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Black Dog Rare Books

Unusual hand-picked books and ephemera from four centuries.


Steven de Joode





Weberstraat , Amersfoort, Utrecht, 3815 VC, Netherlands

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Dedicated to the weird and wonderful, Black Dog Rare Books was established in December 2018 by Steven de Joode. Based in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, we offer quirky, unusual, interesting and rare books and ephemera from four centuries.


Steven has a BA (Hons.) in German and an MA (Hons.) in Book and Manuscript Studies (University of Amsterdam). Having worked as a bibliographer at the National Library of the Netherlands and as a cataloguer and dealer at Antiquariaat Forum, Steven has broad experience in the world of rare books. Our clients include libraries, museums, private collectors and fellow members of the trade.

As a teenager I was a voracious reader. But reading books by my favourite authors wasn’t enough: I wanted to own them. So I started to collect first editions. This quickly developed into a keen interest in typography and book history. So it was only natural that I decided to study German literature (BA, hons.) and subsequently Book history (MA, hons.), cataloguing rare books on the side. After graduating from university I worked for the National Library of the Netherlands, cataloguing books for the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands.


The next five years I spent with Antiquariaat Forum. Here I did descriptive cataloguing of pre-1850 books, maps, prints and manuscripts, I built and maintained customer relationships, valued, bought and sold rare and valuable books, arranged shipments for international book fairs (including the application for export licenses) and attended (international) book fairs.


Having handled rare books in a wide variety of fields, ranging from beautiful colour plate books to important and valuable travel accounts, I developed an eclectic taste in books. However, I try to seek out the quirky and the uncommon, be it circus sideshow pitch books, pamphlets on prostitution, true crime, or homosexuality, 18th-century treatises on syphilis, medical works on monstrosities, or 16th-centuries manuals on astrology.






Large micrographic mizrah plaque by Levi(e) David van Gelder, ca. 1846

Levi David van GELDER. [Micrographic Mizrah plaque]. Amsterdam, [ca. 1845]. 76 x 60,5 cm. Lithograph, printed on heavy, watermarked paper stock (76 x 60,5 cm), signed (in the stone) below the image: "met de pen vervaardigt door LDvG Amsterdam". A horizontal fold, some marginal stains and tears (several repaired at the back), browned, most notably on the four corners, still overall in good condition.

A large and stunning micrographic mizrah plague by famed Jewish artist, lithographer and printer Levi David van Gelder (1815-1878).

In the early 1840's Van Gelder probably lived in Veendam, settling in Amsterdam in circa 1845. In Amsterdam he worked as printer and lithographer, and during this period he produced his earliest striking mizrahs. In 1853 he moved to England, eventually emigrating to the USA, settling in Chicago in 1864, where he was also active as a Freemason.

Van Gelder produced several complex micrographic mizrahs, meant to be hung on the eastern wall of a home or synagogue to indicate the direction of prayer: "mizrah" is the Hebrew word for "east". The present mizrah beautifully interweaves texts in Dutch (from the Rosh Hashanah Liturgy) with rich biblical imagery and a lovely zodiac circling around a central opened book. It is an impressive example of the Jewish micrographic tradition, which dates back to the ninth century and uses minute lettering to form figurative designs.

In 2018 Van Gelder's work featured in the New York exhibition The Edge of Visibility. Curator Susan Tallman aptly described Van Gelder's art as follows: "His compositions packed illustrative medallions in and around ornamental text, large and miniscule, sometimes further elaborated with collaged materials in color—a singular melding of 19th-century commercial design, religious tradition, and intuitive horror vacui".

Collection Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, M001755; cf. Avrin, Micrography as Art, pp. Tallman, 'Edge of visibility', in: Art in Print Volume 8 (2018), Number 3.



The official 1901 guide in Dutch of the famous Barnum & Bailey circus

Clarence L. DEAN. Officieele gids. Het Boek der Wonderen in Barnum en Bailey's grootste Bezienswaardigheid op Aarde. Met uitvoerige beschrijvingen der Wondermenschen en zeldzame dieren. Barnum & Bailey (printed in Vienna by J. Weiner), 1901. (25,5 x 18,5 cm). 44 pp. With a plan and many other illustrations in the text. Stapled in original coloured wrappers (the back wrapper being a voucher for a tube of toothpaste!). In very good condition, with the wrappers only very lightly soiled and dog-eared.

The wonderful official guide, in Dutch, of Barnum & Bailey's 1901 European tour, in vibrant original wrappers.

The circus toured the Netherlands in 1901, starting with Groningen on August 31. In September the show visited another 11 cities in The Netherlands, including Leeuwarden, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam. This guide shows the menagerie with elephants, tigers, kangaroos, zebras, hippos, tapirs and many other exotic animals. Perhaps even more intriguing are the 'human wonders': the sideshow performers or 'freaks'. The performers portrayed include Jo-Jo 'the Dog-Faced-Man', Annie Jones 'the bearded child', Charles B. Tripp 'the armless wonder' (a skilled calligrapher!), heavily tattooed Frank Howard, the albino Rob Roy, a sword-swallower and several others.

Circus-bibliotheek Hartmans 596; for Barnum & Bailey's 1901/1902 tour, see Circus Historical Society.



Unique(?) poster advertising the auction sale of 1,300,000 Havana cigars, 1838

In Amsterdam, anno 1838. J.G. Harmsen, A.M. Hofstee [...] Makelaars. Als lasthebbende van hunne Meesters, presenteeren, ten overstaan van den Deurwaarder B.D. Beets, aan den meestbiedenden te verkoopen: Eene Partij van Ca. 1,300,000 Havana Sigaren. Amsterdam, I. Ellerman, 1838. Broadside (46,5 x 27 cm). Browned, two faint duty stamps ("Buitengewoon Zegel Noord Holland / 2[?] 1/2 C." and "Koninkrijk der Nederlanden / Buiten Gewoon te Zeggelen"), a small hole, two pinholes in the upper corners, otherwise in very good condition.

Extremely rare (unique?) poster advertising the auction sale of 1,300,000 Havana cigars in Amsterdam at the "Brakke Grond", November 27, 1838.

"De Brakke Grond" was originally an inn, located on the Nes, a street in central Amsterdam. Auctions were regularly held in the Inn from 1648 onwards and it played an important role in the sale of goods from the Dutch East and West Indies such as tobacco, tea, cofee and sugar.

Cf. Willem Elias et al. Van Brakke Grond tot Vlaams Cultureel Centrum (Amsterdam, 1992).



Spinozistic work published by Aart Wolsgrein in 1693, banned in 1708

Berend HAKVOORD. De schole van Christus, behelzende zes en zestig lessen [...] In dezen derden druk, van den auteur zelfs vermeerderd [...]. Amsterdam, Aart Wolsgrein, 1693. 8vo. [12], 440, [20] pp. With engraved frontispiece (dated 1692). Contemporary vellum. Bookplate (designed by Anton Pieck) on pastedown. Frontispiece with a few stains, a few dog ears. In very good condition.

A Spinozistic work with the outward shape of a reformed catechism, officially banned by the States of Overijssel in 1708.

Hakvoord was a Zwolle cantor, cathechist, publisher and author, who, in 1703, published Van Leenhof's scandalous Den hemel op aarden, a treatise on earthly happiness strongly influenced by Spinoza that was banned by the States of Friesland and Overijssel in 1706. The first edition of De schole van Christus was probably published between 1685 and 1689. The present third edition appeared by Aart Wolsgrein, known for publishing heretical works. It was enlarged with several passages that were literally taken from Spinoza's outlawed work; the third image shows an almost literal translation of Spinoza's definitions of 'free' and 'dependent' (Ethics, part 1, definition 7):

“And I call free which necessarily exists by its own nature, and is determined to act solely by itself; but I call forced or unfree which is determined to be or to act in a certain way by something else. From this it necessarily follows that our will is not free but infinitely determined, since God is the cause of its essence and existence and determines it to act or will in this or that manner. Because all there is, is in God; it is governed by Him and cannot be conceived without Him (Acts 17:28, Rom. 11: 36)”

Several other editions would appear before the authorities noticed Hakvoord's spinozism and took action against him: it was only in 1708 that his catechism was officially banned.

This copy comes from the library of Fritz Michael Meyer (1902-1991), a German-born Jewish industrial and book collector. According to the International Institute of Social History he was one of the founders of boxing club Makkabi, established to give Jews the means to defend themselves against antisemitic attacks. After the Nazis' rise to power Meyer fled to Amstelveen and founded a knitwear factory in Amsterdam. During the war his factory was liquidated by the Nazis and Meyer was forced to go into hiding. After the war Meyer, together with his wife Meta Daniel, rebuilt his business and amassed an impressive library.

De Joode, 'Duister en met rede verdacht', no. 3 (4 copies, including this copy); STCN (1 copy, also listed by De Joode); cf. Israel, Radical Enlightenment, pp. Wielema, The March of the Libertines, pp. 92-94; for Meyer: IISH.



An 1873 manual to cure stuttering

Eduard GÜNTHER. Praktische Anleitung zur vollständigen Heilung des Stotterns für Eltern und Lehrer sowie zum Selbstgebrauch. von Ed. Günther, Hauptlehrer der Taubstummen-Anstalt zu Neuwied. Neuwied & Leipzig, Druck und Verlag der J.H. Heuser'schen Buchhandlung, 1873. 22,5 x 15,5 cm. [2], X, 127, [1] pp. Original printed boards (the back with a publisher's stocklist). Paper browned, boards with some wear, otherwise in very good condition.

First edition of a German manual to cure stuttering, by an author who established an institute for deaf-mutes in Neuwied (Germany) in 1854.

The first two pages include favourable reviews of Günther's method, then follow a brief preface and 50 exercises in a fascinating design that resembles avant-garde poetry of the interbellum. The manual was apparently rather successful: it was reprinted in 1888 and 1893; this first edition, though, is surprisingly rare.

WorldCat (2 copies).



A 1598 edition of Lemnius's Secrect miracle of nature

Levinus LEMNIUS. De Miraculis occultis naturae, Libri IIII, item De Vita cum Animi et Corporis Incolumitate recte instituenda, liber unus. Francofurti, Ex Officina Paltheniana, sumtibus heredum Petri Fischeri, 1598. 16mo (12 x 8,3 cm). [16], 582, [56] pp. Recent period-style limp coarse grained cream coloured paper boards. Paper browned, leaf 2I3 with a small hole. Signature in ink on title-page and the date "1808", deaccession stamp on back of the title-page, 17th-century annotations on recto of rear endpaper.

A rare edition of Lemnius's most influential work, The secret miracle of nature.

Lemnius (1505 – 1568) was a Dutch physician and author who studied medicine under Rembert Dodoens, Konrad Gesner and Vesalius. He practised in Zierikzee (Zeeland) from 1527 onward. Devoted to and beloved by his patients, he courageously catered to both their physical and spiritual needs during several outbreaks of the plague.

He authored several medical books, the most influential being the present De Miraculis occultis naturae (The secret miracles of nature). First published in 1559 it went through numerous editions and was translated into several vernacular languages. Among the topics discussed are balneology, teratology, psychiatry and precious stones.

”It is a most heterogeneous collection, heterogeneously piled together, of notions on physiological, physical, medical, religious, and moral topics, with attempts to explain phenomena in nature which subsequent enquiry has shown do not exist at all. The collection is a very curious one, notwithstanding, and furnishes good instances of popular ideas about natural things current three hundred years ago” (Ferguson).

Durling, A catalogue of sixteenth century printed books in the National Library of Medicine, 2776; Van Hoorn, Lemnius, 306; VD16 ZV 16010 (5 copies); for the author: NNBW 8, 1027-28; cf. Ferguson, Bibliographical Notes on Histories of Inventions and Books of Secrets vol. I. p. 10.



An engraved portrait of celebrated Dutch dwarf Simon Paap, 1823

Simon Paap. The Celebrated Dutch Dwarf. London, J. Robins & Co. Albion Press, 1 May 1823. Stipple-engraved portrait. 27,2 x 20,9 (plate size: ca. 21 x 14 cm). Evenly browned, some smudges and faint creases, the back with some biographical notes on Paap in pencil, otherwise in good condition.

A wonderful portrait of Simon Paap (1789-1828), a famed Dutch dwarf who visited England in 1815, 1816 and 1818.

The portrait shows Paap in full-length standing in a room with a pipe in his left hand, his tall hat in the other. It was published in Cooper's rare collection of extraordinary people, Fifty Wonderful Portraits (1824).

Paap was born in Zandvoort, a small town on the Dutch coast. After the age of four he ceased to grow, reaching a height of a mere 76 cm. According to contemporaries he was handsome and well-proportioned, although his head was rather large for his size.

He exhibited himself publicly at fairs in The Netherlands, to critical acclaim. In 1809 he was received by Louis Napoleon, King of Holland. and, after the defeat of the French in 1814, he performed for Wilhelmina of Prussia. This paved the way for international fame: the following year Paap crossed the English Channel, visiting Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden Theatre, and Nottingham. In 1815 he returned to London, and in 1818 he visited Oxford.

After his return his fame slowly declined, leading to his tragic death in 1828. At a fair in Dendermonde (Belgium) fairgoers tossed him into the air, but, being drunk, they failed to catch him, letting Paap smash to the ground. Mortally wounded, he died that same day; he was buried in the reformed church of Zandvoort.

Some years later, however, rumours spread about the disappearance of Paap's body. When his grave was opened the rumours proved true: his body had been replaced by that of a six-year old. And, as it later turned out, Paap's skeleton had ended up in a private collection of anatomical specimens. It was eventually sold at auction; the present whereabouts of Paap's remains are unknown.

Cf. Sliggers, De tentoongestelde mens, pp. 78-80; Wood, Giants and Dwarfs, pp. 380-383.



Important account of the Atacama Desert with folding map and 27 plates

Rudolph Amandus PHILIPPI. Reise durch die Wueste Atacama auf Befehl der chilenischen Regierung im Sommer 1853-54 unternommen und beschrieben. Halle Eduard Anton, 1860. 33,5 x 26,5 cm. 2 parts in 1 volume. IX, [1], 192, 62 pp. With folding map and 27 tinted/coloured lithographed plates (2 folding). Original publisher's boards. Foxed throughout, more severely on the tinted plates. The boards slightly damaged, corners bumped, the spine with a dent.

First edition of an account of an important scientific expedition to the Atacama Desert on the Pacific coast of South America, prompted by the Chilean government.

German-born author Philippi (1808-1904) was professor of botany and zoology and director of the Museo Nacional in Santiago. His matter-of-fact account — “es enthält fast nichts als nüchterne Thatsachen” — details the geography, natural resources, climate, as well as the flora and fauna of the Atacama Desert, which was still largely unknown in the 1850’s.

Philippi describes several new species of animals, including Helocephalus nigriceps, a lizard currently known as Liolaemus nigriceps. The second part is devoted to the flora of the desert and was also published separately. The plates, finally, include tinted views, plates of fossils, plants and seven hand-coloured lithographs of mammals, birds, lizards and mollusks.

Sabin 62452; Stafleu & Cowan, Taxonomic literature, 7850; for the author: NDB 20 (2001), pp 391-392 (Online-Version).



1909 description of the brain of Charles Babbage, father of the computer

Victor HORSLEY. Description of the Brain of Mr. Charles Babbage, F.R.S. (Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons). Offprinted from: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Vol. 200, pp. 117-131 [plates 9-13]. London, Royal Society of London, 1909. 29,9 x 22,7 cm.With 5 photographic plates. Original printed wrappers. The wrappers frayed and damaged, lower right hand corners of some leaves damaged, plates with a very faint marginal stain, last two plates frayed, spine damaged, upper cover with an annotation and a stamp of the Herseninstituut Amsterdam.

"The brain of Mr. Babbage is worthy of record as presenting evidence on:--
(1) The neurological value of symmetry as a feature of cerebral growth in an individual of high intellectual ability;
(2) The relative development of the areas of representation of locutory and graphic functions in contrast to sensorial representation."

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was a pioneer in computer science. He designed a so-called Difference Engine, "a special-purpose digital computing machine for the automatic production of mathematical tables (such as logarithm tables, tide tables, and astronomical tables)" (SEP). Babbage built only a small working model and never completed the full-scale machine. In 1990 the machine was finally built from Babbage original designs. He also designed a considerably more ambitious machine, the Analytical Engine, a model of which was under construction at the time of his death.

After his death the two halves of his brain were separated. Today one half is preserved at the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons in London, while the other half is on display in the Science Museum, London.

Cf: Copeland, 'The Modern History of Computing', in: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online)



Diploma of Doctor of Medicine for Wilhelmus Noortwyk, Leiden University, 1735

Wilhelmus NOORTWYK. [Diploma of Doctor of Medicine for Wilhelmus Noortwyk]. Leiden University, May 31, 1735. Manuscript on vellum, 65 x 30 cm, complete with large red lacquer seal (held in an iron container), attached to the document with a silk ribbon. Signed by the University's Secretary Jacobus Wittichius, the physicians H. Boerhaave ("decanus, & promotor"), B.S. Albinus and A. van Royen. Further with the signature of J.O. Westenberg, rector of Leiden University. Folded thrice. Waterstained along the left vertical fold and the right outer edge, leaving the text still legible. Overall in good condition.

The original manuscript diploma of Doctor of Medicine for Wilhelmus Noortwyk (ca. 1713-1777), important Leiden anatomist. Signed by three leading physicians of the 18th century: Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), Bernhard Siegfried Albinus (1697-1770), and Adrianus van Royen (1704-1779).

Wilhelmus Noortwyk matriculated at Leiden University on November 19, 1729, aged 18. He graduated M.D. on May 31, 1735, with a dissertation titled De natura humana, published in Leiden by Gerard Potvliet. He was a student of the great anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus, renowned for his impressive preparations. In 1743 Noortwyk published a significant work on the anatomy of the gravid uterus. For it he investigated the corpse of a young woman who died at six months gestation, and Noortwyk "apparently was the first to inject the uterine vessels of a young woman who had died near term" (Longo & Reynolds).

Cf. Lindeboom, Dutch Medical Biography, cc. 1437-1438; Longo & Reynolds, Wombs with a View, p. 124.



Les jumeaux Chinois Célèbres: unique pitch card of Chinese conjoined twins, 1901

Les jumeaux Chinois Célèbres. [The Netherlands or Belgium?], [1901]. Pitch card (15 x 22 cm) with portrait and brief biography in French, on heavy card stock, text and image repeated at the back. Together with two bills in French and Dutch (29 x 23):

Photographie et Biographie des célèbres Jumeaux Chinois. Prix 10 Centimes; and:

Photographie en levensbeschrijving van de beroemde Chineesche tweelingen. Prijs 10 cents.

The Dutch bill with annotation at the top: "model van een uitvoering in Fransch 6 stuks", and in lower right hand corner: "6 stuks Fransch". Damaged at top and bottom, otherwise in good condition. The French bill with some insignificant damages along the edges. The pitch card, finally, with a few small dents, and the back with a bowed line running vertically, otherwise in very good condition.

A rare (unique?) pitch card with a biography and photographic portrait of Chinese conjoined twin brothers Liou-Tang-Sen (Liao-Toun-Chen, or Liu Tang San) and Liou-Seng-Sen (Liao-Sienne-Chen, or Liu Soon San), together with two bills advertising the pitchcard, one in French and one in Dutch.

The xiphopagus twin brothers were born in China on January 2, 1887. Twelve years later, on June 16, 1899, they embarked on a voyage to England, together with their father. There they joined the famous Barnum & Bailey circus, "The Greatest Show on Earth". With the circus they toured through England, crossing the Channel to Europe in 1901, where they visited Hungary, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium, spending the winter in Paris. The next year the circus toured France, crossing the ocean to America in the Spring of 1903.

In America the twins seem to have performed on their own. To avoid the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited immigration of Chinese laborers to America, the brothers presented themselves as "Corean". On February 24, 1903, The Boston Globe recorded a performance by the twins at Austin & Stone's. According to the newspaper they attracted "hundreds of visitors" who "went home satisfied that the Corean twin brothers, Liao-Toun-Chen and Liao-Sien-Ne-Chen [...] eclipse as a human wonder the famous Siamese twins".

The present pitch card (a proof?) was no doubt printed to be sold on one of the twins' shows in Belgium or the Netherlands. It portrays the brothers in Chinese wear; the image was most likely taken from a photo by Edena Studios.

Chapot-Prévot, Chirurgie des tératopages. Opération de Maria-Rosalina. Observation d'un nouveau xiphopage, les frères chinois, Paris, 1901, pp. 37-64; Vaschide & Vurpas, 'La vie biologique d'un xiphopage' in: Nouvelle Iconographie De La Salpêtrière Tome XX (1902), pp. 247-264; for Barnum & Bailey's 1901/1902 tour, see Circus Historical Society.



Anomalies in both humans and animals, finely illustrated with seven impressive plates

Wouter (Gualtherus) van DOEVEREN. Specimen observationum academicarum, ad monstrorum historiam [...] et artem obstetriciam, præcipue spectantium. Groningen, Jacob Bolt; Leiden, Samuel en Johannes Luchtmans, 1765 (colophon: ex typographia Boltiana). 4to (27,3 x 21 cm). [12], 298, [2] pp. With 7 numbered engravings on 5 folding leaves. Modern calf. Uncut and largely unopened. Title-page browned and spotted, with three stamps ("Ex Bibliotheca Academicae Rostochiensis"), spotting throughout, overall in good condition.

First and only edition of Van Doeveren’s masterpiece describing and depicting anomalies in both humans and animals, finely illustrated with seven impressive plates.

Wouter van Doeveren (1730-1783) studied medicine at Leiden University. In 1754 he was appointed professor of anatomy, surgery and obstetrics in Groningen and subsequently became professor of medicine in Groningen in 1770. He had a keen interest in teratology and owned a large collection of teratological specimens, several of which are now held at Leiden University.

Van Doeveren "was one of the first who attempted to build a systematic collection of teratological specimens, moving them from the ‘sphere of wonder and curiosity’ into the world of naturalization; as such, teratology became part of natural classifications and taxonomy. Additionally, this systematic approach led to a paradigm shift that placed the 'monstrous births' from a negative into a positive point of view" (Boer et al.).

Plate V shows a child with a severely malformed head with a cleft of the soft and hard palate, a case of so-called "faciocranioschisis". The engraving was made after a specimen in Van Doeveren’s collection, now part of the collection of the Anatomical Museum of Leiden University Medical Center.

Blake, p. 128; Waller 2512; Cf. Boer et al. 'History and highlights of the teratological collection in the Museum Anatomicum of Leiden University, The Netherlands', in: American journal of medical genetics. Part A vol. 176,3 (2018), pp. 618-637.




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