Avoiding work: rare books

I’m avoiding working on the music this afternoon by cooking. And while I’m waiting for my Sugar-Crusted Breton Butter Cake to rise, I’m continuing to avoid work by reading the New York Times Book Review.

The first two pages are an ad for Bauman Rare Books, so I thought I’d buy a couple with my lottery winnings.

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, first edition, first issue, in original cloth-gilt. What’s not to like? As Hemingway said, “All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had.” And he’s right. A wonder of story-telling and sly satire often missed by some of our more racially sensitive friends. $17,500.

Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, first edition, “a stunning copy.” If you haven’t looked at an original Potter recently, go pick one up. The writing is charming and her illustrations are inimitable. If you’ve only read it with some other person’s sad little drawings, you need to seek out the real thing. $17,000.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, first edition, in the original dust jacket. Wow. I’ve love to have this one. $16,000.

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Workes of Geoffrey Chaucer, one of fewer than nine known copies of a 1551 edition, illustrated with woodcuts, early 19th century calf binding. Maybe if I owned this I might finally read the whole thing. Yes, I know, but my early lit professor had us read Troilus and Criseyde instead. $55,000.

Charles Dickens, The Christmas Books, first editions of all five. You know why. $28,500.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Cinquieme Sinfonie, first edition of the Fifth. That would be so cool. Then I could pay musicians to play so I could conduct from it. $13,500.

Hm. Maybe Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer, Come Rain or Come Shine, first edition, inscribed by Mercer to Judy Garland. It’s camp, but it’s cheap at $6800.

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, first American edition, $16,000.

Let’s see, that comes to $170,300 all told. Not bad for a couple of minutes shopping. Of course, I know I’d have to read them with white cotton gloves on, and I’d probably have to buy a whole new house with a climate-controlled library, but they’re all nice additions to my collection, I think.

Don’t worry, though, I’ve left plenty for you guys: Einstein‘s The World as I See It, $18.500. E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web, original dust jacket, $2400. F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, first edition, special tipped-in “Author’s Apology,” $16,000. William Bligh, Narrative of the Mutiny, first edition, $22,000. A 1610 Geneva Bible, folio volume in calf binding with brass fittings, $16,500. Robert Frost, Complete Poems, signed, $3600. Marc Chagall, Dessins pour la Bible, first edition, $9800. James Joyce, Ulysses, first edition, one of only 750 copies printed on handmade paper, uncut and unrestored copy in original wrappers, $65,000.

I knew that would get your attention, Marc and Jeff. Don’t start a bidding war. So unseemly.

Here’s their website. Anything else you see that you like?

4 thoughts on “Avoiding work: rare books

  1. Again with the lottery winnings. Since you’re so wealthy, maybe you can pick up a copy of this for me, which is a real steal at only $4,500:

    BORGES, Jorge Luis. Otras Inquisiciones. Buenos Aires: Sur, (1952). Octavo, original red printed paper wrappers. Housed in a custom clamshell box.

    First edition of Borges’ most important collection of essays, presentation copy, signed and inscribed by him on the half title: “A Alberto Salas, con viva amistad. Jorge Luis Borges.”

    Save a piece of cake for me.

  2. Ah, Chaucer….
    Ah, Joyce…
    Ah, Borges…
    Ah, Potter…
    Ah, White, E. B….
    Ah, Chagall…
    Ah, Breton Butter Cake…
    Ah, lottery winnings…
    Ah, Dickens…

    Chanting protective charms…

  3. Apparently my tastes are cheap.

    Signed first edition of Has Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales-$5200

    First Edition of Grapes of Wrath-$7000

    And something I never realized I wanted so badly until I saw it (thank you, Dale) — Signed First Edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas with a drawing in his hand.

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