"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
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Illust. Willy Pogany.
London, Hutchinson & Co. [c.1908]
xx, 210 pp. 16 color plates by Willy Pogany (printed on linen). (8vo) original cloth. Early edition.
“Whatever is the lot of humankind
I want to taste within my deepest self.
I want to seize the highest and the lowest,
to load its woe and bliss upon my breast,
and thus expand my single self titanically
and in the end go down with all the rest.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
Siete Poemas Sajones; Seven Saxon Poems
Jorge Luis Borges. Verona: Plain Wrapper Press, .
Printed in maroon and black in Horizon Light type on Richard de Bas handmade paper, text in Spanish and English, 8 embossed vignettes by Arnaldo Pomodoro. Folio, original full vellum with three vertical bas-reliefs of gilded bronze inset into upper cover, spine titled in brown.
Aigned limited edition, number 22 of 100 copies from a total edition of 120. signed by the author and artist in the colophon. A beautiful and impressive production. Copies are difficult to locate outside institutional holdings and rarely to appear at auction; ABPC records only three copies sold.
Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia
Gertrude Stein. Florence, Private Printing, 1912.
8vo, original hand-made floral Florentine wallpaper wrappers, neatly split along fold, small creasing to upper front wrapper; printed paper label on front cover, faint foxing; small finger smudge at margin of one page.
First edition, one of 300 unnumbered copies and ex-collection artist Arthur Dove with his signature in pencil on the recto of the rear wrapper. This copy with the printer’s imprint at the foot of page . Often cited as the first American abstract painter, Dove was well acquainted with Stein and they moved in the same circles in New York and Paris, and Stein’s language experiments may be seen as a linguistic corollary to Dove’s early experimental oil abstractions.
Joseph Conrad. First edition, spotting and offsetting, ownership inscriptions to front free endpaper, publisher’s illustrated cloth gilt, soiled, upper hinge splitting, 8vo, William Blackwood, 1900.
To the white men in the waterside business and to the captains of ships he was just Jim—nothing more. He had, of course, another name, but he was anxious that it should not be pronounced. His incognito, which had as many holes as a sieve, was not meant to hide a personality but a fact. When the fact broke through the incognito he would leave suddenly the seaport where he happened to be at the time and go to another—generally farther east. He kept to seaports because he was a seaman in exile from the sea, and had Ability in the abstract, which is good for no other work but that of a water-clerk. He retreated in good order towards the rising sun, and the fact followed him casually but inevitably. Thus in the course of years he was known successively in Bombay, in Calcutta, in Rangoon, in Penang, in Batavia—and in each of these halting-places was just Jim the water-clerk. Afterwards, when his keen perception of the Intolerable drove him away for good from seaports and white men, even into the virgin forest, the Malays of the jungle village, where he had elected to conceal his deplorable faculty, added a word to the monosyllable of his incognito. They called him Tuan Jim: as one might say—Lord Jim. ~Excerpt from Chapter 1
Vladimir Nabokov. Paris, Olympia Press, 1955.
2 vol., first edition, original wrappers, price 900 Francs on lower covers indicating first printing.
You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy, with a bubble of hot poison in your loins and a super-voluptuous flame aglow in your subtle spine (oh, how you have to cringe and hide!), in order to discern at once, by ineffable signs—the slightly feline outline of a cheekbone, the slenderness of a downy limb, and other indices which despair and shame and tears of tenderness forbid me to tabulate—the deadly little demon among the wholesome children; she stands unrecognized by them and unconscious herself of her fantastic power. ~Chapter 1
The Gormenghast Trilogy
Mervyn Peake. 1946 - 1959.
3 vol., comprising Titus Groan, ink inscription to front pastedown, spine a little bumped, first state jacket without quotes, some soiling to lower panel, 1946; Gormenghast, spine a little bumped, jacket with some light foxing, 1950; Titus Alone, frontispiece by Peake, jacket with light foxing, 1959, first editions, occasional light foxing, original cloth, spotting to fore-edge, dust-jackets, spines a little browned, but otherwise a good set, 8vo.
“Withdrawn and ruinous it broods in umbra: the immemorial masonry: the towers, the tracks. Is all corroding? No. Through an avenue off spires a zephyr floats; a bird whistles; a freshet bears away from a choked river. Deep in a fist of stone a doll’s hand wriggles, warm rebellious on the frozen palm. A shadow shifts its length. A spider stirs…
And darkness winds between the characters.”
Typee: A romance of the South Seas
Herman Melville. New York: Pr. by John S. Fass at the Harbor Press for the Limited Editions Club, 1935.
Melville’s account of life among the cannibals of the Marquesas Islands, with an introduction by Raymond Weaver, his first biographer, and with watercolor illustrations byMiguel Covarrubias, who signed the colophon. This is numbered copy 1012 of 1500 printed on Worthy Paper Co. rag paper, bound by George McKibbin & Son in full East Indian tappa cloth with the spine stamped in black and green in a design by Covarrubias also used on the slipcase.
“But these reflections now seldom obtruded upon me; I gave myself up to the passing hour, and if ever disagreeable thoughts arose in my mind, I drove them away. When I looked around the verdant recess in which I was buried, and gazed up to the summits of the lofty eminence that hemmed me in, I was well disposed to think that I was in the ‘Happy Valley’, and that beyond those heights there was naught but a world of care and anxiety. As I extended my wanderings in the valley and grew more familiar with the habits of its inmates, I was fain to confess that, despite the disadvantages of his condition, the Polynesian savage, surrounded by all the luxurious provisions of nature, enjoyed an infinitely happier, though certainly a less intellectual existence than the self-complacent European.” ~Chapter XVII
The Mookse and the Gripes and The Ondt and the Gracehopper. From Two Tales of Shem and Shaun, Finnegans Wake
Joyce, James. Chicago: The Compulsive Printer, 1977-78
Binding by Joseph D’Ambrosio.
Two titles based on Two Tales of Shem and Shaun. Illustrated with serigraphs and block prints by d’Ambrosio. 8vo, original bindings. Each a limited edition. Bound in ruby red velvet and 23k gold leaf over a relief-serigraph, designed by the artist; book and separate print laid into rose board slipcase. Prospectus card signed by d’Ambrosio laid in.
“Eins within a space and a wearywide space it wast ere wohned a Mookse. The onesomeness wast alltolonely, archunsitslike, broady oval, and a Mookse he would a walking go (My hood! cries Antony Romeo),so one grandsumer evening, after a great morning and his good supper of gammon and spittish, having flabelled his eyes, pilleoled his nostrils, vacticanated his ears and palliumed his throats, he put on his impermeable, seized his impugnable, harped on his crown and stepped out of his immobile De Rure Albo (socolled becauld it was chalkfull of masterplasters and had borgeously letout gardens strown with cascadas, pinta-costecas, horthoducts and currycombs) and set off from Luds-town a spasso to see how badness was badness in the weirdest of all pensible ways.” ~The Mookse and the Gripes, Finnegans Wake
Moby-Dick, or, The Whale.
Herman Melville. Arion Press, San Francisco, 1979.
(Initial publication 1851)
Printed in blue and black on handmade paper bearing a whale watermark. 100 woodcut illustrations by Barry Moser. Folio, full blue Moroccan goatskin, spine slightly but evenly darkened, joints and ends lightly rubbed; internally clean; blue cloth slipcase, unevenly faded and with some surface marks.
One of 250 unnumbered copies of the first trade edition of the Arion Press edition, designed by Andrew Hoyem. One of the greatest achievements in modern bookmaking.
“Warmest climes but nurse the cruellest fangs: the tiger of Bengal crouches in spiced groves of ceaseless verdure. Skies the most effulgent but basket the deadliest thunders: gorgeous Cuba knows tornadoes that never swept tame northern lands. So, too, it is, that in these resplendent Japanese seas the mariner encounters the direst of all storms, the Typhoon. It will sometimes burst from out that cloudless sky, like an exploding bomb upon a dazed and sleepy town.” ~Chapter cxix
In honor of Book-Aesthete’s membership reaching 20,000! Thank you all for your interest and for spreading the word.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Jules Verne. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1873.
This is the true American first edition. This Osgood edition, although dated 1873, was actually published in November 1872, the same month as Sampson Low’s British edition. An edition was then produced by George M. Smith, also of Boston, in a very similar binding (Smith’s has Captain Nemo using a sextant and reads “Under the Seas”), and it is this edition that is more frequently seen. The Osgood edition has decidedly sharper images. Although the reason for the scarcity is unknown, it is speculated that most of the Osgood copies were destroyed in the Great Boston Fire.
“The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumours which agitated the maritime population and excited the public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the Governments of several States on the two continents, were deeply interested in the matter.
For some time past vessels had been met by “an enormous thing,” a long object, spindle-shaped, occasionally phosphorescent, and infinitely larger and more rapid in its movements than a whale.”
Part One, Chapter One.
Unknown, unfortunately. I would like to know if this book cover is recognized
demi-mon-daine: It’s a beautiful cover - thank you for submitting it! It is a copy of Jane Eyre, with the cover illustration and engravings by Fritz Eichenberg. Per this Allison Morris post at Publisher’s Weekly, it was published by Random House in 1943.
There are several images of the illustrations at the link above, including this beauty:
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde. Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine Privately Printed, 1904.
20-pages of advertisements (including 16 for Ward and Lock), publisher’s printed wrappers in red and black, lacks lower wrapper, upper wrapper detached, chipped at edges and head and tail of spine [Mason 81], 8vo, Ward, Lock and Co., July, 1890; The Soul of Man Under Socialism, NUMBER 231 OF 250 COPIES, half-title inscribed in pencil “H.A. Jan. 08”, bookplate of HERBERT ASQUITH, publisher’s wrappers, 8vo.
The first appearance of Dorian Gray, containing thirteen chapters. The first edition in book form had an additional six chapters and was published by Ward, Lock in 1891. The Lippincott appearance was published simultaneously in London (as here, copies of which are not recorded in ABPC) and in Philadelphia (Mason 82).
“There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral—immoral from the scientific point of view.”
“Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion—these are the two things that govern us. And yet—”
Virginia Woolf. By Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1937.
First edition, original cloth, gilt spine, spine ends very slightly rubbed, dust-jacket, small chips to lower edges, small closed tears to lower spine and fold, 8vo,
“The sun was shining again; the damp pavements gleamed; a gust of wind tossed up the wet branches of the almond trees in the villa gardens; little twigs and tufts of blossom whirled onto the pavement and stuck there. As she stood still for a second at a crossing she too seemed to be tossed aloft out of her usual surroundings. She forgot where she was. The sky, blown into a blue open space, seemed to be looking down not here upon streets and houses, but upon open country, where the wind brushed the moors, and sheep, with grey fleeces ruffled, sheltered under stone walls. She could almost see the moors brighten and darken as the clouds passed over them.”
James Joyce. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922.
Quarto, contemporary half brown marbled sheep, raised bands, dark brown morocco spine labels, marbled boards and endpapers, uncut, original blue paper wrappers tipped in.
First edition of the novel that changed the path of modern literature, number 540 of only 750 numbered copies on handmade paper, with the now-iconic original paper wrappers tipped in at front and rear.
— People do not know how dangerous lovesongs can be, the auric egg of Russell warned occultly. The movements which work revolutions in the world are born out of the dreams and visions in a peasant’s heart on the hillside. For them the earth is not an exploitable ground but the living mother. The rarefied air of the academy and the arena produce the sixshilling novel, the musichall song, France produces the finest flower of corruption in Mallarmé but the desirable life is revealed only to the poor of heart, the life of Homer’s Ph&Aelig;acians.
—— episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis
Mervyn Peake. Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1946.
First Edition. Footnote: Copies complete with the first impression dust-jacket are scarce.
B-A Note: Have I mentioned how much I love the Gormenghast Trilogy? Yes? Only every time I post one of the books? Okay…