"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.
Two works by Charles Darwin
D. Appleton & Company. New York, 1896.
Includes: Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World. * Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands and Parts of South America Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. Two volumes, original half red morocco and marbled boards. Reprints.
Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine
Norbert Wiener. Paris, 1948.
First edition of the first book to discuss electronic computing (preceded only by a few technical reports). Wiener was a professor of Mathematics at MIT. “The revolutionary aspect of this work can hardly be underestimated.” (Origins of Cyberspace).
Brown’s kleurvisioenen met een woord ter aanwijzing en verklaring
J.H. Brown. Leeuwarden, Hugo Suringar, 1866.
Original illustrated green cloth-backed boards, flyleaves with publishers advertisements. With 16 numbered lithographed plates (13 hand-coloured) lithographed by Morriën & Amand, Amsterdam.  pp.
Rare first edition of the Dutch translation of J.H. Brown’s Spectropia, or surprising spectral illusions (1864), using the 19th-century knowledge of optics to explain how people see ghosts. A second edition was published ca. 1870.
As described in the (original) introduction: ” To see the spectres, it is only necessary to look steadily at the dot, or asterisk, which is to be found on each of the plates, for about a quarter of a minute,.. Then turning the eyes to the ceiling… of a darkened room (not totally dark), and looking rather steadily at any one point, the spectre will soon being to make its appearance, increasing in intensity, and then gradually vanishing, to reappear and vanish again.”
B-A Note: A translation of the popular Spectropia, which I posted here a few months back. Serendipity is fun!
The wonders of the heavens, being a popular view of astronomy, including a full illustration of the mechanism of the heavens; embracing the sun, moon, stars, with descriptions of planets, comets, fixed stars, double stars, the constellations, the galaxy or milky-way, the zodiacal light, aurora borealis, or northern lights, meteors, clouds, falling stars, aërolites, &c.
Duncan Bradford. Boston, American Stationers Co., 1837
First edition of a popular American astronomical guide with exquisite plates with views on the moon, and stellar constellations adorned with the zodiacal symbols.). It contains an engraved frontispiece with Herschel’s telescope, an engraved title with zodiac, 6 full-page engraved plates with telescopic views of the moon in different phases and planets, and 6 hand-coloured folding engraved plates with celestial charts.
B-A Note: Old scientific books can have such long, elaborate titles!
Sammlung Lief- und Ehstlands Insecten
DRÜMPELMANN, Ernst Wilhelm. Livonia, between 1794-1802
Contemporary (matching) silk boards, with small vignette on the front boards and gilt edges; probably from the library of Czar Alexander I of Russia. Manuscript on paper (mostly laid paper with watermark of Jan Kool and wove paper of J. Whatman, nearly all dated 1794). With 2 calligraphic manuscript title-pages on a watercolour cartouche decorated with floral garlands, and over 500 watercolour drawings of insect on 39 leaves (with tissue guards and smaller leaves with names in German and Latin).
Beautifully illustrated manuscript of the entomological fauna of Estonia and Livonia, almost certainly written and drawn by Ernst Wilhelm Drümpelmann (1758-1830), physician in Riga, the capital of Latvia. The present volumes contain all orders of insects, except for the third class of Lepidoptera, included in a separate volume, auctioned by Christies in 2008.
Spectropia; or Surprising Spectral Illusions; showing Ghosts everywhere, and of every colour
Brown (J.H., of Brighton). 1865.
First Series, fourth edition, 16 plates, all but three hand-coloured, original cloth-backed printed boards, rubbed, 4to, 1865.
The introduction explains, “the following Illusions are founded on two well-known facts; namely, the persistency of impressions, and the production of complementary colours, on the retina.”
NEWTON (ISAAC), SIGORGNE (PIERRE)
Second edition, 6 folding engraved plates, contemporary mottled calf gilt, 8vo, Paris, Guillyn, 1769
“… Sigorgne forcefully demonstrated the Newtonian arguments for the physical instability of the hypothetical vortices and the mathematical incompatibility between vortex motion and Kepler’s laws. His Institution newtoniennes (1747),a clear introduction no Newtonian mathematical and physical principles, contributed to the acceptance of the attraction theory by the French scientific community. ” ~encyclopedia.com
The Savage World Natural History - IllustratedJ.W. Buel
This work is founded upon the theory of the progression of species and in accordance with the genetic revelation, scriptural truths, and the harmony of nature; with an introduction describing the geological ages, changes in the earth’s crusts, fossil remains of extinct animals, and monsters of the ancient seas, replete with anecdote, incident and adventure, illustrative of the habits of the animals described, abounding with thrilling experiences, wonderful discovery, exciting episodes and descriptions of the marvelous curiosities of nature in all parts of the globe. Embellished with over 1500 elegant engravings illustrating the animals of the earth in their natural condition.
submitted by photosymphony
B-A Note: Beautiful binding! Thank you for submitting it.
Episodes of Insect Life
Budgen (E.L.)] “Acheta Domestica”, 1849.
3 vol., first edition, wood-engraved frontispieces and illustrations, many hand-coloured, 16pp. advertisements at end of each vol., superb original pictorial cloth, gilt. Exceptional Victorian publisher’s cloth bindings, vol.1 and 2 of a slightly paler blue to that of vol.3, but all three generally in excellent condition.
B-A Note: I took a look at this on Google Books to find out more, and nearly got lost for the day reading it. Beautifully written:
“While our native glowworms have begemmed no other beauty but that of the sleeping wild-flowers, the tropic fireflies have sparkled in dark tresses, and been rivaled by flashing eyes…. “
And in defense of science:
“Science, in removing partially the veil which conceals from us the mechanism of created things, leaves them still invested with every charm thrown around them by the imaginative mind.”
“But, worst of all! - horror of horrors! - we have it on excellent evidence, how that a certain great green grasshopper (one of the sort just described) on being bottled up together with his own leg (accidentally detached), did make a hearty meal off that late portion of himself.”
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.”
Livre de Chiffre. manuscript in french written in cursive hand in brownish-black ink with headings in red, recto and verso, on laid paper. 137 leaves. 374x254 mm, contemporary vellum, quite worn; marginal stains throughout, scattered foxing, title soiled and stained, free endpapers lacking. Cuers, France: “fait par Moi Basile Reynaud,” 1 July 1753
The text comprises explanations and examples of basic arithmetic operations applied to whole numbers and fractions, a lengthy section on commercial arithmetic, and a brief account of square and cube roots at the end.
“Figure di fisico matematica, tom. prim [-secon.] Anno 1822”, pair of attractive manuscript volumes comprising 174 numbered pages of pen-and-ink drawings and titles, plus indices, one or two with colour added by a near contemporary identifying himself as ‘Gabrieli Giovanni’, nearly 180 leaves in total, contemporary half vellum, minor wear and imperfections, 8vo, 1822 (2)
A treatise on the muscular and bone structure of the head by a student of Albinus
COURCELLES, David Cornelis de
Leyden, Ex typographia Dammeana (H. van Damme), for the author, 1743. 4to. Contemporary vellum, red morocco title label, lettered in gold, red painted edges. With 8 folding engraved plates. (4), 83, (4) pp.
First edition of a detailed work on the anatomy of the human head by the Dutch physician David Cornelis de Courcelles, illustrated with fascinating anatomical plates, depicting the muscular structure and bones of the head. The text is in Latin and Dutch (from pp. 33-83). A second edition was published by A.& J. Honkoop at Leyden in 1786. De Courcelles was probably born at The Hague and studied at Leyden. He is also famous for his publication ”Icones musculorum plantae pedis eorumque descriptio” (Leyden, 1739), on the muscular structure on the footsole, which is a complementary study to the celebrated anatomy of the bones and muscles by De Courcelles teacher Albinus.
B-A Note: There are a couple more similarly - er - interesting images from the book at the link.