"May blessings be upon the head of Cadmus, the Phoenicians, or whoever it was that invented books." -Thomas Carlyle
Welcome to my virtual book collection. Since collecting actual books is somewhat cost-prohibitive, I've begun to amass all of the books I would love to have if I had the means. Some are new, lots are old, all are unique or beautiful or unusual or in some other way have captured my fancy. Enjoy browsing!
Special Collections: Fine Bindings ~ Fairies and Fairy Tales ~ Terror and Madness ~ Poetry ~ Food, Drink and Apothecary ~ Science Fiction ~ Illuminations, Lettering and Hand-Coloring ~ Magic ~ Supernatural and Occult ~ Alchemy ~ Science and Technical ~ Maritime ~ Costumes ~ Humor ~ Children's books ~ Legend of King Arthur ~ Americana ~ 18th Century ~ 19th Century Authors and illustrators: Edgar Allan Poe ~ Jules Verne ~ Edmund Dulac ~ Kay Nielsen ~ Arthur Rackham ~ Edward Gorey ~ Charles Dickens ~ H.P. Lovecraft ~ William Hope Hodgson ~ Mark Twain ~ Lewis Carroll ~ Salvador Dali ~ George Cruikshank ~ Emily Dickinson ~ Geoffrey Chaucer ~ H.G. Wells
Historia insectorum generalis, in qua verissimae mutationum, seu lentae in membra epigeneseos rationes, duce Experientia, redduntur, recepta vulgo Insectorum Metamorphosis solide refutatur… Adjicitur dilucidatio … Editio Nova.
Re-issue of the rare Latin translation first published in Utrecht, by Meinardus van Dreunen in 1684, of Swammerdam’s famous work on the metamorphosis of insects. The original Dutch edition was published in 1669 also by Van Dreunen.
Paradise Lost: A Poem in Twelve Books.
John Milton. London: Pr. by Miles Flesher for Jacob Tonson, 1688.
“The fourth edition, adorn’d with sculptures” — that is to say,the first illustrated appearance of Paradise Lost, as well as what Hodnett calls “the earliest serious effort to illustrate an important work of English poetry” — andthe first folio edition to boot — Pforzheimer noting that this is additionally the first publication of Dryden’s lines on Milton.
Hortulus sanitatis, das ist, ein heylsam[en] und nützliches Gährtlin der Gesundtheit.
Durante, Castore. ca. 1609
First and only German edition, coloured by a contemporary hand, of an important herbal originally published in Italian as Herbario Nuovo (Rome 1585), beautifully illustrated with about 1000 woodcuts, at least some drawn by Konrad Gesner (1516-1565). Most, of course, show plants, but there is also a view of a pond with water plants, Ducks and a building, and others showing more than just plants. The translation is by Peter Uffenbach. Durante’s book was the first native Italian publication to give “a fairly full account of the medicinal value credited to tobacco” (Arents).
The Courtier’s Calling: Shewing the Ways of Making a Fortune, and the Art of Living at Court, according to the Maxims of Policy & Morality. In Two Parts.
Jacques de Caillieres. J.C. for Richard Tonson, 1675.
The first concerning noblemen: the second concerning gentlemen. By a person of honour, engraved frontispiece, errata at end.
Theatrum Fungorum oft het tooneel der Campernoelien. Waer inne vertoont wort de gedaente, ken-teeckens, natuere, crachten, voetsel, deught ende ondeught; mitsgaders het voorsichtigh schoonmaken ende bereyden van alderhande Fungien.
An old book about mushrooms doesn’t sound particularly gripping. But hold on, the book in question is special. Published in 1675, Theatrum Fungorum by Franciscus van Sterbeeck was the first book to be dedicated entirely to fungi. Frans van Sterbeeck was a Flemish priest with a passion for botany, who lived in Antwerp in Belgium. In 1601, a now highly-collectible botany book called Rariorum Plantarum Historia addressed mushrooms along with many other plants, but van Sterbeeck made botanical history with his work.
The book was written in Dutch, rather than Latin, to be understood by the common man (such as farmers, kitchen servants and cooks), and offered valuable advice on what fungi were edible and what were poisonous. The author details 349 fungi and features copper engraved illustrations (one pictured at left, three pictured below). Theatrum Fungorum was inspired by an important manuscript on mushrooms called Code de l’Éscluse and that original document can be seen on display in Leiden University library in Holland.
With the bookplate and signature of William Byrd of Westover, VA
Maccovius, Johannes. Amsterdam, Joannem Janssonium, 1651.
Bound With: Senguerdius, Arnoldus. Idea Metaphysicae Generalis. Utrecht: Joannem a Waesberge, 1647. [vi], 206,  pp. 12.2x6.5 cm. (4¾x2½”), period full vellum, leather spine label.
With the (trimmed) bookplate of William Byrd, of Westover, Virginia. A handsome, elaborate armorial bookplate engraved circa 1725, but probably not in America.
Dionysius Cartusianus. Opuscula aliquot, title loose, contemporary blind-stamped calf, lacking 1 metal clasp (of 2), blind-stamped crucifiction centre-piece to upper cover and one of an arabeque design to lower cover, spine ends chipped, rubbed, Munich, no printer, 1603 § [Duch prayer book], attractive contemporary red morocco, richly gilt, metal clasps, spine in compartments and with a green leather label, lower corners worn, rubbed, g.e., no place or printer [18th century] § Cardinal’s Binding.- Præparatio ad Missam et Gratiarum Actio Post Ipsam, title in red and black, engraved illustration of Last Supper, date erased from title, attractive contemporary calf, richly gilt, covers with central cardinal’s arms, spine in compartments and with gilt floral decoration, Rome, Salvioni, [18th century]; and another, 17th century vellum, gilt, binding, v.s. (4) sold as bindings and not subject to return.
A Detection of the Actions of Mary, Queen of Scots, Concerning the Murther of her Husband, and Her Conspiracy, Adultery and Pretended Marriage with the Earl Bothwel.
Modern half calf [Wing B5282], Richard Janeway, 1689—
It is to be confessed that in this History there is but a parcel,
and it tells you but of one circumstance, yet gives light to
a many considerable ones, which
that the common Reader may the better draw
out, I shall only briefly acquaint him that
James the fifth, a cruel and vain-glorious
‘Prince lost his two only Sons, (both in one
week] a little before he was slain at Flod-
den-field, and so left no other Heir, but
Mary, a Child of four days old, which he
never had seen. This Child was accepted
and at five years of age ( the Scots seeing
they were likely to make better merchandize
of her in France, than in England, tho’ they
then profer’d high sent her into France, and at
12 married her to the Dauphin………
A Blow at Modern Sadducism… by a Member of the Royal Society,
Joseph Glanville. James Collins, 1668.
Fourth edition, lacks final advertisement leaf, contemporary calf, joints splitting [Wing G800], 8vo, James Collins, 1668
“AND if any thing were to be much admired in an Age of Wonders, not only of Nature (which is a constant Prodigy) but of Men and Manners; it would be to (?) matter of Astonishment, that Men, otherwise witty and ingenious, are fallen into the conceit that there’s no such thing as a Witch or Apparition, but that these are the creatures of Melancholly and Superstition, foster’d by ignorance and design; which, comparing the confidence of their disbelief with the evidence of the things denied, and the weakness of their grounds, would almost suggest, that themselves are an argument of what they deny; and that so confident an Opinion could not be held upon such inducements, but by some kind of Witchcraft and Fascination in the Fancy.” -2nd paragraph
The Excellency of the Pen and Pencil
Albert Durer. Thomas Ratcliff and Thomas Daniel, for Dorman Newman and Richard Jones, 1668.
The excellency of the pen and pencil, exemplifying the uses of them in the most exquisite and mysterious arts of drawing, etching, engraving, limning. Painting in oyl, washing of maps & pictures. Also the way to Cleanse any Old Painting…, engraved folding plate and illustration in the text, some full-page.
The Planters Manual: Being instructions for the raising, planting, and cultivating all sorts of fruit-trees, whether stone-fruits or pepin-fruits, with their natures and seasons.
Cotton, Charles. London: Henry Brome, 1675.
8vo (16.3 cm, 6.4”). Add. engr. t.-p., , 139, [5 (4 adv.)] pp.
First edition of this first English translation of Robert Triquet’s classic treatise on stone and pome fruits, including lists of varietals, their uses, and how best to grow them — including grafting and espaliering techniques. The author, a poet as well as an ardent outdoorsman and naturalist, may be best remembered for his friendship with Izaak Walton, to whose Compleat Angler he added a second part. Here, interestingly, he prefaces this translation from the French with a diatribe against the “effeminate manners, luxurious kickshaws, and fantastick fashions” (p. ) making their way into England from France.
The added engraved title-page is signed “F.H. Van Houe fecit,” marking this as the earlier state of the engraving.
• ESTC R18563; Wing (rev. ed.) C6388. Full period-style Cambridge mottled calf, covers framed and panelled in blind fillets and dotted rolls with blind-tooled corner fleurons, board edges with gilt roll, spine with gilt-stamped title, etc., and spine compartments gilt extra. All edges marbled. Pages mildly cockled and gently age-toned, otherwise clean. A very attractive copy, and a nice snapshot of period pomology. (30099)
Histoire Comique par Monseiur de Cyrano Bergerac Contenant les Estats & Empires de la Lune
Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac. Lyons, chez Christophle Fourmy, 1662.
Woodcut device on title, lightly browned, contemporary mottled calf, spine gilt, 12mo. Important early science fiction work. Provenance: Camille Aboussouan (bookplate).
B-A Note: de Bergerac is, of course, best known for the mostly fictional romantic/comedic stories and plays about his life as a large-nosed duelist. However, he was an author and dramatist in his own right. Per a quite good biography of de Bergerac at kirjasto.sci.fi:
“Influenced by Gassendi’s theories and libertine philosophy, [de Bergerac] wrote stories of imaginary journeys to the Moon and Sun, and satirized views, which saw humanity and the Earth as the center of creation. He also mocked Descartes’ idea that animals are soulless machines. In his trip to the Moon the narratot takes off from the Earth in an apparatus festooned with firecrackers, and lands on the Tree of Life. The first person he meets is Elias, whom he upsets with his mocking comments about the soul. At the end he is thrown into the sky with an atheist, and lands safely in Italy. “
Ever now and then they raised such furious Shouts, occasioned undoubtedly by their Admiration’ at the sight of me, that I thought I was e’en turned a Monster. At length one of these Beast-like men, catching hold of me by the Neck, just as Wolves do when they carry away Sheep, tossed me upon his back and brought me into their Town ; where I was more amazed than before, when I knew they were Men, that I could meet with none of them but who marched upon all four.
Mathematical Magic; or, The Wonders that may be performed by Mechanical Geometry …
John Wilkins. Fourth Edition. London: Ric. Baldwin, 1691
“This short, condensed compendium … represents the first text on mechanics available in the English language … describing various machines, including strange devices and possibilities, such as a land vehicle powered by wind, submarines, flying automata, clocks, magnetic perpetuum mobile, etc.”—Bibliotheca Mechanica, page 354 (1648 original edition). Wing W2201 (this edition)
B-A Note: Two words I find it hard to resist: “flying automata.”
Lucasta: Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c . To Which is Added Aramantha, A Pastorall.
Richard Lovelace. London: Thomas Harper for Thomas Ewster, 1649.
8o (142 x 84 mm). Engraved allegorical title-page by William Faithorne after Peter Lilly (Johnson, Faithorne no. 4), engraved portrait of a lady (Lucasta) by the same, preceding “Aramantha” at p. 145), title-page in red and black, verse dedication “To the Right Honourable, my Lady Anne Lovelace” (2pp.), commendatory verses in praise of Lovelace (one by Andrew Marvell), table of contents (2pp.) at end. (Lacking blank leaves A4 and M4, minor soiling to a few pages.) Early 19th-century red-brown diced russia, covers blind-tooled with narrow lozenges, greek-key borders, edges gilt (neatly rebacked, preserving original spine); cloth clamshell case.
FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE (B2r with reading “Warres” in heading). One of the most important collections of seventeenth-century verse, by a gifted amateur poet associated with both the Cavalier and Metaphysical schools. A dedicated royalist shown great favor by Charles I, Lovelace was imprisoned on at least two occasions for his convictions. (In 1642, jailed for his support of a royalist petition, he composed “To Althea, from Prison,” with the well-known lines “Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage…”.) The “Lucasta” in the title has been identified with his mistress, Lady Lucy Sacheverell, who married another suitor when Lovelace was wrongly reported to have been killed in battle in France; but it is possible that Lucasta is merely a romantic creation of the poet’s imagination.
A Theatre of Politicall Flying-Insects
Samuel Purchas, Printed by R[obert]. I[bbitson]. for Thomas Parkhurst, to be sold at his shop, at the Three crowns in Cheapside, over against the Great Conduit, 1657.
A Theatre of Politicall Flying-Insects. Wherein especially the nature, the vvorth, the vvork, the wonder, and the manner of right-ordering of the Bee, is discovered and described, 2 parts in 1, titles in typographic borders.
*** The author was the son of Samuel Purchas, who wrote the Pilgrimage.Provenance: Henry, Duke of Newcastle (ink signature and engraved bookplate to inner front cover)
B-A Note: Political flying-insects. Such a great phrase - I’m sure I can find a use for it sooner than later.
B-A Note 2: For the… apiphile? Apiaphile? ..lover of bees, there are many more historical bee tomes here. I won’t post them all but some have lovely artwork.