Rare and Unusual Books

The VNSA Book Sale includes a special section for rare and unusual books.  The following is a sample of the books that were available at the 2020 sale.


Anne of Green Gables, By L. M. Montgomery
Published by L C. Page, Boston, 1929 (64th impression)
Eight glossy black and white illustrations by Elizabeth R. Withington.  Ten ads in the back of the book. Written for all ages, it has been considered a children’s classic novel since the mid-twentieth century.  Since its publication, it has been translated into at least 36 languages and has sold more than 50 million copies, making it one of the best selling books worldwide.

Celtic Fairy Tales, By Joseph Jacobs (Editor)
Tales from Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Oriental Fairy Tales, By Henry Ketcham (Editor)
Stories including Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Sinbad the Sailor
Both published by A.L. Burt, NY, c 1900
Profusely illustrated.
Sold together

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Fields
Published by The Macmillan Company, NY, 1929
First Edition.  A children’s novel that won the Newbery Medal in 1930.  The book is told from the point of view of an inanimate doll named Hitty (short for Mehitabel) who was constructed in the 1820s and has since traveled around the world, through many different owners.


All Under Heaven, by Pearl Buck
Published by The John Day Company, NY, 1973
SIGNED.  Special Edition in honor of the author’s 80th birthday. Limited to 1000 copies of which this is #85.  The author combines her love of China and native America in this sensitive drama.

The Great Gatsby, A Facsimile of the Manuscript, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published by Microcard Editions Books, Washington, D.C., 1973
First printing of two thousand copies, this one being copy number 728. With slipcase.  Fully illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of Fitzgerald’s handwritten manuscript.

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Published by Charles Scribner’s and Sons, NY, 1952
Early printing with $3.00 price on dust jacket and Scribner’s seal but no “A.”  Not a Book-Of-The-Month-Club edition. Pale blue calico-pattern cloth binding, the signature of the author blind stamped on front cover. This story was written in 1951 in Cuba and was published in 1952.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953. 

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, Illustrated by Oliver Messel
Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, London, 1936
INSCRIBED and SIGNED by Oliver Messel, English artist and one of the foremost stage designers of the 20th century.  Many illustrations with some color plates tipped in.   

Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
Published by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1859
Rebound first edition without ads.  Marbled endpapers and page edges. Set in the early 1800s and notable for its strong realism

CLASSICS (Small Press Books)

Billy Budd Sailor (An Inside Narrative), by Herman Melville
Published by Married Mettle Press, NJ, 1987
This limited edition of 185 books was made by Benjamin and Deborah Alterman at Married Mettle Press in Mount Holly, N.J.  The book is #78 and is SIGNED by both Deborah and Benjamin Alterman. It is letterpress printed on a Vandercook and a Washington hand-press on dampened paper, handmade from rags, three-quarters linen and one-quarter cotton.  It has hand-painted endpapers and original binding of bronze spine and wooden boards.  

The Hidden Treasures or The Adventures of Maitre Cornelius, by Honore De Balzac
Published by L.D. Allen Press, Kentfield, CA, 1953
Decorative title page and four other colored woodcuts by Mallette Dean.  Printed throughout in blue and black. Fifty-five leaves, handsomely printed in letterpress.  Two-toned marbled boards, uncut edges. Limited edition of only 160 copies. It is a famous love story set in fifteenth-century France. 

We have two copies of this work by Balzac, one with an accompanying prospectus and one without.

The Private Journals of Stendahl 1811-1817, translated by Francis Carmody
Published by L.D. Press, Kentfield, CA, 1954
Limited Edition of 175 copies. Printed on an Acorn hand-press and bound in a Fortuny print from Venice.  Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle) is considered to be the greatest of French novelists. His private journals are remarkably personal. The present text, 1811-1817, has been selected and translated by Carmody. 

What Men Live By, by Leo Tolstoy
Published by The L.D. Allen Press, Belvedere, CA, 1951
Wood engravings by Mallette Dean.  Limited edition of only 150 copies.  The book was designed, printed on a hand press, and bound by Lewis & Dorothy Allen.
An inspiring parable, beautifully told by one of the world’s greatest writers, a story of love and its happy, infinite power. 


The Art of Marbling, By Franz Weisse
Published by Bird and Bull Press, North Hills, PA, 1980
One of 300 numbered copies over boards by E. G. Parrot.  Printed on Green’s handmade B & B paper. Translation and Introduction by Richard J. Wolfe.  Photographic illustrations and tipped-in plates. (Paper marbling is a method of surface design producing patterns similar to marble or other kinds of stone.)

(We also have a related book, On Improvements in Marbling the Edges of Books by Richard J. Wolfe, Bird & Bull Press, 1983.  One of 350.)

Hans Liska:  Combat Artist Sketchbook of Watercolors From World War II – France, Russia, Crimea – German Combat Soldiers in WWII, By Hans Liska
Published by Carl Werner, Reichenbach i. V. 1943
Liska is one of the most well-known and prolific WWII Axis illustrators who served with the German Armed forces during the war. Stunning watercolors of German troops in combat on various fronts.

Naoyuki Katoh SF Illustrations: Acryl, Gouache, Pen and Ink, By Naoyuki Katoh
Published by Asahi Sonorama, Japan, 1983
SIGNED.  114 illustrations including 103 in color.  With the foreword by Robert T, McCall and Aritsune Toyota.

(We have a second book with the same title and artist, dated 1981, with a foreword by Sakyo Komatsu. Also SIGNED. This one has 105 illustrations including 95 in color.)

The Nature of Order:  Four Volumes: Book One The Phenomenon of Life, Book Two The Process of Creating Life, Book Three A Vision of the Living World, Book Four The Luminous Ground, By Christopher Alexander
Published by The Center for Environmental Structure, Berkeley, CA, 2002
Four volume set from the acclaimed architect and professor.  This set is the result of 27 years of research. Three perspectives on the world are discussed: scientific purpose, beauty and grace. Illustrated by many photographs, line drawings and architectural renderings.

Picasso: Toreros with Four Original Lithographs, By James Sabartes
Published by George Braziller, NY, and Andre Sauret, Monte Carlo, 1961
This book of bullfighting scenes includes the four original lithographs by Pablo Picasso with one in color.  There are 103 reproduced illustrations in black-and-white. Translated from the French by Patrick Gregory. 153 pages.  

Selected Poetry of W.H. Auden, By W. H. Auden
Published by Modern Library, NY, 1958
SIGNED by author.  Regarded as the foremost poet of our time.  This book contains a generous selection of Auden’s poetry. The poems were chosen by the author for this edition.

A Wonderful Time:  An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life, By Slim Aarons
Published by Harper & Row, Publishers, NY, 1974
First Edition, price clipped dust jacket.  This work captures the life of America’s elite from coast to coast, in Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Acapulco.  The author drew from thousands of pictures taken since World War II on assignments for magazines such as Town & Country, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, and others.  


The Lives of All the Lords Chancellors, Lords Keepers, and Lords Commissioners, of the Great Seal of England; from William the Conqueror, to the Present Time… , By Anonymous (An Impartial Hand)
Published by R. Bonwicke, W. Freeman, Tim Goodwin, et al, London, 1712
Second edition, with additions.  Two volumes. Information on English life and social history, this collection shows the world as it was known to 18th century historians and explorers. 

Memoirs by Harry S. Truman in Two Volumes: Year of Decision and Years of Trial and Hope, By Harry S. Truman
Published by Doubleday, NY, 1955
SIGNED and INSCRIBED and dated 4/14/56 (Volume 1) and SIGNED (Volume 2). Kansas City Edition.  In this invaluable account, President Truman provides valuable insight into events that shaped our world.

Military Operations of General Beauregard in the War Between the States 1861-1865, By Alfred Roman
Published by Harper & Brothers, NY, 1884
Attached to the fontispiece is a calling card beginning with “Dear Col,” accepting an invitation, SIGNED by G. P. T. Beauregard and dated March 12/84. Volume 1 of a 2-volume set.  Beauregard entered the Civil War as the Confederacy’s first brigadier general and was placed in command of the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina. In this role he ordered the first shots of the Civil War during the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  Following his military career, he advocated black civil rights and black suffrage. 

Narrative of Military Operations, Directed, During the Late War Between the States, by Joseph E. Johnston, General, C. S. A.
Published by D. Appleton and Company, NY, 1874
This is an account of the Civil War from the perspective of Confederate General J. E. Johnston.  The author was a career United States Army officer. After Virginia seceded, he entered the Confederate States Army as one of its most senior officers.  His effectiveness in the Civil War was undercut by tensions with Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The book has maps and tissue-guarded plates. The spine has been rebound.

Tallis’s Illustrated Plan of London and its Environs in Commemoration of the Great Exhibition of Industry of All Nations,  by John Tallis
Published by John Tallis & Co., London, 1851
A detailed map of London, extending to Hammersmith in the west, clockwise to Cricklewood, Hampstead, Stamford Hill, Leytonstone, Greenwich, Peckham, Batersea Rise and Parson’s Green.  Around the edges of the map are 49 views of buildings including the “Crystal Palace” of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park.

Turkish Harems and Circassian Homes, by Annie Jane Harvey
Published by Hurst and Blackett, London, 1871
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important.  It is an account of the author’s travels in Turkey and Circassia. It offers a mix of travelogue and harem account. The descriptions of harem visits and Ottoman women are combined with the author’s observation of landscape, towns, street scenes and aspects of domestic life.


California as an Island, by John Leighy
Published by The Book Club of California, San Francisco, 1972
One of 450 copies.  Folio with 155 pages.  Color map of the world on the title page, Twelve black and white maps illustrating the essay, plus 25 plates of maps, and an index to mapmakers and publishers.  Dr. Leighy was enlisted by The Book Club of California to write an essay on the history of California as an island. His essay is illustrated with reproductions of maps that trace the progression of California from peninsula to island and back again.

The Couling-Chalfant Collection of Inscribed Oracle Bone, Drawn by Frank H. Chalfant, Edited by Roswell S. Britton
Published by The Commercial Press, LTD., Shanghai, 1935
Frank Chalfant was a Presbyterian missionary to China who became an authority on the history of Chinese writing. The oracle bones illustrated in this book were acquired in Shantung between 1904 and 1908 by Chalfant and Samuel Couling.  They are now divided between the British Museum, the Field Museum of Chicago, the Royal Scottish Museum, and the Carnegie Museum. The oracle bones bear the earliest known significant evidence of ancient Chinese writing and contain important historical information.

Diderot Encyclopedia: The Complete Illustrations 1762-1777, By Editors Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert
Published by Harry N. Abrams, NY, 1978
Five volumes in slipcase.  The Encyclopedia was published originally in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revisited editions and translations.  The Encyclopedia is famous for representing the thoughts of the Enlightenment. There are anatomical drawings, architectural plans, tool illustrations, world maps, animals and plants that summarize knowledge as it was at the time.


The Beast Master, by Andre Norton
Published by Harcourt, Brace & Company, NY, 1959
Probably the most popular book by the “Grand Dame of Science-Fiction.”  The Cleveland born author assumed a male name to better sell her works. It is a sword and sorcery epic.  It is the unaccredited source for the 1982 film.

City, by Clifford Simak
Published by Gnome Press, NY, 1952
SIGNED by author. Winner of the 1953 International Fantasy Award.  A science fiction novel consisting of eight linked short stories, all originally published between 1944 and 1951.

Conan Collection
Seven books in the Conan series, all published by Gnome.  Sold as a set.

By Robert E. Howard:
Conan the Conqueror, 1950
The Sword of Conan, 1952
King Conan, 1953
The Coming of Conan, 1953
Conan the Barbarian, 1954

By Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp:

Tales of Conan, 1955
The Return of Conan, 1957

Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
Published by Del Rey/Ballantine, NY, 1978
SIGNED and inscribed “For Russell.”  Stated First Printing: October, 1978.   First book of the Dragonriders of Pern.
We have a second First Printing copy of Dragonflight.  This book lacks a signature.   

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Published by Harmony Books, NY, 1980
SIGNED with a simple signature, no inscription.  Stated first edition with full number line. Dust jacket is not price clipped and has the original $6.95 price. 

Job: A Comedy of Justice, by Robert A. Heinlein
Published by Del Rey Book Ballantine Books, NY, 1984
SIGNED by author. First Edition.  Limited to 700 numbered copies. This one is #145.  Includes the cloth slipcase. 1984 Nebula Award and 1885 Hugo Award nominee for best novel. 

Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter, by (Isaac Asimov) Paul French
Published by Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1957
First edition.  Juvenile adventure story written by Asimov under the name of Paul French.  The $2.75 price is on the inside flap and there are seven titles on the rear panel making it the first edition jacket.

Restaurant at the end of the Universe, by Douglas Adams
Published by Harmony Books, NY, 1981
SIGNED by Douglas Adams. First Edition with full number line.  Unclipped dust jacket. This book is the second volume in the “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series. 

Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Published by Gollancz, London, 1972
First British and first hardcover edition. Publisher’s price intact.  Winner of both the 1970 Nebula Award and the 1971 Hugo Award for the best novel.   

Robot Dreams, by Isaac Asimov
Published by Berkley Books, NY, 1986
SIGNED.  Limited Edition (#236 of 300).   Frontice by Ralph McQuarrie. Includes slipcase.

Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem
Published by Easton Press, 2008
Full Leather Collector’s Edition.  Silk ribbon page marker. This novel was first published in Warsaw in 1961.   Its central theme is the failure of human beings to understand an extraterrestrial intelligence.  


Argonaut Tales: Stories of the Gold Seekers and the Indian Scouts of Early Arizona, by Edmund Wells
Published by Frederick H. Hitchcock, 1927
SIGNED by author. Illustrated by Evan T. Wilson.  Stories about the Cheyenne and Apache, Pauline Weaver (the mountain man, explorer and military scout), and the military of the southwest.  Edmund Wells was an American jurist, businessman, and politician. He was known as “Arizona’s first millionaire.” After retiring from the Bank of Arizona, Wells wrote Argonaut Tales, a book about his early experiences.

Indian Blankets and Their Makers, by George Wharton James
Published by A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, 1914
INSCRIBED and SIGNED by the author.  Title page printed in black and red. Many black and white drawings and photos, and 32 color plates of Indian blankets.
A history of old-style wool blankets including and the symbolism of design and color.  Emphasis on the Navajos. Includes information on dyeing, squaw dresses, hair braids, belts, and the Bayeta and Chimayo blankets. 

The Land of Poco Tiempo, by Charles Fletcher Lummis
Published by Sampson Low, Marston, & Company, London, 1893
Lummis was a journalist, author, magazine editor, museum founder, photographer, folklorist, ethnographer and Native Rights activist. This is the most important non-fiction work by the author.  It is his observations of the people and customs of New Mexico in the first half of the century. It includes an important account, with photographs, of the Penitent Brothers (Los Hermanos Penitentes).  

Personal Recollections of General Nelson A. Miles, by Nelson Appleton Miles
Published by Werner Company, Chicago, IL, 1896
The full title is “Personal Recollections and Observations of General Nelson A. Miles, Embracing a Brief View of the Civil War or From New England to the Golden Gate and the Story of His Indian Campaigns with Comments on the Exploration, Development and Progress of Our Great Western Empire.”  The book is illustrated with graphic pictures by Frederic Remington and other eminent artists.

Twenty-First Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1899-1900, by J. W. Powell
Published by the Government Printing Office, Washington, 1903
“Hopi katchinas, Drawn by Native Artists,” by Jesse Walter Fewkes, with 62 full color plates of hundreds of katchina figures.


Hawaii Collection
Sold as a set.  Five books about Hawaii from the Worthington family library, most SIGNED by Henry Restarick Worthington and one by H.B. Restarick, the first American Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii: 

  1. The Hawaiian Islands: Their Progress and Condition Under Missionary Labors;
  2. History of the Sandwich Islands Mission;
  3. The Legends and Myths of Hawaii: the Fables and Folk-lore of a Strange People;
  4. Legends of Old Honolulu; and
  5. The Princess of Manoa and Other Romantic Tales from the Folk-lore of Old Hawaii.

Magicians’ Magic Movements and Ceremonies According to the Latest Formulas, no author noted
Published by Allen Publishing Co., NY, 1925
A Masonic Ritual book that was purposely published with a misleading title.  According to the Scottish Rite Museum, it reveals the humor used in creating some of these misleading titles.  It is, in actuality, a cipher.      

Satyre (The Satires), by Decis Junis Juvenalis
Printed in Latin in MCCCCCXXIII (1523)

Security Analysis Principles and Technique, by Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd
Published by McGraw Hill Book Company, NY, 1934
First Edition Seventh Impression.  Written by professors Graham and Dodd of Columbia Business School. It laid the foundation for what would later be called value investing.  This first edition was published shortly after the Wall Street crash and start of the Great Depression. Graham is credited with inventing the Benjamin Method, a strategy of fundamental analysis, whereby investors analyze stock data to find assets that have been systematically undervalued. 

Select Views in Greece, by Hugh William Williams
Published by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green; and Adam Black, London & Edinburgh, 1829
64 fine engraved plates. Depicts landscapes and historical sites of Greece in classical antiquity and more modern times. Williams (called Grecian Williams) was the Scottish watercolor artist.  There are also a few plates by English architect, archaeologist and artist Charles Robert Cockerel.

The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel in Two Volumes, Volume 2, by John Flavel
Printed for D. Midwinter, R. Ware, T. Cox, A. Ward, et al, London, 1740
Title page: “Mr. John Flavel, Late Minister at Dartmouth in Devon, In Two Volumes, Volume II, To which is added an Alphabetical Table of the Texts of Scripture explained; and an index of the Principle Matters contain’d in this volume, The Fourth Edition, Corrected”