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Black Dog Rare Books


Steven de Joode

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Unusual hand-picked books and ephemera from four centuries.

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Weberstraat , Amersfoort, Utrecht, 3815 VC, Netherlands

More about this bookseller

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.

Featured Items

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.


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).


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.


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.



All items have been collated and are complete and in good condition, unless otherwise stated. Care has been taken in noting flaws. All items are offered subject to prior sale, and remain the property of Black Dog Rare Books until payment has been received in full. Prices, stated in Euro’s are net, but do not include shipping. Free shipping for orders above € 500.

Payment Conditions
We accept Paypal, Ideal, bank transfers, and all major Credit Cards. Costs involved in international bank transfers are for full account of the buyer.

Return policy
If a buyer is not satisfied for any reason he may return an item for a full refund of the purchase price, provided it is sent back within ten (10) days at the expense of the buyer, properly wrapped, fully insured and returned in the same condition as when received by the buyer.
If you wish to return an item, please follow these instructions:

Phone or email us a message that you plan to return an item purchased. While it is not required that you give us a reason for the return, we always appreciate an explanation.

Returned items should be properly secured and packed before shipping.

Returned items should be shipped back through registered mail or by courier in the same condition as when the item left the webshop and adequately insured.

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