"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
The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury. Avon CT, Limited Editions Club, 1974.
Illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini. Black cloth, speckled with white, glassine dust jacket, matching board slipcase. No. 1935 of 2,000 copies. Signed by the author and illustrator at the limitation.
“Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.”
― Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
The Works of H.G. Wells
Atlantic Edition. London: T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., 1924-27.
One of 620 hand-numbered copies for the U.K., and signed by the author, this being set 313; rarer than the American sets in cloth-backed green boards. Twenty-eight octavo volumes (8 11/16 x 6 inches; 221 x 153 mm.).
Photogravure frontispieces with tissue guards. Printed on pure rag paper watermarked “HGW.” Publisher’s original dark red buckram. Gilt lettering. Top edges gilt. Beveled edges. A very fine set in the original cream dust jackets printed in red. The best and most desirable edition of Wells’s works, with the author’s revisions to the texts, special preface to each volume, and general introduction to the set. Extremely scarce in the original printed dust jackets in fine condition.
B-A Note: Oh, the things I would do to own this set…
August 22, 1920 — June 5, 2012
Farewell to an incredible author and pillar of the science fiction literary world.
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
October, 1961. Cover art by Chesley Bonestell.
B-A Note: I was corresponding this morning with a co-worker by the last name of Bergeron. This made me think of Vonnegut’s dystopian short story “Harrison Bergeron”, first published in the October 1961 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and later republished in Vonnegut’s short-story collection “Welcome to the Monkey House”.
Many thanks to Belated Nerd for actually having an image of this issue. The internet is truly a marvellous thing! Belated Nerd is a great site for pop culture history fans. Check it out and enjoy.
Lovelace, Delos W. New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1932.
Novelized from the Radio Picture by Lovelace. Conceived by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper. (8vo), original green cloth, lettered in dark maroon, pictorial endpapers showing several action stills from the movie, color pictorial jacket with wrap-around artwork. First Edition.
The original novelization for the 1933 King Kong movie classic as part of the film’s advance marketing. Co-creator Merian Cooper was the key creative influence, saying that he got the initial idea after he had a dream that a giant gorilla was terrorizing New York City. Edgar Wallace, a famous writer of the time, died very early in the process and it is generally believed that little if anything of his ever appeared in the final story, but his name was retained for its saleability. Bleiler (1978), p. 127; Reginald 09268.
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.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip K. Dick. New York, 1968.
First edition, ex-library copy, with stamp and ink numbering to title, and base of p. 210, library label to endpaper, hinges weak, original cloth, cocked, frayed and marked at head and base, dust-jacket, spine faded, spine ends bumped, creased, 8vo.
B-A Note: I really like this jacket artwork for some reason.
“A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard. Surprised - it always surprised him to find himself awake without prior notice - he rose from the bed, stood up in his multicolored pajamas, and stretched.” - Chapter 1
“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity.” - Mercer
The Master of the World
Jules Verne. Sampson Low, Marston & Co. 
(Original publication date of story: 1904)
Description: FIRST ENGLISH BOOK-FORM EDITION, 30 plates, a neat early pen scribble to half-title and front endpapers, one plate and facing page with a small stain, a little light foxing to edges, pp. 317, , 8vo, original green cloth, pictorial spine and front board blocked in colour, spine also lettered in gilt (dulled), a little rubbed (causing slight loss to colouring on front board), spots of wear to joint ends and a short split at head of spine, good
Notes: One of Verne’s last novels - originally published in French in 1904, it was only followed by ‘Invasion of the Sea’ before the author’s death in March 1905. A poor-quality anonymous translation was included as part of a 1911 New York set of Verne’s works, and then this much better translation (also anonymous, but by Cranstoun Metcalfe) was serialised in the Boy’s Own Paper before this first publication in book format. The cover departs from the traditional black-and-gilt pictorial blocking style of earlier Verne translations with a dramatic colour gradient.
Heinlein (Robert A.) New York, 1959.
First edition, original cloth, gilt, dust-jacket, small chip to head of lower panel, otherwise a near-fine copy, 8vo,
B-A Note: I’m really surprised I haven’t read this yet. Always mean to but haven’t gotten around to it yet. From the synopses I’ve read it sounds quite fascinating - representing a social and political dialogue as well as the overt science fiction plot.
The film, of course, was hilariously bad.
The War of the Worlds
Herbert George Wells. London: William Heinemann, 1898.
Original gray cloth stamped in black. Faint toning, hinges partially cracked, cloth somewhat rubbed at joints and extremities, a few stray marks, spine slightly darkened. FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE with 16-page Autumn 1897 publisher’s catalogue inserted at rear. Currey pp 526-7.
B-A Note: Trivia: As many of you know, Orson Welles directed a radio drama in 1938 based on this book. It had a news-bulletin format and aired without commercials, leading many to believe it was a real news alert. Per wiki: “In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage and panic by certain listeners who had believed the events described in the program were real. The program’s news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast. The episode secured Welles’s fame.”
“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
- Opening Paragraph, The War of the Worlds
Stranger in a Strange Land
Heinlein (Robert A.) New York, 1961.
First edition, signed by the author, ‘C22’ to base of p. 408, upper hinge weak, original cloth, damp-stained, dust-jacket, priced $4.50, damp-stained at base, spine faded, rubbed, 8vo,
“Smith is not a man. He is an intelligent creature with the genes and ancestry of a man, but he is not a man. He’s more a Martian than a man. Until we came along he had never laid eyes on a human being. He thinks like a Martian, he feels like a Martian. He’s been brought up by a race which has nothing in common with us. Why, they don’t even have sex. Smith has never laid eyes on a woman — still hasn’t if my orders have been carried out. He’s a man by ancestry, a Martian by environment.”
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.
The Ship that Sailed to Mars
William M. Timlin, 1923.
First edition, calligraphic text with decorations and 48 colour plates by Timlin all mounted on card as issued, original parchment-backed boards, spine titled in gilt, very slightly rubbed at corners, but overall an excellent copy, 4to,
B-A Note: This picture is clearly a stock image from the book that appears many places on the web, rather than a picture of the actual book on auction, which is disappointing. Still worth an entry though. For further images of a similar book as well as more history and trivia, please visit this excellent and comprehensive Monster Brains entry from June. The full text of the book is available here. It really is a gorgeous publication.
“Upon a certain day it happened, just as the stars came flocking after the Sun, that he finished a design for a ship that would really fly. He knew in his heart that this was The Ship, and already he seemed to feel the dawn on Mars, and anon see its double moons wheeling through its ancient burnt-out stars. “
The First Men in the Moon
H.G. Wells. Indianapolis: The Bowen-Merrill Company, 1901.
title page printed in black and red, original pictorial navy blue cloth, front panel stamped in gold and blind, spine panel stamped in gold.. Early owner’s name and date (“Xmas, 1908”) in ink on front free. endpaper, a truly fine copy with brilliant cover stamping in the. original first state pictorial dust jacket (printed in dark blue on. buff paper stock) with “Bowen / Merrill” imprint at base of spine. panel. The dust jacket has shallow chips from crown and tail of spine. panel (no lettering affected), some shelf wear at corner tips, and a. scrape to the surface of the front panel along the lower edge which. affects “ELL” of “WELLS” and extends up slightly into the lower blue. background of the illustration. Still an attractive example of a rare. jacket. Although book and jacket are mixed states, they have not been. married (there is faint ghosting from the flap copy of this jacket on. the fore-edges of the free endpapers); we surmise the book was. distributed with this jacket by the publisher who changed their name. from Bowen-Merrill to Bobbs-Merrill in January 1903, some 15 months. after the book was published in late September or early October 1901. (it was listed Publisher’s Weekly 5 October 1901). The size of the. edition is not known, but the book was apparently not a big success. and unsold sheets of the first printing were later sold to Grosset &. Dunlap. This is the second known copy of this edition in the original. jacket. (#9451). First edition, second state binding with “Bobbs / Merrill” at base of spine panel. Preceded the British edition by approximately one month. The two editions have minor textual differences. “… a gripping adventure story as well as a historic milestone in modern science fiction.” - Survey of Science Fiction Literature II, pp. 782-86. “The last and most complex [of Wells’s early scientific romances] is THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON.
Wells (H.G.) The War of the Worlds
First edition, 16 pp. advertisments at end, dated 1897, occasional spotting, book label of Samuel Gurnery on paste-down and name on free endpaper, original grey cloth, little rubbed, ends of spine knocked, 8vo, 1898.