Top 5 Rare Holiday Books

December 19th, 2014

1. The Christmas Books by Charles Dickens

First Edition set of Dickens' Christmas Books

First Edition set of Dickens’ Christmas Books

The only reason to shout “Bah! Humbug!” at this collection is when you’re trying to decide which book to read first! The entire first edition set of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Books include A Christmas Carol (first issue), The Chimes, The Battle of Life, Cricket on the Hearth, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain. Generally considered the “Bible of Christmas,” A Christmas Carol tells the heartwarming story of bitter, penny-pinching Scrooge as he travels through time with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, renewing his faith in the spirit of the holiday along the way. These famous novellas by Dickens make for a fantastic celebration of both the English language and the holiday season.

2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

First Edition of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss

First Edition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss

Another non-believer redeemed in the end, the Grinch is easily the best Christmas villain since Scrooge. Surprisingly, Theodore Seuss Geisel revealed that he wrote the book because he identified with its main character:

I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December [said Seuss] when I noted a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! So I wrote a story about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost.

Who would have thought that the lively Dr. Seuss could be considered a Grinch? But we suppose all authors relate to their characters somehow. Choose a holiday book the whole family will treasure with the very rare first edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

First Edition of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Charles Shulz

First Edition of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles Shulz

The best holiday books are those that we grew up reading, such is A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz. Similar to the anti-Christmas villains in the previously mentioned books, the story starts out with Charlie Brown in a not-so-joyful mood. Of course, we all relate to the holiday blues that Charlie feels in lieu of the over-commercialization of Christmas, and find our hearts warmed as the young boy’s friends come together to revive his little tree in the end. Signed by Charles Schulz, this very special first edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas is easily a top 5 pick for rare holiday books.

4. Poems by Clement C. Moore 

First Edition of "Poems" by Clement C. Moore

First Edition of “Poems” by Clement C. Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house

            Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

In the beautifully bound first edition of Poems by Clement C. Moore lies the famous holiday poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This rare book was the first appearance of Moore’s poem, which was originally titled, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” The author originally wrote the poem in 1822 for his children, after a snowy winter’s day during which he went sleigh shopping. Moore did not claim authorship of the poem for over 20 years, and instead published it anonymously. Moore’s reason for this was that he was a professor and intellectual, and did not want the unscholarly poem attached to his name. Today, the famous poem is what Clement C. Moore is most remembered by, and it serves as a holiday classic for children and poetry lovers across the world.

5. A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

First Edition of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas

First Edition of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas

One of the most popular works of acclaimed poet, Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales evokes all of the emotional nostalgia many of us feel about experiencing Christmas as a child. The prose was originally written for BBC radio and recorded by Thomas in the early 1950s. Within the verses, Thomas describes a simpler time when the snow of the holidays seemed much brighter and more exciting. The story has since been adapted into theatrical, film, and animated versions. Inspiring laughter and idyllic memories of Christmas by all who know it, the first edition of book is a wonderful fit for our list of top 5 rare holiday books.

“The Republic of Plato” In Ten Books.

December 7th, 2014

plato-raptis-rare-booksWritten in 380 BC, The Republic is considered one of the Plato’s best works and a major staple for Western philosophical and political thought. The work was alternatively titled On Justice by ancient readers, as the main theme aims to find the perfect definition of justice in regards to both the individual and the city-state.

“That Plato should be the first of all the ancient philosophers to be translated and broadcast by the printing press was inevitable. Plato’s central conception of a universe of ideas, Perfect Types, of which material objects are imperfect forms, and his ethical code based on action according to human nature, developed by education, which represents the authority of the State, fitted in as well with the philosophical, religious and political thought of western Europe in the 15th century, striving to free itself from the shackles of scholasticism, as it did with those of the Byzantine Greeks, by whom Plato was repopularized in the western world…” (Lowndes, 1878).

Man has been quarreling with the notion of justice since the beginning of society. Within the ten books of The Republic, Socrates repositions his understanding of justice based on various human virtues and systematic powers he encounters, including freedom, government, family, class, money, power, wisdom, courage, friendship, and the soul. As Socrates finds the various ways by which man is corrupted by power, he discerns that the just city-state is one ruled not by the rich, but by philosophers. As PMM analyzes Socrates’ discoveries, it is an undisputable fact that “the dialogues are pervaded by two dominant impulses: a love of truth and a passion for human improvement.”

In addition to Socrates’ journey for justice, The Republic contains a number of metaphors highly respected amongst philosophy and literature critics, such as the famous allegory of the cave. In this allegory, Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave their entire lives. The only reality these people know is their view of a blank cave wall, which will occasionally project elongated shadows of people walking past, sometimes carrying objects. Once a prisoner is released from the cave, he sees real people for the first time and comes to understand that the shadows were never a reality. The freed prisoner can never un-see the true world again, making a powerful statement on the human condition, as man’s reality is so greatly dependent on individual experience through sensation and perception.

Plato's The Republic of Plato, Rare Book

Plato’s The Republic of Plato. In Ten Books. Translated from the Greek by H. Spens. With a Preliminary Discourse Concerning the Philosophy of the Ancients by the Translator.

Printed in 1763 by Robert and Andrew Roulis, the ten-book set of The Republic is easily Plato’s most famous, highly valued, and well-read philosophical dialogues.

It influenced societies throughout the centuries, beginning with Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Various translations have been interpreted and received differently throughout time as well. Lowndes writes of Harry Spens translation, “very faithful… containing not only a general epitome of the Republic of Plato, but an accurate delineation of the characters, manners, and philosophy of the ancient Greeks.”

Raptis Rare Books’ first edition in English Plato’s The Republic includes all ten books, beautifully bound in period style full calf.

Alexander Pope & His Famous Translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey

November 17th, 2014

Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope taught the world that to be inspired by greatness could earn you your own name in history. In addition to his credentials as the third most quoted literary figure by The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, topped only by Shakespeare and Tennyson, and a celebrated poet and essayist, Pope is best known for his translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. On the translation of the Iliad, Garry Wills of The New York Times writes:

In 1713, when he was only 25 years old, Alexander Pope assumed a momentous risk. Barred by his Roman Catholic religion from the normal apparatus of Government and private patronage, he took subscriptions for a large-scale project that filled his life for the next seven years and established his absolute pre-eminence among the poets of his time. The result was a version of Homer’s ”Iliad” that Samuel Johnson pronounced the greatest translation ever achieved in English or in any other language.

When Pope decided to take on the enormous prospect of translating Homer’s Iliad, he did so in subscriptions, offering one volume of the work each year for six years. Before Pope’s translation, the English translation of the Iliad was available in a long-line ballad metre version by George Chapman in 1958. The original version was praised for its “great rhetorical power,” as it left room for Homer’s figures of speech as well as new ones, while offering explanations in parenthesis throughout the work.

Though the Iliad and the Odyssey were Homer’s works originally, each translation to English creates a poetic work in its own right. Alexander Pope’s translations of the works introduced to the world the heroic couplet, a syntactical form that would become famous for future translations as well as other epics. The Rare Subscribers Issue: First editions of the celebrated translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey by Alexander Pope fully captures the transition of Homer’s into Pope’s storytelling by his own hand, with pencil annotations and notes throughout.

First Edition of Pope's Translation of The Iliad and Odyssey, Rare Book

Rare, First Edition of Alexander Pope’s translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey

In his lectures On Translating Homer, Matthew Arnold identifies four essential poetic qualities of Homer which the translator much honor:

[i] that he is eminently rapid; [ii] that he is eminently plain and direct, both in the evolution of his thought and in the expression of it, that is, both in his syntax and in his words; [iii] that he is eminently plain and direct in the substance of his thought, that is, in his matter and ideas; and, finally, [iv] that he is eminently noble.

Alexander Pope’s fascination with Homer’s poetic style carried out into his own writings. He began his own epic work, The Rape of the Lock, in the style of the Odyssey, which was to enter the story in the middle of the plot, or en media res. During his translation of the Odyssey, Pope was assisted by Elijah Fenton and William Broome, which is clearly captured the pencil notes of multiple hands. The subtleties of each tactical decision made within the entire process of Pope’s translations of Homer’s works, in which he ultimately makes them his own, is fabulously highlighted throughout the first editions of these timeless tales.

First Edition of Pope's Translation of The Iliad and Odyssey, Rare Book

Rare, First Edition of Alexander Pope’s translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey

You can view our rare, first editions of Alexander Pope’s translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey here.

The Works and Life of David Ricardo

November 11th, 2014

David RicardoDavid Ricardo’s name belongs on a list the most influential classical economists in history, including Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and James Mill. Born as one of seventeen children, Ricardo learned about competitive business interactions early on from his father, Abraham Ricardo, a successful stockbroker in London.

After being estranged from his family for eloping with a Quaker woman and converting to Unitarianism, Ricardo became a self-made man as a successful broker himself. It has been speculated that he used methods that today would get him prosecuted, such as insider trading and market manipulation, to earn his generous personal fortune from the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo.

Ricardo’s interest in economics sparked after reading Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. His inspiration led him to publish his first economics article at age 37, a time in which he also bought a seat in the U.K. Parliament. Ricardo’s theories on taxation and comparative advantage were known to have a determining role in the economic development of England and the modern western world.

David Ricardo is without doubt the greatest representative of classical political economy. He carried the work begun by Adam Smith to the farthest point possible… Ricardo, writing 50 years later than Smith, showed a greater insight into the working of the economic system… In the opinion of his own contemporaries at home and abroad, Ricardo was acknowledged the leader of the science…

As a classical economist, Ricardo developed theories that expanded on the concept of absolute advantage. Using simple mathematics, he made the argument that international trade should have a greater purpose than accumulating gold or silver. Instead, Ricardo proposed that industry specialization combined with a free international trade market would always produce positive results.

First Edition of On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, Rare Book

First Edition of Adam Ricardo’s First Edition of On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation

… The fundamental groundwork of the Principles is based on the theory that, given free competition in trade, the exchange value of commodities will be determined by the amount of labor expended in production… [a thesis] which was given new force by the theory of distribution with which Ricardo reinforced it 

In Ricardo’s On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, he suggests that nations should concentrate their resources only on industries with the highest competition. Theoretically, in the market of international free trade, this reliance on comparative advantage would lead to increasing economic prosperity for all nations involved. We carry a rare, first edition of this work here.

While Ricardo’s theories have been challenged by economists who followed, they remain a cornerstone in the concepts of international trade. One of only 750 copies, the first edition of David Ricardo’s On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation documents the groundbreaking theories that greatly shaped the international trade market we know today. Without any of the publisher’s advertisements at the end, the book is a fine example of the once innovative work written by arguably “the first ‘scientific’ economist” to have influenced our world economy.

First Edition of The Works of David Ricardo, Rare Book

First Edition of The Works of David Ricardo

You can read more about Ricardo’s fascinating life and theories in the rare first editions of On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation,  The Works and Correspondence and The Works of David Ricardo with A Notice of the Life and Writings of the Author.

Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations

November 3rd, 2014

Adam Smith“First and greatest classic of modern economic thought”: First Edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations 

American economist and historian Robert L. Heilbroner writes about Adam Smith’s influence on capitalism:

Adam Smith’s enormous authority resides, in the end, in the same property that we discover in Marx: not in any ideology, but in an effort to see the bottom of things.

Scottish economist and moral philosopher, Adam Smith, published his five-part publication, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, later referred to as simply, The Wealth of Nations, during the Scottish Enlightenment in 1776. The work was a result of seventeen years of notes and observations taken from conversations among economists about economical and societal conditions during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This is outlined in the book of bibliographical reference, Printing and the Mind of Man:

The history of economic theory up to the end of the nineteenth century consists of two parts: the mercantilist phase which was based not so much on a doctrine as on a system of practice which grew out of social conditions; and the second phase which saw the development of the theory that the individual had the right to be unimpeded in the exercise of economic activity. While it cannot be said that Smith invented the latter theory…his work is the first major expression of it.

It took Smith ten years to produce An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations. His commentary during such an incremental time, the first years of the Industrial Revolution, sought to reform outdated theories of mercantilist and physiocratic economic thought with broader concepts we’re all familiar with today, such as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.

Adam Smith's An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

An Early Edition of Adam Smith’s An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

He begins with the thought that labour is the source from which a nation derives what is necessary to it. The improvement of the division of labour is the measure of productivity and in it lies the human propensity to barter and exchange…Labour represents the three essential elements-wages, profit and rent-and these three also constitute income. From the working of the economy, Smith passes to its matter-’stock’-which compasses all that man owns either for his own consumption or for the return which it brings him.

Bound in period style full brown calf, with elaborately gilt-decorated spines, the 1776 publication of An Inquiry into The Wealth of Nations was the first of only five editions that were published in Adam Smith’s lifetime. Said to be the birth of what we now know to be modern economic thought, the book has greatly influenced economists and philosophers of his time and those that followed, including Jean-Baptiste Say, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Malthus, and Ludwig von Misis.

First Edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Rare Book

Rare, First Edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations

The Wealth of Nations ends with a history of economic development, a definitive onslaught on the mercantile system, and some prophetic speculations on the limits of economic control…The Wealth of Nations is not a system, but as a provisional analysis it is complete convincing. The certainty of its criticism and its grasp of human nature have made it the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought.

Today, An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations is said to have been as influential in the shift of the field of economics as Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy was to the field of physics or Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was to the field of biology.

Captain Cook’s Voyages

November 1st, 2014

Rare, complete set of Cook's Voyages by Captain James CookConsidered “really the first scientific navigator,” Captain James Cook made invaluable contributions to European knowledge of the Pacific Ocean, which he sailed for 12 years in 3 voyages. His accomplishments include the first recorded contact with Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. Within these achievements, however, are a multitude of triumphs, tragedies, and fascinating artifacts, all captured within the very rare first edition of Captain Cook’s Voyages.

In Captain Cook’s Voyages, the explorer first sets sail out of England in 1768. Before heading to New Zealand and becoming the first to map the entire country’s coastline, the captain anchored in Tahiti, where he watched with the Royal Society the small black disk of Venus travel across the Sun. When Cook finally reached Australia, making first recorded European contact with the continent, he and his crew were nearly shipwrecked by the Great Barrier Reef.

Many little known facts come up in Captain Cook’s Voyages, some bewildering, others downright fascinating. For example, while the captain did lose many of his crew to malaria in modern day Indonesia, he was also accredited with not having lost any members of his crew to scurvy, an unusual feat for that time period. Another of these facts comes up in Cooks second voyage:

Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time in history and thought he disproved the existence of the “Great Southern Continent”. He actually almost reached Antarctica on one occasion, but then turned towards Tahiti for supplies.

In Captain Cook’s third voyage, his goal was to reach the west coast of the American continent. He succeeded in doing so, charting the west coast of America from Northern California down to the Bering Strait.

Rare, complete set of Cook's Voyages by Captain James Cook

Rare, complete set of Cook’s Voyages by Captain James Cook

Cook was the first navigator to accurately map the coast, and, by carrying away a collection of furs, he introduced the fur trade to the English and American traders, whose subsequent expeditions were based upon his discoveries… no other contemporaneously printed source narrative is of comparable importance.

Continuing on his voyage, Captain Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands, which he named the Sandwich Islands. It was here that Cook suffered a dramatic death, becoming a national hero. The uniformly bound set of his voyages documents a series of real life adventures and discoveries that would influence future explorers and eventually change the way we look at the world.

We have an amazingly rare, complete set of all nine volumes of Cook’s Voyages by Captain James Cook. This uniformly bound set is comprised of all first editions and is a true piece of history. Learn more about it here.

Rare, complete set of Cook's Voyages by Captain James Cook

Rare, complete set of Cook’s Voyages by Captain James Cook

Don Quixote de la Mancha and the Life of Cervantes

October 31st, 2014

CervantesMiguel de Cervantes Saavedra led a life as fascinating as the characters in his novels, poems, and plays. Having spent much of his early life in Rome, Italy, Cervantes became enraptured in a Renaissance dream of art, architecture, and poetry. It was during this period of his life that the author became obsessed with capturing the fierce romanticism of the Renaissance era with the net of contemporary Spanish language.

Cervantes soon awoke from his dream when his enrollment in the Spanish Navy Marines, stationed in Naples, became an active reality. Through life-threatening illness, Cervantes fought for his God and king until he was shot and 3 times and loss the use of his left, sword-wielding arm. The heroic virtues the young soldier displayed in war, including chivalry, selflessness, and honor, would eventually live on in his magnum opus, Don Quixote.

Printed by Tho. Hodgkin and translated by John Phillips, Don Quixote derives much of its inspiration from the actual events of Cervantes life. The novel tells a tale of a man who aims to live out the romantic literature of his life by adventuring around the world with farmer-turned-squire, Sancho Panza.

Don Quixote is generally recognized as the first modern novel. Over those years, it has had an incredible influence on thousands of writers, from Dickens to Faulkner, who once said he reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”

Don Quixote de la Mancha, lavishly illustrated

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote de la Manca, Rare Edition

Don Quixote, available as a first edition of the first illustrated edition in English, captured many of the themes that later came up in contemporary literature, including realism, meta theatre, and literary representation. The book earned Cervantes the title “The Prince of Wits,” and became so influential after his lifetime that the Spanish language was often referred to as “la lingua de Cervantes,” the language of Cervantes.

First Illustrated Edition in English of Cervantes' Masterpiece Don Quixote

First Illustrated Edition in English of Cervantes’ Masterpiece Don Quixote

Vladimir Nabokov is quoted describing the vitality and evergreen significance of this incredible novel:

Don Quixote is greater today than he was in Cervantes’s womb. [He] looms so wonderfully above the skyline of literature, a gaunt giant on a lean nag, that the book lives and will live through [his] sheer vitality… He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon.

In addition to this rare find, Don Quixote is available in a red leather-bound edition, not translated, and both an illustrated two-volume set and three-volume set translated by Charles Jarvis.

Don Quixote de la Mancha, lavishly illustrated

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote de la Manca, Rare Edition

American Presidents

October 7th, 2014
Dreams From My FatherFirst Edition, Signed by President Barack Obama

Dreams From My Father
First Edition, Signed by President Barack Obama

United States Presidents have carried out countless of important acts for our country, including the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 that allowed US citizens of any race or color to vote in any state, the New Deal relief programs that helped the country out of its Great Depression in the 1930s, and the initiation of Project Apollo, which culminated in the first moon landing by the United States in 1969. But who were the men in the Oval Office? What were intimate details of our past presidents’ moral beliefs and social upbringings?

Very many works have been written about the United States presidents, in the form of both memoirs and biographies. Even today’s leader of the free world, President Obama, has published the stories of his life in his memoir, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:

All men live in the shadow of their fathers – the more distant the father, the deeper the shadow. Barack Obama describes his confrontation with this shadow in his provocative autobiography… and he also persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to either.

There have been dozens of work written by and about United States presidents, covering topics as intimate as their childhood and upbringing and as compelling as their personal views on economics and politics. These accounts and opinions become even more fascinating over time, serving as testaments to important periods in US history, written by the men in charge of change.

Profiles in Courage First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

Profiles in Courage First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

While he was still the junior senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, a compilation of stories about eight influential people he considered courageous beyond measure:

The inspiring accounts of eight previous heroic acts by American patriots inspired the American public to remember the courage progress requires. Now, a half-century later, it remains a classic and a relevant testament to the national spirit that celebrates the most noble of human virtues. Kennedy relates these heroisms to sketches of American politicians who have risked their careers for principle. “A man does what he must,” he wrote, “in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.”

More or his views on morality and American freedom can be read about in JFK’s original campaign speech, delivered in St. Louis, Missouri in October of 1960 and complete with annotations in his hand.

While JFK was a president of progress and social change, Ulysses S. Grant served as an active agent of that change during his time in the Civil War, earning himself the title of one of the most valuable military commanders in history. Most know that President Grant was credited with his defeat over the Confederacy and therefore widely celebrated as a hero before his time in the White House. Today, the colorful details of his military career and time as president are available in a first edition, two-volume set, complete with a letter written by U.S. Grant to his childhood friend J. Russell Jones. Written while President Grant was dying of cancer and published by Mark Twain, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant have been described as “the best memoirs of any general’s since Caesar.”

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

Up to sixteen works by United States presidents are available today in their first editions, including those by or about Thomas Jefferson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, George Washington, Lyndon Johnson, and George H. W. Bush.

Charles Dickens & His Works

September 30th, 2014

Charles DickensMore than a famed writer and social critic of the Victorian period, Charles John Huffam Dickens touched the lives of people with the very human complexity of his fictional characters. Through his critically acclaimed novels, Dickens invoked profound thought and criticism around “social evils, injustice, and hypocrisy.”

In a commentary on a rare, extensive collection of his works, which include A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and more, historians write:

"His imaginative freshness, his deep and sincere tenderness and pity, his whole-souled humor that is seldom sharpened into whit, his superabundance of creative energy, have built a deathless niche in the temple of fame for Charles Dickens."

So ingrained is his work in society, that the term Dickensian is often used to describe poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters. Each volume in this very attractive Dickens set is bound in half green morocco gilt with red floral inlays, and complete with full-page illustrations. Another collection of Dickens’ volumes offers the same titles, but with all books bound in full red morocco and containing two autograph letters signed by Dickens himself.

The Complete Works of Charles Dickens

The Works of Charles Dickens Signed by Charles Dickens.

Dickens’ writings reflect much of the injustice of his own life, as he was forced to leave school at an early age and work in a factory as a result of his father being thrown into debtors’ prison. In perhaps the most popular tale of poverty and hypocrisies of his time, Charles Dickens tells the story of flawed and entirely loveable orphan, Oliver Twist.

"Some characters are drawn with humorous realism, but for the most part humor is dimed by gloomy memories of the author’s own neglected childhood and sensational scenes are shrouded in an atmosphere generally eerie and sinister…"

First Edition, First Issue of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Rare Book

First Edition, First Issue of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Naïve and completely clueless to any of his own wrongdoing, the young orphan Oliver ends up in the hands of an elderly criminal trainer, Fagin. The storyline continues, shrouded in a cloud of dark humor, sarcasm, and unromantic portrayals of the criminal and the impoverished. This 1838 first edition of the novel is available in three volumes, bound in original red cloth.

Arguably the most famous work of literary fiction to have ever existed, A Tale of Two Cities is available in its first edition, first issue. The storyline of this classic novel follows the tension between the French peasantry and aristocracy in London and France during the years leading up to the French Revolution. Written again in the perspective of an antihero, the 1859 published novel follows themes of “imprisonment, injustice, and cataclysmic violence, resurrection and the renunciation that makes renewal possible.”

First Edition, First Issue of a Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Rare Book

First Edition, First Issue of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ collection The Christmas Books: A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Battle of Life; Cricket on the Hearth; The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain, were published over the course of five years, from 1843 to 1848. Bound in full red polished calf and with gilt-decorated spines, these five volumes are responsible for developing the themes that have since been associated with the Christmas holiday itself, including “love and redemption, charity and mercy.” These books contain many features unique to the first editions, including publisher’s imprints and an advertising leaf for Oliver Twist.

Other rare, first edition publications of this world famous author are available, including: The Curse of Kehama, Dombey and Son, Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, Master Humphrey’s Clock, and The Life of Our Lord.

The Roosevelts

September 26th, 2014

The Roosevelts

In his fourteen-hour PBS special, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns highlights the extraordinary journey of the Roosevelt family’s American legacy in the White House. Beginning with Theodore’s birth in 1858 and ending with Eleanor’s death in 1962, the seven part film documents the influential family’s enormous part in shaping the country throughout the “years during which much of the modern world and the modern state was created.”

The narrator describes the fascinating dichotomy between the two Roosevelt presidents:

They belonged to different parties. They overcame different obstacles. They had different temperaments and styles of leadership. But it was the similarities and not the differences between the two that meant the most to history.

One of the major obstacles that FDR and First Lady Eleanor faced was the threat and eventual reality of World War II in 1939. In her Pulitzer Prize-Winning book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin offers a fascinating look into Franklin and Eleanor’s personal lives, as well as their impacts on the nation and the world, both separately and as a unit.

Published by Simon and Schuster in 1994, this first edition work strings together the story lines of FDR and Eleanor’s powerful marriage, Eleanor’s experience as First Lady, and the details of FDR’s White House as it impacted the nation and the world.

First Edition of No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Rare Book, Roosevelts

Signed First Edition of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.
by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Both who were children of privilege came to see themselves as champions of the working man and earned the undying enmity of many of those with among they’d grown to manhood. They shared a sense of stewardship of the American land, an untamed love for people and politics, and a firm belief that the United States has a firm role to play in the wider world. Both were hugely ambitious, impatient with the drab notion that the mere making of money should be enough to satisfy any man or nation, and each took unabashed delight in the great power of his office to do good. Each displayed unbounded optimism and self-confidence. Each refused to surrender to physical limitations that might’ve destroyed them. And each had an uncanny ability to rally men and women to his cause.

Arguably the most popular president to this day, Theodore Roosevelt cast a large shadow for FDR to live up to. It’s fitting that it took acclaimed American writer Edmund Morris an entire biographical trilogy to capture the legacy of the 26th president of the United States.

Published in 1979 by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won a Pulitzer Prize and the 1980 National Book Award in Biography. Our first edition covers Theodore’s life beginning with his birth and tapering off at the exciting time when he first rose to presidency.

Theodore Rex continues with the fascinating details of Teddy Roosevelt’s time in office, during which time he built the Panama Canal, became the first president to speak out on conservation, and won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiations that ended the Russo-Japanese War. In the book, which we have a first edition of, intimate details come out about Teddy’s story, including his opinions about the constitution’s role in government at the turn of the century, such as those so beautifully outlined in the PBS special:

He believed that the government of the United States had to be much more central, energetic and assertive than the constitution had envisioned it, or we could not go on as a nation.

In an artful storytelling of history, Morris completes the trilogy with Colonel Roosevelt, which tells the journey of Theodore’s life as his health staggered and led to his eventual death in 1919.

First Edition of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Colonel Roosevelt

Signed First Edition of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, Colonel Roosevelt.
By Edmund Morris