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Wallace Stevens. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company letterhead stationery.
Hartford, Connecticut: circa 1950. Single unused sheet. $300.
Letterhead from the desk of American poetWallace Stevens, Vice President of the
Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company. A surprising survival.
William Strunk. The Elements of Style.
New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1920.
Octavo, original blue cloth over printed paper boards. $1500.
First published edition, preceded by the privately printed Ithaca pamphlets of 1918
and 1919. For two decades, English professor Strunk assigned this sharp, sensible
handbook to Cornell undergraduates in need of an editor. “A sentence should
contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same
reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unneces-
sary parts.” In 1959, Strunk’s former student E.B.White, class of 1921, updated the
handbook to produce the bestselling style guide known as “Strunk andWhite.”
Copies that predateWhite’s involvement, printed for Strunk’s classroom use,
are quite scarce. An early example of the “little book” that redefined modern
American writing.
William Shakespeare. Stockdale’s Edition of Shakespeare: Including,
in One Volume, The Whole of His Dramatic Works.
London: John Stockdale, 1784.
Thick octavo, full contemporary mottled calf gilt, black spine label. $2800.
First single-volume octavo edition of Shakespeare’s plays, aimed at a popular
readership: “The book now offered to the public may commodiously be taken into
a coach or a postchaise, for amusement in a journey. Or if a company of gentlemen
should happen, in conversation, to mention Shakespeare, or to dispute concerning
any particular passage, a volume containing the whole of his plays may, with great
convenience, be fetched by a servant out of a library or a closet.”
[William Shakespeare]. Dramatic Characters,
or Different Portraits of the English Stage.
London: Printed for Robert Sayer and John Smith, 1770.
Square twelvemo, full contemporary calf gilt, twenty-four hand-colored plates. $6000.
First edition of these color plates depicting eighteenth-century English stage
actors in their defining roles, based on drawings made directly from performance.
The collection is dedicated to David Garrick, who appears as Hamlet, Lear, and
Macbeth. A fascinating artifact of the London stage.
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