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[TYSSOT DE PATOT, Simon.] Voyages et Avantures de Jaques Masse. A Bordeaux, Jaques l'Aveugle 1710 [ie The Hague c1715?]. 12mo modern calf. Title a touch rough around the edge, browning of the earlier sections, a pretty good copy. Au$950

First edition it seems of this imaginary Australian voyage and troublemaking utopia. The bibliographical world has accepted Rosenberg's separation and stretch of the four '1710' editions over four decades, with the first appearing no earlier than 1714 and the last not before 1742. As I have the first, his 'A', I'm hardly going to argue with him.
Early commentators dismissed Tyssot and his book with a snarl: atheistic and scandalous, socialist, meprisable (contemptible), inexpressibly confused; but modern scholars have gone industrial. A quick survey shows the wealth of academic ore mined from Tyssot: Judaism and Enlightenment; Language and the History of Thought; Astronomy, Prophecy and Imposture; Cartesianism and Female Equality; The Ideal Language; Masks, Blackness, Race; Early Deism in France; The Wandering Jew; and I'm sure there's plenty left. I do wonder how many of these scholars read the book: more than one describes a very different book from the one before me.


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RADCLIFFE, Ann. The Italian, or, The Confessional of the Black Penitents. A romance. Dublin, printed for P. Wogan &c 1797. Two volumes 12mo contemporary sheep (some insect chewing of leather around the spines). Some browning and signs of use but a pleasing enough original copy. Au$850

First Irish edition, hard on the heels of the London edition. Having never recovered from The Mysteries of Udolpho and the wonder and awe it produced in me - I still wonder how it didn't kill the Romantic movement stone dead and I had an awful urge to slap Emily every time she trembled in ecstacy faced with a slice of nature - I'm unable to face The Italian. The conflicting opinions of it being her both her best and her worst book make it a bit intriguing.


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[ERSKINE, Thomas]. Armata. A fragment. [with] The Second Part of Armata. London, John Murray 1817. Two volumes octavo, together in 19th century half calf, spine elaborately gilded. A bit of browning, a handsome pleasing copy. Au$750

Second editions of both parts. This now obscure Antarctic imaginary voyage to another world connected to ours at the south pole might have been popular, in a mild and genteel way: there were supposedly five editions of the first part in 1817 and the second part likewise reached five editions by 1819. It is possible they were manufactured as part of Erskine’s joke in the preface of part two that histories such as this were doomed to obscurity whereas if he called it a romance it was guaranteed two editions at least by the lending libraries alone. While the first and second edition of the first part are different settings, the second and fourth editions are from the same setting. The first and second editions of part two are from the same setting, as is the fourth edition up until signature K which is where Erskine added some footnotes.
Erskine's Armata is dystopian in intent but he is too polite and good natured to go overboard about it and although a couple of hundred or so sailors, from earth and from Armata, are obliterated at each end of the book they are dispatched in a sentence each. Even the narrator's beloved Morvina, who is literally killed by her induction into society, is done to death in a quiet half page, the narrator apologetic for being tactless enough to mention it. But, skimming past the legal religious stuff - I couldn't follow the outrageous fraud the clergy put over the government and justice system - there are some delightful scenes of bone crunching mayhem once Armata society sets off for an evening out.
Erskine, also now obscure, was once described as the "greatest advocate as well as the first forensic orator who ever appeared in any age" (James High as quoted in Patterson's 'Nobody's Perfect'). He remained all his life a fierce defender of freedom of speech and the liberty of the press with one startling lapse: after defending Thomas Paine at the cost of his own position he prosecuted a bookseller for distributing Paine's writing. Apparently he later returned the retainer in remorse but he remained open to accusations of self interest in that case.


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KENNEDY, William [ed]. The Continental Annual, and Romantic Cabinet, for 1832. With illustrations by Samuel Prout. London, Smith, Elder [1832]. Octavo publisher's morocco; x,313pp, 13 engraved plates including the extra title. Plates a bit foxed but in all quite good. Au$75

Not a bad gathering of romantic, often near gothic fiction with such tales as The Fanatic; The Wax Figure; The Black Gate of Treves; The Spy; and The Prima Donna, a Tale of Music.


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SUE, Eugene. Paula Monti: or, The Hotel Lambert. London, Chapman and Hall 1845. Octavo 19th century gilt half calf (side a little scuffed); 20 plates "engraved under the superintendence of Mr. Charles Heath, from designs by Jules David". An excellent and handsome copy, mostly still unopened. Au$175

First English edition of this romantic thriller. From near the end: " ... deceived by the dusk, by Bertha's cloak, and particularly by his conviction that his wife was in the chalet, shot the princess. The next morning the shawl of Iris was found floating in one of the lakes. It may be remembered that De Morville had said to Paula that a solemn oath ... another of the machinations of Iris ... the gipsy girl had ... represented a fearful picture of the fierce and suspicious jealousy of the Prince ... some murderous strategem ... " And I've still left you plenty of thrills.


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CALABRELLA, Baroness de. Evenings at Haddon Hall ... with illustrations from designs by George Cattermole. London, Colburn 1846. Largish octavo later half blue crushed morocco by Root; 24 handcoloured plates. An excellent, handsome, quite remarkable copy. Au$375

First edition. Haddon Hall hasn't been admitted into the Gothic canon and this is almost unfair. A melange of tales - one by Ainsworth - most have more than enough blood, murder, turmoil, torment, torture and revenge to qualify. This was immensely popular through the 19th century, perhaps due to Cattermole, but I think it now has been wrongly relegated with the simpering Victorian books down the pretty end of the shelf.
I couldn't find a publisher's advertisement for coloured copies so it presumably wasn't offered for sale coloured; I did find a record of a copy, also bound by Root, with the plates in two states - what these states were wasn't explained.


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de CHABRILLAN, Celeste. Les Voleurs d'Or. Paris, Levy 1857. Octavo contemporary cloth backed mottled boards. Expected browning and spotting, a pretty good copy. Au$1750

First edition, and rare, of this pioneer thriller of the Australian gold fields by the former prostitute, dancer and toast of Paris, now wife of the French Consul in Melbourne. Like who knows how many women writers of the 19th century, Celeste took to novels and plays, starting with this, to climb out of a poverty pit dug by a malevolent or feckless husband. In her case, her blacksheep noble husband - the comte de Chabrillan - was feckless, careless enough to die in Melbourne in 1858.


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LANG, John. Botany Bay. London, William Tegg 1859. Octavo publisher's orange cloth printed in black (rather grubby and faded, spine shabby but solid). Definitely second hand and still most acceptable. With John Lane Mullins' gift bookplate to St Sophia's Library. The cover is dated 1860 as is Mitchell's copy. Au$850

First edition of Lang's maybe most reprinted and best regarded book. "Thinly veiled" is the usual description for fiction that might be an insult to some readers so Lang's preface begs the pardon of his Australian audience for words unrelated to this book that saw him unpopular before his departure and assures us that he does not intend to be "sarcastic or insulting" in this book.
An old clipping claims that the same folk who bought up every copy they could of Mudie's Felonry of New South Wales and destroyed unacceptable pages did the same with this, making complete copies rare. As the first story isn't really true there's no reason to believe the second. I can't find any record of mutilated copies of this but I can't find many copies at all. Trove finds four locations and Worldcat adds the four standard libraries of Britain.


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McLEVY [M'LEVY], James [and Alfred Crowquill]. Romances of Crime; or, The Disclosures of a Detective. Glasgow & London, Cameron and Ferguson [c1860?] Octavo; xvi,304pp. Bound after Alfred Crowquill's 'A Bundle of Crowquills' (London, Routledge 1854) in contemporary half morocco; illustrations in the Crowquill. The Crowquill is browned but the McLevy is quite good; both are bound without half titles. Au$750

Rare. The Edinburgh detective McLevy has been rediscovered in recent years - with reprints and new fictional cases - but the original editions remain obscure. Of the five titles of his adventures that appeared through the sixties, that I can trace, I suspect that at least one is a new edition of this book; and I'm pretty sure that this is the first of his books - judging by the editor's preface.
Whether McLevy or a ghostwriter actually penned these, each adventure is short, pithy and carries a catchy title: The Conjuror; The Handcuffs; The Belfast Key; The Dead Child's Leg; The Blood-Stained Moleskin; ... In each the unfailing McLevy usually solves the case in less than a dozen pages.


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COLLINS, Wilkie. The Woman in White. Leipzig, Tauchnitz 1860. Two volumes small octavo contemporary half gilt calf monogrammed with 'W.G.T'. (who is?). Minor signs of use; a handsome pair. Au$225

I have seen the suggestion that the Tauchnitz edition of the Woman in White is actually the first edition, set from earlier proofs than the English and American editions. Sounds cogent and convincing to me. At this moment.


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[RYMER, James Malcolm]. The Dark Woman; or, the Days of the Prince Regent. London, John Dicks 1861-62. Two volumes largish octavo half gilt calf; 104 wood engravings after Gilbert, Sargent and Standfast. Au$1850

Rare - any and all of Rymer's novels are rare - and an outstanding copy, made more so by being in a handsome contemporary binding of dark green half calf, spines satisfyingly rich with gilt and contrasting labels (the labels consign authorship to Errym, Rymer's most common pseudonym) - almost unknown on penny (or halfpenny) dreadfuls. On the endpapers is the inscription of John Gordon Edward Sibbald, 7th December 1866 and the bindings speak of a well-heeled reverence for what was a trashy thriller but the book itself is unthumbed. Perhaps Sibbald had another reading copy? It seems inconceivable that it was an unwanted gift.
According to Summers, The Dark Woman was issued in 104 weekly parts at a halfpenny each; in monthly parts at threepence (which seems dear) and as two volumes supplied with titles and contents on completion - as here. All are made up of the weekly parts.
One of Rymer's later novels, well after his successes of the forties like The Black Monk or Varney the Vampyre, but Rymer never ran short of thrilling deeds - dastardly, dare-devil or gruesome. Any page or two will exhaust the meek reader.


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GOODRICH, Henry Newton. Raven Rockstrow: or, the Pedlar's Dream. A romance of Melbourne. Melbourne, Caxton Repository 1864. Octavo later (earlyish-mid c20th) morocco; [8],7-258pp, (wood?) engraved frontispiece by Calvert after a drawing by John Fallon. Name and a couple of extraneous squirls on the title, some browning; a pretty good copy with the bookplate of Harry Austin Brentnall, medico and bookmaker whose books used to be ubiquitous in the Sydney trade. Au$1150

Only edition of this quite rare sensation thriller, dubbed the first Melbourne novel proper. Certainly it's a grim metropolitan book set in the slums where life revolves around the pawn shop. From two brief paragraphs I picked out these descriptions of Goodrich's Melbourne: dreary, isolation, misery, oppressive, ghostly waste, and forlorn. Blackmail, murder, a story within a story; it's all here.
This has one of the most captivating illustrations I've seen in a thriller. The frontispiece, on pink paper, is a dark, dark engraving that demands close inspection; maybe the best depiction of what mysterious deeds in the dark of night really look like. The binding is neat and workmanlike more than inspired. Most of the twentieth century was not a good period for Australian binding.


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LAFITTE, J.P. [Jean Baptiste Pierre]. The Red Doctor. Translated from the French ... by Huon d'Aramis. Philadelphia, Lippincott 1866. Octavo publishers patterned cloth. Some natural browning and some splodges; a rather good copy. Au$275

First edition in English of this proper sensation novel. It begins with a "frantic and horrible" murder and impersonation in chapter one and picks up speed after that. It is a novel about Mesmer of course, what else could it be after that introduction. The best description is a contemporary review found by Robert Eldridge: "This singular farrago of mystery, murder, and mesmerism belongs to the sensation school of modern French fiction ... it contains an abundance of highly-wrought and exciting passages, which, in spite of their violation of truth, probability, or even possibility, absorb the reader’s attention until, to his surprise, he finds himself at the very last page." (The Nation, Sept 20 1866). Huon d'Aramis, translator of at least one other French book, must be a pseudonym but whose I don't know.


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DICKENS, Charles & Wilkie COLLINS. No Thoroughfare .. being the extra Christmas number of All the Year Round ..; London, Christmas 1867. Octavo publisher's printed blue wrapper (an inoffensive erasure from the front cover, small flaw to the edge of the back cover); 48pp. A few spots and signs of use but quite a good copy. Au$100

First edition of this compact thriller.


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HAZELTON, Harry. The Trail of Blood. A tale of New York. [bound with] Life Among the Red Indians. An Indian Romance. Glasgow, John S. Marr & Sons [c1870?]. Two volumes octavo together in contemporary quarter straight grain calf and cloth; 115 & 127pp. Some light browning but rather good. Au$250

Rare Glasgow editions of rare enough dime novels; John S. Marr & Sons published cheap popular stuff between about 1865 and 1885. The more interesting is of course 'The Trail of Blood'. OCLC lists a New York published edition copyrighted 1866 but can't find a copy in any library. Neither can I in any of the expected libraries. This Glasgow edition is unfound anywhere I can think of looking.
Cambridge University has a John S Marr printing of another Hazelton title (they date 1867) and tells us George Savage wrote as Harry Hazelton but no-one called George Savage would change that name to write cheap thrillers. Harry Hazelton was a Beadle house name usually applied to westerns and wilderness titles; it's a surprise to find it on a contemporary tale of turmoil, intrigue and murder set among the well to do of New York.


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COLLINS, Wilkie. Man and Wife. A novel. Leipzig, Tauchnitz 1870. Three volumes small octavo bound in two (the first two are paired), contemporary quarter black morocco. Some natural browning of the paper but attractive copies with the prominent and fitting stamps of The English Library, Nancy on each title. Au$125


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BROOKS, Detective James J. Whiskey Drips. A series of interesting sketches illustrating the operations of the whiskey thieves in their evasion of the law ... to which is added, a circumstantial account of his attempted murder by the Philadelphia Whiskey Ring ... the only authenticated instance of hired assassins in the United States. Philadelphia, Evans [1873]. Octavo publisher's decorated brown cloth blocked in gilt and black (spine tips worn); 349,[3]pp and four wood engraved plates. Inner front hinge cracked but firm. Au$120

First edition, it was reprinted or re-issued in 1876 with the duller title 'The Adventures of a United States Detective'. Quite uncommon, unlikely as it seems for this type of American book of this period. Usually there are plenty of shabby copies of such books around. Unlike many of these true stories Detective Brooks did exist, he was famous for his Whiskey Ring exploits. He became head of the American Secret Service and died in 1895 of heart trouble - apparently exacerbated by having a bullet imbedded in it for 16 years. Whether or not he wrote this it is pacy and readable and as much of his investigations involved corruption within the service as illicit distilling.


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LAWSON, Captain J.A. Wanderings in New Guinea. London, Chapman & Hall 1875. Octavo very good in a commercial red cloth prize binding decorated in gilt and black; tinted litho frontispiece and a folding map. A bright copy, interesting as an example of the school prize industry. This has a large colourful prize plate - dated 1883 - inside the front cover printed by the London Scholastic Co. who may well have been one of the companies that made their business buying up unsold sheets of books and preparing them for prizes. In this case the binding is attractive enough, if anodyne, and the edges, untrimmed when originally issued by the publishers, have been trimmed and gilded all round. Au$300

Only edition. Like many of the best travel books, completely - from this distance ridiculously - imaginary, it sparked a fair few tight-lipped letters to the editor from both sides of the fact-fiction divide. Even Moresby, in the appendix to his book, printed a long and detailed letter to the Athenaeum refuting many claims made by Lawson. Given the furor it is surprising that not only did the book never reach a second edition but sheets were sold off as remainders. This may say something about embarrassment at Chapman and Hall.
The authorship of this has occupied generations of bibliographers; it has been ascribed to Lieut. Robert Henry Armit - plausible until we consider the other books associated with Lawson - and Ingleton advanced the cause of Lieut. Dawson who accompanied Moresby to New Guinea and wrote this as an act of revenge, though how it's vengeful is not clear. Captain Lawson was the author of at least one more book - The Wandering Naturalists (1880) - where he also claimed authorship of Travel and Sport in Burmah which seems to be the book that appeared as written by John Bradley in 1876. The Library of Congress links the two authors, confidently gives Lawson the christian name John and suggests that Bradley is the pseudonym. Carrying on we find that Travel and Sport in Burmah has been attributed to James Anthony Lawson by Cushing and to Captain John A. Lawson by Kirk. Here is where I'm ready to give up.


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THOMAS, Edward A. At Swords' Point. A novel. Philadelphia, Claxton &c, 1877. Octavo publisher's green cloth. A bit of browning at the ends, minor signs of use; a rather good copy. Au$250

First edition of this scarce thriller that begins with a desperate chase and gets complicated soon. A villain is accused of murder and our hero, a young lawyer, is happy to prosecute him ... until he looks at the evidence.


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EVANS, Samuel. The Yarra Bend and Other Poems and Verses. Melbourne, printed for the author 1877. Small 8vo publisher's cloth (rubbed); xii,116pp. Au$225

Only edition. As with almost all colonial verse we have to look beyond the poetic qualities for interest and here, for a change, we find some. The Yarra Bend is the site of the lunatic asylum (is this the origin of the phrase ‘around the bend'?) a focal point in this crazed melodrama of eloped lovers, a test of constancy gone wrong, captivity by bandits, the care of the mad, a happy denouement and a final puzzling suicide. Mr Evans seems to have exhausted his muse with this; I find no evidence that he published anything else.


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ALDRICH, T.B. The Stillwater Tragedy. Boston, Houghton Mifflin 1880. Octavo, excellent in publisher's brown cloth blocked in gilt, red and black. Au$175

First edition; classic detective fiction and an anti-labour novel, with a murdered corpse at the end of the first chapter and an unjustly suspected hero standing up to thuggish strike leaders. While barely inflammatory - the author and printer did not, after all, have to go into hiding - this novel did stir up more conversation than usual amongst his readers. His readers can't have been expected to take much exception to it: Twain wrote to Aldrich that he had enjoyed reading it in the notorious periodical of Howells and that Mrs Clemens was looking forward to it between baby feeds. The connections between Aldrich and the extreme anti-labor literature of the late 19th century are not hard to trace.


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Ned Nimble Amongst the Bushrangers of Australia. London, Edwin J. Brett [188-?]. Two volumes large octavo, bound together in a modern wrapper with a copy of a cover mounted; original illustrated wrappers bound in. 276pp, 23 full page illustrations. Some repairs and splodges to the wrappers; natural browning of the paper in the first volume; still, rather good. Au$1250

Ned Nimble's Australian romp appeared in the 'Boys of England' in 1882 and in parts and collected editions in two versions. This is the first, coming out of the Boys of England offices. The other comes out of Harkaway House, a name change made in the early nineties. The second version came in, I think, 17 weekly parts adding up to 264 pages. The wrappers are sensibly recycled with part numbers and price at the top (parts 28 and 30, price 4d) and volume numbers and new price stamped at the bottom (Nimble Series Vol 9 and 10; price one shilling). And the volumes are recycled from unsold parts with the original stab marks visible. I don't get how they could have spun this out to 30 parts, there are clearly 23. Trove finds two copies of the second version and one of this. But the covers of that one have different Nimble series volume numbers. Confused? Bored?


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Kate Temple? The Fair Mystery. By the author of "Strangely Parted," &c., &c. London, Edwin J. Brett [188-?]. Largish octavo publisher's colour illustrated boards (spine quite chipped and apparently sometime repaired); two colour wood engraved plates, full page wood engraved illustrations. A very decent copy. Au$475

The book edition of a work first issued in parts. Hubin attributes this to Charlotte M. Braeme or Brame while the British Library attributes 'Strangely Parted' to Kate Temple and dates it 1885. I think we can discount the Brame (aka Bertha M. Clay) attribution which is based on perhaps a confusion with her novel 'A Fair Mystery' - a different book altogether. Kate Temple also becomes suspect when we find no other title under that name. A fabulously ripe sensation thriller, it's hard to choose a representative passage. There are so many on almost every page.
Copac and OCLC find two copies of The Fair Mystery: in the BL, apparently in parts, and in Canberra at the ANU, apparently this book issue.


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WILKINS, W.A. The Cleverdale Mystery; or, the machine and its wheels. NY, Fords, Howard & Hulbert 1882. Octavo, very good in publisher's illustrated brown cloth blocked in black and gilt. Au$150

First (only?) edition of this melodramatic thriller of politics, murder and dastardly deeds set in the sub-Adirondack playground of Lake George. Wilkins, editor of the local Whitehall Times, also published a play of this in the same year.


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Kyokutei Bakin. [sometimes called Takizawa Bakin]. Yoshitoshi. [Muso byoe kocho monogatari - A Dreamer's Butterfly Tale]. Tokyo, Haishi Shuppansha 1882 [Meiji 15]. Two volumes 225x155mm, publisher's embossed yellow wrappers; a half-page, ten double page and five full page woodcut illustrations by Yoshitoshi. A tiny bit of nibbling to a couple of page edges, a good fresh copy. Au$450

Bakin's imaginary voyage fantasia was first published in 1809-10 and this is, I deduce, the second edition, revised or corrected from Bakin's own copy of the first edition; the first with Yoshitoshi's illustrations. Further editions followed thick and fast but apart from a partial translation in The Chrysanthemum (Yokohama 1882) I can't find an English version exists - particularly frustrating as Yoshitoshi's illustrations are magnetic. The surreal and grotesque are always hard to resist - and Yoshitoshi was a master among masters - and I don't think I've ever seen a better illustration, a better description, of the world of an opium smoker.
The best account of the book I've found is in a 1909 letter from Minakata Kumagusu to the publisher Gowans & Gray who had approached him for a translation of a Bakin work of his choice. He chose this, "the only book that ever took me out of bed 30 minutes sooner than I wished to get up", and described it as something like Gulliver's Travels in which a man, decided there is nothing more to learn in his own land, determines to travel the world. He is told the means - a kite - in a vision and sets off to explore the lands of Infancy, Lust (high, medium and low grades), Drunkenness, Greed, Trouble, Sorrows, Falsehood and Happiness. Unfortunately Gowan & Gray wouldn't spring for Kumagusu's fee and that was the end of that. At least we have Yoshitoshi.


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