Rare Book Gallery
A discourse of a method for the...
[DESCARTES, Ren?/ Tr. ANON.]
Bookseller: Martayan Lan, Inc.
London: Thomas Newcombe for John Holden, 1649. Very rare first English edition and fine copy of one of the most important works of Western... More
London: Thomas Newcombe for John Holden, 1649. Very rare first English edition and fine copy of one of the most important works of Western Philosophy ever written, Descartes’ Discourse, containing for the first time in English the phrase which is not only the conceptual cornerstone of Rationalism, generally considered the beginning of modern philosophy, but is synonymous in the cultural imagination with the very field of Philosophy: “I think, therefore, I am.” This English edition was the earliest recorded in the inventory of John Locke’s library (see J. Harrison/ P. Laslett, The Library of John Locke. 2nd ed #2451), and it is generally considered that Locke’s encounter with the ‘New Philosophy’ as it was known in England in the 1660’s, led him to write the Essay, his philosophical masterpiece. “Descartes’ purpose is to find the simple indestructible proposition which gives to the universe and thought their order and system. Three points are made: the truth of thought, when thought is true to itself (thus cogito, ergo sum), the invincible elevation of its partial state in our finite consciousness to its full state of the infinite existence of God, and to the ultimate reduction of the material universe to extension and local movement. From these central propositions in logic, metaphysics and physics came the subsequent inquiries of Locke (164 eg Essay on Human Understanding), Leibniz (177, Th?ic?, and Newton (161 Principia); from them stem all modern and scientific thought.” – PMM 129 (1637). Rather typically for English books of the period, the work is known in issues regarding the title page (and only the title page). These have not been well defined, and the circumstances of the translation’s commissioning and publication are simply unknown: as of 2002, when a series of facsimiles of Descartes’ works in English and related 17th c Cartesian writings was published, the translator of the present work remained unknown (see R. Ariew & D. Garber, Descartes’ Works in Translation, vol. I, p. ix.) According to the entry in the Norman catalogue, several states of the title are known: the title of the Norman copy is ‘A Discourse of a Method for the well guiding of Reason’, and it contains a signature marking, A4—highly exceptional if not unique for a 17th century English book; it does not contain Descartes’ name on the title. This is such an egregious and uncommon error that it is most likely the sign of the earliest state. Another title gives a different spelling ‘for Wel-‘ and Discovrse’; and yet another, like the Norman copy, omits Descartes’ name. OCLC lists 5 copies in American libraries: UCLA, Newberry, Northwestern, Harvard and Wisconsin. Wing adds Folger. In British libraries, Wing lists Oxford, Cambridge (King’s), Patent Office (London), National Library of Scotland. Through additional searching, we have also located two copies at the BL (one with the variant title), and one at Yale (Cushing Medical Library). Remarkably, the book is sufficiently rare that it is not included in the excellent Descartes bibliography of Guillebert; it was NOT included in the Biblioth?e Nationale’s anniversary exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of the publication of the Discours in 1937, and to this day there remains no copy of the present translation in the Biblioth?e Nationale. Finally, it is missing from (at least) two major collections of 17th century English printed books of this level of importance: the Morgan Library and the Huntington. * Wing D1129; Norman 624 (variant imprint); J. Harrison/ P. Laslett, The Library of John Locke. 2nd ed #2451 not in Guillebert; Julien Cain/ Biblioth?e Nationale. Descartes. Exposition organis?pour le III i? Centenaire du Discours de la M?ode. (Paris 1937).. 8vo., 4.5 X 9 cm], (7) ff., of which the first two are blank and integral, 127 pp. (verso blank). Bound in contemporary calf ruled in blind, gilt spine and edges of covers faded and rubbed. Binding a bit shaken, and joints a bit fragile. Minor toning in margin, but a remarkably fresh copy in its original binding, housed in modern bookbox. Less
Price: 90000.00 USD
Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or...
SHARPE, Richard Bowdler (1847-1909)
Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books
London: Taylor & Francis for Henry Sotheran & Co, 1891-98. 2 volumes in 8 original parts, large folio. (22 3/16 x 15 1/16 inches). Smaller... More
London: Taylor & Francis for Henry Sotheran & Co, 1891-98. 2 volumes in 8 original parts, large folio. (22 3/16 x 15 1/16 inches). Smaller format letterpress "Notice to Subscribers" tipped in at front of part VI, smaller format "Completion of the work" notice from the publishers tipped in at front of part VIII. 79 fine hand-coloured lithographic plates by William Mathew Hart, after his own drawings (52) and John Gould (20) or John Gerrard Keulemans (7), 13 uncoloured illustrations. Original pictorial grey paper-covered boards, dark blue cloth spines, the upper cover of each part with the letterpress title beneath a large wood-engraved title vignette, the eight parts contained in two dark green morocco-backed cloth boxes, the spines in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and third compartments, the others with repeat decoration in gilt made up from various small tools. A very fine copy of this, the first monograph devoted to these remarkable birds and the "last of the fine bird books" (Fine Bird Books p.107). This copy, in original parts, with the best colouring of any copy that we have handled in past forty years. The remarkable-looking Birds of Paradise have captivated western science since Magellan first brought back a skin of such a creature in 1522. The skins, highly prized by East Indian natives, was given by the ruler of Batchian (in the Mollucas) as a gift to the King of Spain. The legs and wings of the bird, however, had been removed when skinned, presumably to better show its impressive plumage. When asked why the bird had no wings or feet, the natives replied that none were needed as the bird simply floated in its heavenly paradise. Thus, the earliest descriptions of the species, and indeed even its scientific naming by Linnaeus in the 18th century as Paradisaea apoda (legless bird of paradise), perpetuated that myth. Due to the remote nature of their rain forest habitat in New Guinea, it was not until the mid-19th century that these remarkable birds were first scientifically observed and accurately described. Gould had intended to publish a the first monograph devoted to the birds of paradise following completion of his Birds of New Guinea, but he did not live to do so. When Sharpe took over the task of completing that work, he appealed for subscribers for the proposed monograph. The response was clearly enthusiastic as within three years the first part of the present work was published. Some of the plates had previously appeared in Gould's Birds of New Guinea as "Messrs. Sotheran purchased the stock of Gould's works after his death [and] acquired the stones with which he had intended to illustrate his Monograph... Many of them were broken or otherwise damaged, and of these some have been redrawn or replaced by new plates by Mr. Hart. Since Gould's time, however, many marvelous new species have been discovered, and these have been described and figured in the present work" (Appendix). As the small format slip in part six makes clear, the timing of the publication of the work could not have been better, as so many beautiful new species were discovered whilst the work was in preparation that Sharpe felt justified in extending the size of the work from six to eight parts. Copies of this work were issued at a later date with inferior hand-colouring. The quality of the colouring of the plates in the present copy is outstanding, and it is only with examples of this work in the original parts that the colouring can be guaranteed to be contemporary with the original publication dates. Copies such as the present example are very rare: only three are listed as having sold at auction in the past thirty years. Fine Bird Books (1990) p.107; Nissen IVB 581; Ripley 263; Wood, p.565; Zimmer, p.581. Less
Price: 95000.00 USD
THE FEDERALIST: A COLLECTION OF...
Hamilton, Alexander; James Madison; and John Jay:
Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana
New York: Printed and sold by John and Andrew M'Lean, 1788.. Two volumes bound in one. vi,227; vi,384pp. 12mo. Contemporary sheep, spine with plain... More
New York: Printed and sold by John and Andrew M'Lean, 1788.. Two volumes bound in one. vi,227; vi,384pp. 12mo. Contemporary sheep, spine with plain gilt rules. Expertly rebacked, with original spine laid down, boards somewhat rubbed. Light foxing and toning. Pencil notes on free endpapers. Small tear in pp.49/50 with no loss. Overall very good, with the bookplate of F. Olcott. In a half morocco and cloth clamshell box with chemise. The rare first edition of the most important work of American political thought ever written and, according to Thomas Jefferson, "the best commentary on the principles of government." The first edition of THE FEDERALIST comprises the first collected printing of the eighty-five seminal essays written in defense of the newly-drafted Constitution. The essays were first issued individually by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in New York newspapers under the pseudonym Publius to garner support for the ratification of the Constitution. The first thirty-six numbers of THE FEDERALIST were here published in book form in March 1788, with the remaining forty- nine, together with the text of the Constitution, in May of that year. Upon its publication, George Washington noted to Alexander Hamilton that the work "will merit the Notice of Posterity; because in it are candidly and ably discussed the principles of freedom and the topics of government, which will always be interesting to mankind" (George Washington, letter to Hamilton, August 28, 1788). The genesis of this "classic exposition of the principles of republican government" (Bernstein) is to be found in the "great national discussion" which took place about the ratification of the Constitution, and the necessity of answering the salvos in print from the Anti- Federalists and other opponents of a strong federal government. The original plan was that James Madison and John Jay were to help Hamilton write a series of essays explaining the merits of their system, whilst also rebutting the arguments of its detractors. "Hamilton wrote the first piece in October 1787 on a sloop returning from Albany...He finished many pieces while the printer waited in a hall for the completed copy" - Brookhiser. In the end, well over half of the eighty- five essays were written by Hamilton alone. Despite the intense time pressures under which the series was written "what began as a propaganda tract, aimed only at winning the election for delegates to New York's state ratifying convention, evolved into the classic commentary upon the American Federal system" - McDonald. THE FEDERALIST is without question the most important commentary on the Constitution, the most significant American contribution to political theory and among the most important of all American books. EVANS 21127. GROLIER AMERICAN 100, 19. STREETER SALE 1049. CHURCH 1230. HOWES H114, "c." COHEN 2818. SABIN 23979. FORD 17. PRINTING AND THE MIND OF MAN 234. R.B. Bernstein, ARE WE TO BE A NATION? THE MAKING OF THE CONSTITUTION (1987), p.242. R. Brookhiser, ALEXANDER HAMILTON: AMERICAN (1999), pp.68- 69. F. McDonald, ALEXANDER HAMILTON: A BIOGRAPHY, p.107. Less
Price: 185000.00 USD