oblong size (approx 9 1/4″ x 11 1/2″) in publisher’s maroon binding decorated in gilt on upper cover and spine, upper cover with a half-tone photograph of Lartigue as a boy. Printed on heavy gray stock with numerous tipped-in plates, simulating a homemade photo album of the era. Issued without dustwrapper.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway | $175
A posthumously-published collection of writings which are accounts of Hemingway’s life in 1920s Paris, his years as a struggling young expatriate journalist and writer. The memoir consists of various personal accounts, observations, and stories by Hemingway. He provides specific addresses of apartments, bars, cafes, and hotels — many of which can still be found in Paris today. The memoir was published from Hemingway’s manuscripts and notes by his fourth wife and widow, Mary Hemingway, in 1964, three years after the author’s death. Illustrated with pictures of Hemingway and several of his wives. Here we find him in the company of Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others in this very nice paean to the City of Lights.
New York: Scribner’s 1964. First Edition. A fine copy in quarter-backed red cloth and marbleized boards with gilt lettering and gray topstain in very good, bright dustwrapper with a little loss of material at the spine ends and at the points, and with some rubbing throughout. This is the true first edition (with A-3.64 on the copyright page).
Without a Stitch in Time by Peter DeVries | Signed, $75
Peter De Vries was one the America’s funniest writers who worked for The New Yorker from 1944 to 1987, a prolific and popular figure who turned out tons of short stories, reviews, poetry, essays, a play, novellas, and twenty-three novels. “The Tunnel of Love,” A successful Broadway play, later a popular film, was his best-known work. Without a Stitch in Time, a selection of forty-six articles and stories written for The New Yorker between 1943 and 1973, offers amusing autobiographical vignettes that resonate with De Vries’s nervous wit: an authorial battle between the author’s Calvinist upbringing in 1920s Chicago and the postwar world. DeVries was especially noted for his verbal fluidity and wordplay. This book is a distant, but still contemporary, bugle blowing from the past.
Boston: Little Brown, 1972. First edition. A near-fine copy in a near-fine dust wrapper. The book is very gently bumped and soiled at the head of the spine, else fine. The dustwrapper has a dog-ear crease at the foot of the front flap and some very faint rubbing on the back, else fine. This is one of only sixty numbered copies of the signed and numbered first edition.
The Mystic Masseur by V. S. Naipaul | $150
The grandfather of V. S. Naipaul was an immigrant farm laborer from India who moved to Trinidad in search of a better life. His son became an English-language journalist who wrote for the Trinidad Guardian. Equally important, he encouraged his son, “Vidia,” to pursue a life in letters, which he did with the help of a scholarship to Oxford University. In a career leading to a Nobel Prize in Literature, Naipaul’s first books were set in his birthplace, Trinidad. The Mystic Masseur, his first novel, describes a frustrated writer of Indian descent who rises from an impoverished background to become a successful politician, due in large part to his somewhat dubious skill as a “mystic” masseur who can heal the sick. Unlike his later work, this book and A House for Mr. Biswas, which followed, reflects the comic talents of this great writer.
New York: Vanguard Press, 1959. First Edition. Introduction by Lord David Cecil. A fine copy in black cloth with blue and cream lettering and design in a fine, bright dustwrapper with no imperfections, featuring a charming drawing by Micklewright on the front panel.