Intercontinental Musings – highlights from our Catalogue of Continental Works

Here are some of the highlights from our upcoming catalogue of continental works, which showcases the way that the medium of printing has facilitated the exchange of ideas across cultures – irrespective of the language in which those ideas were first expressed.

CATHERINE II, Empress of Russia; PALLAS, Peter Simon.

Manuscript for Сравнительный словарь всех языков и наречий [Comparative Dictionary of All the Languages and Dialects]. 1784.

 

 

MANUSCRIPT NOTES IN CATHERINE THE GREAT’S OWN HAND, A PREPARATORY STUDY FOR THE BIGGEST LINGUISTIC PROJECT OF THE CENTURY.

Catherine II (1762–96), who was originally Prussian, took an interest in philology in her early years in Russia while studying the language. She was captivated by Court-de-Gébelin’s bold idea that the languages of the world had originated from one source – one primitive language.

This in turn prompted her to look for similarities between Russian and other languages. She began her research by putting together a list of Russian words, mostly nouns, defining simple concepts for which one could find an equivalent in most languages, however basic they were. These 200 – 300 words were then to be translated into all known languages, first of the Russian Empire and later of the world. The scale of this project meant that it would have been impossible for anyone who did not possess Catherine’s boundless power and connections. Realising the vast scale of the task, the Empress soon recruited her trusted friend, the academician and leading scientist Peter Simon Pallas (1741 – 1811), to continue her work and edit it for publication.

Thus the present manuscript, together with many other drafts and notes, passed into Pallas’ hands around April 1785.

Price: £17,500                          [ref: 90194]

 

VERBIEST, Ferdinand.

Typus eclipsis lunae, Anno Christi 1671, Imperatoris Cam Hy decimo, die XVto Lunae iiae, id est, die XXVto Martij, ad Meridianum Pekinensem. 1671.

A WORK OF GREAT RARITY BY THE JESUIT MISSIONARY VERBIEST DEALING WITH LUNAR ECLIPSES.

Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-88) was a Flemish-born Jesuit missionary, mathematician and astronomer, responsible for charting lunar eclipses for each of the Chinese provinces – data that the emperor required six months in advance. This scroll shows the phases of the lunar eclipse of March 25, 1671 in seventeen drawings, one for each province. The legend is in Chinese and Manchu.

Price: £65,000                          [ref: 84702]

 

EINSTEIN, Albert; FREUD, Sigmund.

Warum Krieg? [Why War?]. 1933.

An exchange on the root causes of war by two of the greatest Jewish thinkers of the XX century.

TRUE FIRST EDITION, LIMITED TO 2000 COPIES (COPY NO. 1213).

In 1932 Albert Einstein, invited by the League of Nations to address a letter on any subject to any individual, chose to correspond with Sigmund Freud on the possibilities of avoiding war. Einstein maintained the importance of establishing an independent judiciary body to mediate conflicts. Freud agreed with this idea but also insisted that, ‘there is no likelihood of our being able to suppress humanity’s aggressive tendencies,’ and that war is the ultimate expression of man’s distaste for the restraints of civilisation.

Price: £2,500                [ref: 88482]

 

STRADA, Jacobus.

Imperatorvm romanorvm omnivm orientalivm et occidentalivm verissimae imagines ex antiqvis nvmismatis qvam fidelissime delineatae. 1559.

ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE BOOKS OF THE RENAISSANCE.

This celebrated work contains 118 woodcut medallion portraits of the Roman and Roman-German emperors from Julius Caesar to Charles V. The woodcut borders surrounding the portraits are the largest ever cut for a book from a single block. The reverse of each portrait features the biography of the emperor depicted, within a woodcut border of putti, fruit, grotesques and arabesque ornaments. The first German edition of this book was published in 1558 by Gessner.

Jacobus Strada (1507-88) was an Italian polymath who served as the official artist and architect to three Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors. He also worked as a goldsmith, numismatist, writer, merchant and collector; his collection of medals minted with the portraits of emperors was used in the production of the present work.

Price: £25,000                          [ref: 89615]

 

[WEGENER, Gerda] (illustrator); de Verineau, Alexandre [pseud. for Louis Perceau].

Douze sonnets lascifs pour accompagner la suite d’aquarelles intitulée ‘Les Délassements d’Eros’. 1925.

EXCELLENT COPY, ILLUSTRATED BY THE WIFE OF ‘THE DANISH GIRL.’

Louis Perceau (1883 – 1942) was a French polygraph writer who published under numerous pseudonyms, including Alexandre de Verineau. Living in Paris from 1901, he was a socialist activist, writing for socialist newspapers such as La Guerre Sociale and La Vie Socialiste; in 1906, he even spent six months in jail because of his militancy. Perceau was very active in the rebuilding of the French Socialist Party in 1920. His writing interests also included satirical poetry, erotica and bibliographies.

Gerda Wegener (1886 – 1940) was a Danish illustrator and painter best known for her erotic works. After moving to Paris in 1912, she became highly successful both as a painter and as illustrator for Vogue, La Vie Parisienne and Fantasio. Her work comes with a sensational backstory: Gerda’s husband Einar, also a successful artist, posed as a model for many of her works dressed in women’s clothing, and later underwent the world’s first sex-change operation. The actress Alicia Vikander even won an Oscar for her portrait of Gerda in a recent film adaptation of this story, Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl.

Theses verses were written by Verineau to accompany the twelve watercolours, published anonymously by Wegener a few years earlier.

 Price: £2,500                [ref: 89674]

 

 

SCIENCE MEETS ART IN THE MOST STRIKING MANNER

GAUTIER d’AGOTY, Jacques-Fabien.

Sammelband of Three Works: Myologie complette; Anatomie de la tête, en tableaux imprimés; Anatomie generale des visceres. 1746; 1748; 1752.

AN IMPRESSIVE VOLUME GATHER GAUTIER D’AGOTY’S MOST IMPORTANT EARLY WORKS – VERY RARELY FOUND TOGETHER, WITH FULL MARGINS AND IN VERY DESIRABLE UNFOLDED CONDITION WITH ALL PLATES SUPERBLY VARNISHED.

The first life-size anatomical illustrations in colour, beautifully rendered thanks to a labour-intensive printing process.

Gautier’s first project was the production of eight prints of the face, neck, head, tongue and larynx, which he issued in 1745, followed one year later by a second group of twelve mostly larger prints showing muscles of the pharynx, torso, arms and legs. A year later he issued the two works together under the general title Myologie complette. The images were from cadavers dissected by Joseph Guichard Duverney, lecturer in anatomy at the Jardin du Roi, and they include especially the celebrated ‘Flayed Angel,’ sometimes called ‘The Angel of the Surrealists.’ Duverney saw in Gautier’s work a ‘convulsive beauty.’ As Jacques Prévert puts it: ‘A pretty woman with naked or rather flayed shoulders, the skin pinned back on each side. Horror and visceral splendour’ (quoted by the Musées nationaux).

Gautier’s work on the anatomy of the head includes several finely detailed images from dissections made by Pierre Tarin, another collaborator for a brief period. The king’s surgeon, Mertrud, provided dissections for the first three plates of the Anatomie Générale but after this Gautier d’Agoty himself took over the dissections, and apparently wrote all the descriptions in addition to preparing the plates. These were designed in such a way that four spectacular human figures could be formed by combing three plates together.

 Price: £95,000                          [ref: 94255]

 

[NIKOLAI II]

Манифест об учреждении Государственной Думы. [On the Establishment of the State Duma]. 1905.

A FINE EXAMPLE OF THE DOCUMENT ESTABLISHING THE FIRST STATE DUMA, FROM THE LIBRARY OF GRAND DUKE MIKHAIL MIKHAILOVICH.

The events of Bloody Sunday (9 January 1905), when Cossacks stationed outside the Tsar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg panicked and fired on peaceful demonstrators, led to what is now referred to as the First Russian Revolution. Under pressure from foreign governments and his own rioting people, Nicholas II was forced to compromise his autocratic principles and, in theory at least, institute a democratically-elected state parliament, or Duma. He did so by issuing the present manifesto, which is based on a draft compiled by his Minister of Domestic Affairs, Aleksandr Bulygin. However, the manifesto makes it clear that the Duma was conceived solely as an advisory body to the State Council and the Tsar. Subsequently, the elections were boycotted and in the wake of continuing strikes Nicholas had to make further concessions and issue the more famous October Manifesto, recognising the Duma as a legislative organ.

Price: £3,500                [ref: 87651]

 

 

ZOHRABIAN, Hovhannes.

[ARMENIAN BIBLE]. 1805.

A COMPLETE EXAMPLE OF THE FIRST CRITICAL EDITION OF THE BIBLE IN ARMENIAN.

Although an Armenian language Bible was printed in Amsterdam in 1666, the ‘Zohrab Bible’ was the first critical edition of the Armenian scriptures. It was edited by the Benedictine monk Giovanni Zohrab (Hovhannes Zohrapean, 1756-1829) at the Armenian monastery on the island of San Lazzaro near Venice.

A reprint of the Zohrab edition was issued only in 1984, with a new introduction by Claude Cox (Delmar, N.Y.: Caravan Books). Cox, a professor of Biblical Studies, notes: ‘The principal edition of the Armenian Bible is that of Zohrapian, published in 1805 […] His [Zohrab’s] edition stands head and shoulders above many editions of texts in his day because he does not tamper with the text: it is a faithful copy of his base manuscript.’ (Textual History of the Bible).

Rare, especially complete and in contemporary bindings, as here.

Price: £4,250                [ref: 93907]

 

LUTHER, Martin.

Disputatio excellentium. 1519.

AN IMPORTANT AND EXTREMELY RARE ORIGINAL EDITION OF A DEBATE BETWEEN THE LEADERS OF CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT THOUGHT.

The present work bears witness to a theological study that took place in 1519 between the Catholic theologian Jean Eck and two of the leaders of the Protestant reform movement, Martin Luther and Andreas Karlstadt. Among the topics discussed were the Pope’s power, the authority of the Church in matters of doctrine, the free will of Man in the face of Divine Grace, and the indulgences of supposedly supreme religious authorities. This debate provoked an enormous rupture between the so-called Lutherans and Rome, with consequences that divided Europe for centuries to come.

Price: £11,500                          [ref: 94993]

 

REITZENSTEIN, Wolf Ehrenfried von.

Der Vollkommene Pferde-Kenners. [The Complete Horse-Guide]. 1764.

A GERMAN HORSE MANUAL WITH A JEWISH-JARGON DICTIONARY SUPPLEMENT.

‘Rare first edition of this original and curious work on horsemanship.’ (Johan Dejager, Great Books on Horsemanship)

The first part of this book is a comprehensive equestrian and veterinary manual. The second deals with horse medicine and understanding prescriptions. The final part of the work is the most unusual: it is a supplement comprising a 36-page Hebrew/Yiddish dictionary with an alphabetic index of over 1,500 terms, transliterated into Gothic letters and with German translations. This is followed by five sample dialogues between Jewish horsetraders in their distinct jargon.

Since their normal vernacular of Yiddish could be understood by their German speaking non-Jewish competitors, the Jewish dealers developed a secret trade dialect heavily laced with Hebrew, which prevented non-Jews from understanding them. The efforts of non-Jewish horsemen to try and penetrate this newly-erected linguistic barrier are demonstrated by a close examination of the present volume.

The end of this volume is lavished with detailed illustrated plates. The first plate depicts the ideal horse, with detailed anatomy of its open mouth; the next plates show horse breeds and are followed by illustrations of dressage and various pieces of equipment. The frontispiece, by A. Hoffer after A.D. Steingruber, depicts the Residenzschloss at Ansbach.

 Price: £8,500                [ref: 95270]

Post Series: Browsing the Stock

Alex Watsham

Alex is a specialist in Russian culture and has just graduated from the University of Cambridge. During her time there she developed a particular interest in Ukrainian literature and documentary theatre, and spent a year working in Russia as part of her degree.