last 7 days
last 30 days
older than 30 days

Honey & Wax Booksellers

Ballads

Ballads, by William Hayley, Esq., Founded on Anecdotes Relating to Animals, with Prints, Designed and Engraved by William Blake

Blake, William (illustrator); Hayley, William First edition of this collection of fifteen ballads for young readers by English poet William Hayley (1745-1820), each devoted to a different animal, offering adventure, pathos, and predictable moral lessons: "Ye, whom a friend's dark perils pain, / When terrors most unnerve him, / Learn from this Elephant to strain / Your sinews to preserve him." The enduring interest of the book lies in the remarkable copper engravings contributed by William Blake, a partner in the venture, "which Hayley seems to have invented as a make-work project for Blake" (Morgan Library). In 1802, Blake produced engravings to accompany a proposed quarto edition of Hayley's ballads to be issued in fifteen parts; only four parts appeared, for lack of sales. For this 1805 octavo edition, Blake re-engraved three of his earlier plates ("The Dog," "The Eagle," and "The Lion") in a smaller format, and produced two new designs: "The Horse" and "The Hermit's Dog." The immediately recognizable, dreamlike quality of Blake's vision elevates (and effectively disrupts) an otherwise conventional volume of verse. A near-fine copy, handsomely bound by Riviere. Octavo, measuring 6 x 4.25 inches: [4], 212, [2]. Late nineteenth-century full blue crushed morocco gilt, boards triple-ruled in gilt, raised bands, spine compartments richly decorated in gilt, all edges gilt, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers. Five plates designed and engraved by William Blake, including frontispiece; index at rear. Bound without half-title, several signatures uniformly toned.
Slaves of Christo

Slaves of Christo

Hall, Julia; Leggio, Chrissy; Spagnoulo, Peter (afterword) Limited edition chapbook by two Philadelphia art students who assisted on Christo and Jean-Claude's 2005 Central Park installation, The Gates, "earning $6.25 an hour at the very bottom of the art world food chain." Hall and Leggio offer a day-by-day account of the installation process, marked by boredom, laziness, mild drug use (medicinal and recreational), extreme cold, and aesthetic disaffection. In his afterword, Peter Spagnuolo describes The Gates as a con -- "a perverse impulse to enforce upon the park's seeming freedom from the grid a network of some 7,532 steel portal-forms, each draped with obscuring fabric flaps" - and applauds "the gimlet-eyed observations" of the authors. Slaves of Christo was published in a run of 500 copies: the first 125 feature a sample of the genuine Gates fabric affixed to the upper wrapper, while the remaining 375 (including this copy, 468/500) feature a "stand-in orange felt square" which conceals a portrait of the authors dancing. Sardonic commentary on one of the most recognizable public art installations of the twenty-first century, in near-fine condition. Side-stapled volume, measuring 7.25 x 4.5 inches: [3], 29, [4]. Original tan card wrappers printed letterpress in orange, black, and blue; orange felt square affixed to upper wrapper with brass fasteners; laser-printed text block with color illustrations on first and last pages. Three small staple holes and two indentations to lower wrapper.
Invitation to private reception following Whitman's lecture

Invitation to private reception following Whitman’s lecture, “The Death of Abraham Lincoln”

Whitman, Walt; [Lincoln, Abraham] Invitation to Walt Whitman's private reception after his celebrated lecture, "The Death of Abraham Lincoln," at Madison Square Theatre on April 14, 1887. Whitman had given public readings of his Lincoln lecture, variously edited, since 1879; one version was published in Specimen Days in 1882-1883. Scheduled on the twenty-second anniversary of Lincoln's assassination, the 1887 event was staged as a benefit for the ailing Whitman, who remained seated throughout his sold-out tribute to the Union's "Martyr Chief": "there is a cement to the whole people, subtler, more underlying, than any thing in written constitution, or courts or armies - namely, the cement of a death identified thoroughly with that people, at its head, and for its sake." As William Pannapacker notes, Whitman's passionate public identification with Lincoln was central to his emergence as "The Good Gray Poet," a national treasure: "Whitman's experiments in self-creation finally succeeded with a major segment of the public when he enclosed his persona within the halo encircling the martyred President" (Revised Lives, 22). The New York audience for Whitman's performance included Mark Twain, John Hay, Augustus St. Gaudens, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton; Andrew Carnegie could not make it, but purchased a box for $350. At the end of his performance, Whitman was surprised by a gift of lilacs from poet E.C. Stedman's young granddaughter, a reference to his great elegy for Lincoln, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." In New York City for a single night, Whitman hosted a reception in his rooms at the Westminster Hotel after the lecture; this invitation was printed for the occasion. The evening was an important one for New York literary society, a celebration "at least as spectacular as the event itself," according to the New York Sun. Looking "like a painting of Jove," Whitman entertained a constant stream of admirers, relieved only by the performance of the Afro-Cuban violinist Claudio Brindis de Salas Garrido, "El Paganini Negro," who serenaded Whitman on a seventeenth-century Ruggeri violin: "Walt was mightily pleased with the music." A surprising survival, a near-fine artifact of the nineteenth-century American literary scene. Ivory card, measuring 2.75 x 3.75 inches, printed recto only: "Walt Whitman / At Home -- Thursday Evening / April 14th 1887 / Westminster Hotel, Irving Place and 16th St., New York." Penciled bookseller note to verso: "April 14, 1887 for his most famous lecture (Lincoln) / WW in NY for only one (1) night." Card lightly toned; half-inch closed tear to head, expertly repaired. Housed in envelope fragment with penciled inventory number, bookseller note, and collector's note: "Whitman card / gift from Capt. Cohn -- / House of Books / Aug 7 1950.".
Továrna Na Absolutno [The Absolute at Large]

Továrna Na Absolutno [The Absolute at Large]

Capek, Karel; Capek, Josef (illustrator) First edition of this biting science-fiction satire by a major Czech modernist, inscribed by Capek in the year of publication to an actress at the national theatre. Capek's plot is set in motion by an invention. A new carburetor uses nuclear fission to create clean, cheap energy, but also releases a byproduct of "Absolute," a "God particle" that produces an intense spiritual experience: "It must be some kind of poisoning." Mixing the philosophy of Leibniz and Spinoza with commentary on modern technology and capitalism, Capek explores the unexpected pairing of limitless energy and unrestrained inspiration with black humor: "There have been some serious cases of enlightenment." The climax of the book reflects the cynicism produced by World War I, as an absurd Great War breaks out between competing religious groups: "you should not listen to those people when they proudly say that they lived through was the greatest war of all time. We all know, of course, that in a few decades' time we will manage to create a war which is even greater." The novel is illustrated by Karel Capek's brother Josef, an important modernist illustrator and book designer. The two brothers were central members of the Czech avant-garde between the wars: their intellectual circle promoted the modern renaissance of written Czech, publishing works like Továrna Na Absolutno in the vernacular rather than German. Josef Capek would die in a concentration camp in 1945, victim of an "even greater" war. Capek inscribed this copy in Czech to the actress Tana Cuprova, later art manager of the national theatre in Prague where R.U.R., Capek's most famous play, introduced the word "robot" to the world. Text in Czech. A wonderful inscribed copy of an important early science-fiction novel. Octavo, measuring 7.75 x 5.5 inches: 219, [5]. Original tan pictorial wrappers with blue and orange design by the author's brother Josef, spine and lower wrapper lettered in blue, text block uncut, many individual signatures unsewn and laid in (as issued). Title page printed in blue and black, twenty full-page black-and-white illustrations (included in collation). Manuscript prices in blue and grey pencil to verso of upper wrapper. Ink inscription by Capek in year of publication to front fly leaf. Small chip to head of spine, closed tear at top joint of front wrapper.
The Tragic Mary

The Tragic Mary

Field, Michael; [Bradley, Katherine]; [Cooper, Edith]; Image, Selwyn (designer); [Stuart, Mary, Queen of Scots] First edition of this Victorian verse drama about Mary, Queen of Scots, co-written by the lesbian couple Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper, who published under the penname Michael Field for four decades. Their pseudonymous authorship was a loosely held secret among literary friends like Robert Browning and Oscar Wilde. The ambiguous figure of Mary Stuart fascinated the Victorians, as evidenced in Walter Pater's "Essay on Rossetti," which inspired the title of the play: "Old Scotch history, perhaps beyond any other, is strong in the matter of heroic and vehement hatreds and love, the tragic Mary herself being but the perfect blossom of them." The Tragic Mary dramatizes the tumultuous years of 1566 and 1567, when Mary's first husband Lord Darnley was murdered and his alleged killer, the Earl of Bothwell, abducted and married her. Field explores the tension between the queen's vulnerability and authority, as when Mary asks her abusive captor: "Have you thought what utter hatred would be like in me? . . . Have you beheld the vision? Very soon it will be actual, and face to face." Focused on the world of the queen and her woman servants, the play is of particular note for its undertones of same-sex desire; the scholar Jayne Lewis calls it "a fable of lesbian longing" (Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation.) The Tragic Mary features a celebrated design by Selwyn Image, one of the founders of the Century Guild of Artists, now seen as a key forerunner of the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau. A nearly fine, unopened copy. Octavo, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: x, 261, [3]. Original brown pictorial paper boards with floral design by Selwyn Image, spine lettered in black, text block uncut and unopened. Without scarce glassine wrapper. Shallow bump to tail of spine, light offsetting to endpapers.
The Book of American Negro Spirituals

The Book of American Negro Spirituals

Johnson, James Weldon (editor); Johnson, J. Rosamond (arranger); Brown, Lawrence (arranger); [Lardner, Ring] First edition of this Harlem Renaissance anthology of more than sixty African-American spirituals, a collaboration by the talented Johnson brothers, inscribed by James Weldon Johnson to Ring Lardner. In his introduction, James Weldon Johnson observes that the spirituals, created under slavery and kept alive by generations of unrecorded singers, are "America's only folk music and, up to this time, the finest distinctive artistic contribution she has to offer the world." The songs collected here include "Go Down Moses," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," "Deep River," "Roll Jordan, Roll," "Steal Away to Jesus," and "Nobody Knows de Trouble I See." Most of the musical arrangements are by composer J. Rosamond Johnson, best remembered for writing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," still considered the African-American national anthem. This copy is warmly inscribed by James Weldon Johnson to another master of American dialect, the popular writer Ring Lardner, who once scandalized his Great Neck neighbors by hosting a party for J. Rosamond Johnson, the hit composer from Harlem. A near-fine copy, with an excellent literary association. Single volume, measuring 10 x 7 inches: [1-10] 11-187. Original light brown cloth decoratively stamped in brown and blue. Historical preface followed by 137 pages of musical arrangements. Ink presentation inscription on front free endpaper: "For Ring W. Lardner / with sincere regards / James Weldon Johnson." Light edgewear, foxing to endpapers, no dust jacket.
Commemorative card depicting Rochester's monument to Frederick Douglass

Commemorative card depicting Rochester’s monument to Frederick Douglass

Douglass, Frederick] Original printed souvenir commemorating the 1899 unveiling of the monument to Frederick Douglass in Rochester, New York: "the first public monument to an African American in the country" (O'Keefe). When Rochester's Soldiers and Sailors Monument was erected in 1892, Douglass observed that African-American soldiers were omitted from the design. A local community leader, John W. Thompson, began fundraising for a monument to Rochester's black soldiers, a project reimagined as a monument to Douglass after his burial in Rochester in 1895. Partly funded by the Haitian government, the statue by sculptor Sidney W. Edwards was dedicated in June of 1899, with Douglass's widow and Theodore Roosevelt, then governor of New York, in attendance. Rochester was a fitting location for the Douglass landmark: the city was a critical stop on the Underground Railroad, and the home of Douglass's anti-slavery newspaper The North Star. This commemorative card depicts an early design for the statue above a quote by Douglass: "Men do not live by bread alone; so with nations, they are not saved by art, but by honesty; not by gilded splendors of wealth, but by the hidden treasure of manly virtue; not by the multitudinous gratifications of the flesh, but by the celestial guidance of the spirit." The image captures Douglass as the great orator, with one hand extended and the other holding a text to his chest: a stance that differs slightly from the final monument, in which Douglass has both hands extended. The likeness was based partly on photographs of Douglass and partly on his son, Charles Remond Douglass, the first African American to enlist in New York during the Civil War. The Rochester monument was considered important enough that W.E.B. DuBois recreated it, on a smaller scale, for his groundbreaking "Exhibit of American Negroes" at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris. See Rose O'Keefe, Frederick and Anna Douglass in Rochester, New York. OCLC locates one institutional holding, at the University of Arizona. A fine survival. Single sheet, measuring 9.25 x 4 inches. Halftone image of the monument in Douglass Park above a printed quote by Douglass on recto; halftone portrait and text on verso. Edges lightly toned.
The Grand Instructions to the Commissioners Appointed to Frame a New Code of Laws for the Russian Empire: Composed by Her Imperial Majesty Catherine II. Empress of all the Russias

The Grand Instructions to the Commissioners Appointed to Frame a New Code of Laws for the Russian Empire: Composed by Her Imperial Majesty Catherine II. Empress of all the Russias

Catherine the Great; Tatischeff, Michael (translator) First English translation of Catherine the Great's Nakaz, her instructions to the commission she convened in 1767 to reform the Russian legal system. A student of the philosophes, Catherine was inspired by the principles of Montesquieu, Diderot, and Rousseau, as well as the writings of the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria. She was eager to promote herself as a voice of enlightened reason, and Russia as a modern European nation. Although she considered the absolute power of the tsar the only practical means of governing such a vast empire, her Nakaz represented a striking break with Russia's feudal past: "the Equality of the Citizens consists in this; that they should all be subject to the same Laws." Catherine called for a transparent, universally applied legal code: "The Laws ought to be written in the common vernacular Tongue; and the Code, which contains all the Laws, ought to be esteemed as a Book of the utmost Use, which should be purchased at as small a Price as the Catechism." She argued that "it is better to prevent Crimes, than to punish them," condemning the use of torture and the death penalty. The hundreds of commissioners Catherine appointed, representing a range of regional and class interests, fell into partisan squabbling soon enough, and the 1768 war with the Turks provided an excuse to suspend the reform project. But the Nakaz, widely translated and debated across Europe, and banned by Louis XV in France, placed Russia in a new light internationally. Predating the American and French revolutions, Catherine's early attempt to articulate a modern legal system "established an ideal and a measure for future legal reform in Russia," and remains a compelling document of the Enlightenment (Wortman, 59). Voltaire described the Nakaz as "the finest monument of the age." A wide-margined, near-fine example of a scarce book, in a contemporary binding. Quarto, measuring 11 x 8.25 inches: xxiii, [1] 3-258. Contemporary three-quarter calf, raised bands ruled in gilt, traces of gilt decoration to spine compartments, marbled paper boards, no spine label, text block uncut. Woodcut initials and headpieces throughout text. Private library label ("Case D / Shelf 6") and cropped armorial bookplate to front pastedown, early owner signature to title page. Boards rubbed; expert reinforcement to joints and corners; light occasional foxing, heavier to first and last pages.