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30 pp. Small 4to (185 x 130 mm.), attractive antique marbled boards, label on spine. Paris: Lebrun, 1789.
The very rare auction catalogue, with most prices and many buyers’ names written in a contemporary hand, of the Baron Holbach’s little-known but choice art collection. The sale’s expert, Jean Baptiste Pierre Lebrun, provides an exceptionally long and informative biography of Holbach (1723-89), enriched with several amusing anecdotes.
This catalogue describes 93 lots of paintings (by Teniers, Wouwerman, Berchem, Mengs, Le Nain, N. Poussin, S. Bourdon, Oudry, Vernet, etc.), prints, and various curiosities, such as Japanese and Chinese porcelain, shells, and miniature sculptures. The...
12 p.l., 374,  pp., one leaf of errata. 4to, cont. English dark blue morocco (unimportant scuffing to extremities), covers panelled in gilt & blind, spine finely gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine, a.e.g. Amsterdam: J. Claus & others, 1676.
First edition, rare, and a splendid copy bound in contemporary English dark blue morocco, most probably for presentation, of the classic exposition of the Quaker philosophy. The Society of Friends, as Quakers are more formally known, has historically had an outsized influence through the mere force of passive resistance. Their form of Christianity is “widely divergent from the prevalent types, being a....
25,  pp. 8vo, 19th-cent. red sheep-backed marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt. London: Printed for the Author, 1799.
First edition of this scarce book. Rev. Bligh, who has signed and dated (25 August 1798) the final leaf, had the living at Romaldkirk, Yorkshire. This is his account of his lawsuit against his own parishioners regarding the payment of tithes. He gives many details of land and property held by the church and the rules of tithes set out in documents known as glebe terriers. This trial was rather famous in its time.
Title dusty but a nice copy. Stamp of the Lawes Agricultural Trust on front paste-down.
Numerous woodcuts in the text. 35 parts in 16 vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers, new stitching. [China]: Xue ku shan fang, 1890.
Second edition (1st ed.: 1880) of the compiler Gu’s collection of writings by Zewei Bu and Bingzhong Liu (both Tang dynasty, 618-907) on feng shui, divination, geomancy, and Chinese astrology. Both the 1880 edition and our edition are very rare. The texts, which first appeared in the 17th century, have remained very popular, and there is also a 1970 (quite wretched) reprint.
Our edition was edited by Zhimo Xu, who lived in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The texts include Bu’s Xue xin fu, which...
32 pp. 8vo (215 x 140 mm.), two loose quires, leaves uncut. Paris: Le Normant fils, 1827.
First and only edition of a seminal pamphlet by Chateaubriand in which he denounces the censorship measures ratified under Charles X. He calls the idea of “freedom of the press” a mere abstraction in France at that time. This article was sponsored by the Journal des Débats, which actively pressured the government to relax its stringent regulations on the press. Chateaubriand, with several prominent writers, formed the Société des amis de la liberté de la presse in 1827 to promote press freedom.
Chateaubriand dramatically writes on page 4 (in trans.): “Honor and my country call me back to the battlefield. I have reached an age where men need rest; but if I judged from my years, by the ever-growing hate that oppression and baseness inspire in me, I might believe I had grown young again.”
[China: 18th-19th cent.].
A fine example of a woodblock executed in China, with images on both sides, of the Chinese god Guanyin or Guanshiyin, the Buddhist Bodhisattva associated with compassion, and Cong shen, a Chinese mythological figure.
Minor wear to borders on one side, but in fine condition.
Title within woodcut border & woodcut on verso of final leaf. 54,  pp. Small 4to, modern binding reusing an early MS. leaf over boards (verso of final leaf a little soiled). [Basel: J. Froben, 1518].
First separate edition of these two famous texts, “In Praise of Marriage” and “In Praise of Medicine.” The first work created a cause célèbre; written many years earlier in honor of the marriage of his friend Lord Mountjoy, when finally published it was seen by the Louvain and Paris theologians as an implicit condemnation of clerical celibacy.
The second work is Erasmus’s expression of his views of the medical arts. It “presents a view of medical ethics that identifies competence, beneficence and diligence as the physician’s primary moral obligations. The activity of the physician, when directed toward the patient in accordance with these obligations, gives rise to reciprocal obligations on the part of the patient: gratitude and reward. The activity of the patient in accordance with these obligations returns honour and payment to the physician.”–Albury & Weisz, “The Medical Ethics of Erasmus and the Physician-Patient Relationship” (online resource). It is dedicated to the distinguished physician Henricus Afinius, the chief physician of Antwerp.
Wood engraved vignette on title. 19 pp. Small 8vo (185 x 110 mm.), self-bound, uncut. Altdorf: Fr. X. Z’graggen, 1828.
First and only edition of this very rare pamphlet on freedom of the press by Geiger (1755-1843), a Catholic priest and professor of theology in Lucerne. In 1788, he conspired with the Marquis de Vérac to restore Louis XVI to the throne. After being dismissed from his professorship, Geiger became a journalist and wrote numerous polemical pieces on church history, Catholicism, and contemporary political issues, including free speech. He founded the Schweizerische Kirchenzeitung, a Catholic theological periodical, which began publication in 1832 and...
4 p.l., 223,  pp. 8vo, cont. polished mottled calf, spine nicely gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. Bern: “In Verlag der neuen Buchhandlung,” 1772.
First edition of one of Haller’s works, written late in life as he became more and more conservative, defending religion against the ideas of the Enlightenment.
A very fine copy.
1 p.l., x, 169 pp.; 2 p.l., 184 pp. Two vols. in one. Small 8vo, cont. mottled calf (foot of spine a little chipped, lower edge of upper cover a little defective), spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. “Londres” (but probably Amsterdam): 1768.
First edition of one Holbach’s most important assaults on religion, in which he attacked Christianity and other religions as the source of all human evils. Holbach (1723-89), French philosopher, kept a salon in Paris for Helvetius, d’Alembert, Diderot, Condillac, Turgot, Buffon, Grimm, Hume, Garrick, Wilkes, Sterne, Rousseau and other free-thinkers. He was a major contributor to the Encyclopédie...
vi, , 602 pp., one leaf of errata. 4to, fine cont. tree calf (very slightly worn at head), gilt borders on sides, spine gilt in compartments, red morocco lettering piece on spine. London: R. Faulder, 1797.
First edition and a lovely copy. This book was written at a pivotal point in the history of geology, after the publication of Hutton’s Theory of the Earth (1795) but before Playfair’s Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth (1802). It was a time when no theory had been generally accepted and Biblical theories were still widely current. Howard’s substantial book is a review of some...
Stating in an approximate & abbreviated translation: “Regulation. If anyone knows of Christian disciples, already banned, please report to the Government. Rewards are as below: Padre (bateren): 500 pieces of silver coin. Priests (iruman): 300 pieces of silver coin. Christian disciples: 300 pieces of silver coin. Anyone knowingly living with a Christian: 100 pieces of silver coin. If a family member identifies a Christian within his family, the reward is 500 pieces of silver coin. Anyone identified as having hidden a Christian will bear responsibility along with his landlord and his five-person unit (goningumi). May 1711.” With the name at...
12; 27; 16 folding leaves with erratic foliation. Three parts in one vol. Small 8vo (142 x 193 mm.), orig. decorated covers embellished with mica, new stitching. [Japan]: after 1808; after 1817; & after 1818.
A remarkable discovery, the mock-up for an unpublished illustrated work by Kitao (1739-1820), a master of book illustration, with 16 pages of his exquisite drawings. From this manuscript, we learn a great deal about the creative process leading up to the publication of illustrated books in the mid-Edo period. This work’s religious contents also would have been a departure for Kitao, who was celebrated for his bijin-ga and yakusha-e. We have found no other...
N.p. [Japan]: n.d. [but 17th century].
These texts give an account of the life and times of Shingen Takeda (1521-73), and his son Katsuyori Takeda (1546-82), the greatest warriors of a prominent military house active from 1185 to about 1600, a period of considerable chaos in Japan. The Takeda clan had a profound influence on the development of the concept of bushido, the warrior class ethical system, which in turn can be said to permeate much of modern Japanese culture. Our manuscript includes “accounts of the Takeda clan’s rise and fall; their unique military tactics; the army’s constitution;...
Two full-page woodcuts serving as frontispieces & a full-page woodcut on final leaf. 1 p.l., 38, 38, 29 folding leaves. Three parts in one vol. 8vo, orig. blue wrappers, manuscript title label on upper cover, new stitching. [Guangzhou]: Yao Shi, .
A very rare illustrated printing of the translation by Kumarajiva of the Vimalakirti Sutra, one of the fundamental texts of Chinese Buddhism. Kumarajiva (344-413), Buddhist monk, scholar, missionary, and translator, who came from the Silk Road kingdom of Kucha, was famous for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Indian and Vendantic learning. He was the greatest translator of Buddhist scripture from Sanskrit into Chinese, and it...
vi, 218 pp. 8vo, cont. marbled half-sheep & marbled boards (title & final leaf rather foxed), flat spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine, arms in gilt on upper cover of Max, Graf von Preysing-Lichtenegg-Moos (1810-81). Nuremberg: Riegel & Wiessner, 1819.
First edition of this detailed history of the Jesuits in Bavaria. Lang (1764-1835), was a Bavarian government official, the archivist of Munich, and the author of many histories of Bavaria. The Jesuits in Bavaria exerted considerable influence in the region due to their enormous wealth; they were suppressed in 1773.
Apart from the foxing, a fine copy. Bookplate of Philipp Pfister, secretary to King Ludwig
Title within ornate woodcut architectural border. Woodcut printer’s device on title. 26 unnumbered leaves. Small folio, cont. pigskin-backed wooden boards, spine & boards stamped in blind, orig. brass catches on upper cover, one (of two) orig. clasps. Paris: N. de La Barre for E. Le Fevre, 6 October 1515.
—. Arithmetica Speculativa…duodecim libris demonstrata. Title within ornate woodcut architectural border which is printed in red & black. Woodcut printer’s device on title. Several woodcuts in the text. 100 unnumbered leaves. Small folio (some foxing). Paris: N. de La Barre for E. Le Fevre, 18 December 1515.
Fine frontispiece at beginning & “afterpiece” scene at end. Scroll (210 x 9560 mm.), written in ink, color, gold, & silver on indigo-dyed paper. [Japan]: at end (in trans.): “copied on 28th April 1782 by [name impossible to determine as the characters can be read in multiple ways].”
This devotional scroll contains a selection of texts — known as the Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra — taken from the much larger Lotus Sutra, one of the most influential scriptures of the Mahayana Buddhism. It is highly regarded in a number of Asian countries, including China, Korea, and Japan, where it has been traditionally practiced. The Gokito-kyo Lotus...
Large woodcut on title of an astronomer studying an armillary sphere in front of a starry sky by Hans Burgkmair & nine woodcuts in the text. 40 unnumbered leaves. Small 4to, cont. limp vellum, title written in a contemporary hand on upper cover, with the orig. nine-link chain attached to the lower cover with the orig. chain swivel & ring at other end, orig. deerskin ties. Augsburg: V. Otmar, 1548.
A fine copy of the “first German encyclopedia” of general knowledge, here bound in a very remarkable chained binding. Most surviving chained bindings are substantial folios; our example is a smaller format book with...
Woodcut port. of the author on verso of title & several woodcuts in the text. Title within typographical border. 12 p.l. (last leaf a blank), 348,  pp. Small thick 8vo, cont. vellum over boards, stamped in blind on upper cover “M N H L” & “1613.” Wittenberg: W. Meisner at the expense of C. Berger, [date of Foreword “1612“].
MATENESIUS, Johann Friedrich. Critices Christianae Libri Duo de Ritu Bibendi super Sanitate, Pontificum, Caesarum, Principum, Ducum, Magnatum Amicorum, Amicarum, &c.… Woodcut printer’s vignette on title. 8 p.l., 189 pp., one blank leaf. Small 8vo (tear to first leaf of text in blank portion of...
Three text leaves with Chinese characters, final conjugate leaf a full-page woodcut with about 65 Chinese characters, & a large folding engraved plate printing in Chinese characters the Kangxi Emperor’s edict of 1716. 58,  pp. Large 4to, orig. decorative wrappers, uncut. Nuremberg & Altdorf: Monath & Kussler, 1802.
First and only edition of an extremely uncommon book. Murr (1733-1811), a resident of Nuremberg, was a scholar with polymathic interests. He edited several intellectual journals, published on libraries and art museums, etc.
This work is, in large part, concerned with the Chinese Rites Controversy and the famous “Red Decree.” The Jesuit missionaries who came to China in...
Two folding engraved floor plans. xl, 303 pp.; 1 p.l., 304 pp., one leaf of errata. Two vols. 8vo, cont. marbled sheep, spines richly gilt, red & green leather lettering pieces on spines. Nuremberg: Felssecker, 1787-88.
First edition of this valuable history of the suppression of the Jesuits in Portugal, based on original documents. The suppression was overseen by the Marquis of Pombal; Murr gives here a highly detailed chronological account, year-by-year from 1750 through 1761. In Vol. II Murr provides a list of all the foreign missions of the Portuguese Jesuits, including Angola, India, Japan, Cambodia, China, Brazil, etc.
Murr (1733-1811), a resident of Nuremberg, was a scholar with wide interests. He edited several intellectual journals, published on libraries and art museums, etc.
Three parts in two vols. 139; 86 folding leaves. 8vo (235 x 165 mm.), cont. patterned covers (extremities a little worn), new stitching. Edo: ca. 1863.
A fascinating compilation of contemporary reports chronicling the first 11 years of the turbulent Bakumatsu era, 1853-67, the period between Commodore Perry’s first visit to Japan and the establishment of the Meiji government. These two volumes consist of manuscript copies of high-level official documents in the years 1853 to 1863, describing pivotal moments in Japan’s history that fundamentally shaped its relationship to the rest of the world.
Heralding the end of the Edo period and a Tokugawa-controlled government, the Bakumatsu period saw Japan end its policy of strict isolationism. The shogun reluctantly accepted that interactions with the rest of the world were unavoidable; however, sizable factions steadfastly and violently resisted opening Japan to the world. The influx of Americans, British, Russians, French, and Dutch in several port cities instigated numerous crimes against foreigners. In one notable incident in January 1861, a group of samurai assassinated a Dutchman named Henry Heusken, who was serving as secretary and interpreter for the American embassy. That summer, at the British legation in Edo, a band of ronin (masterless samurai) attacked ambassador Rutherford Alcock and several other diplomats, killing two.