Wednesday, 5 April 2017


One of the strange things in the antiquarian book business is the vague sense of loss you feel when a very special book or catalogue that you have been offering for sale for quite some time is effectively sold. Booksellers with a more pragmatic turn of mind might remind you that was why you offered it in the first place, but nevertheless the awareness that the chances of ever coming across another copy are virtually none makes the sale a sort of mixed blessing.

Perhaps it would have been more logical to write about this extraordinary catalogue when I first acquired it, over a year ago, but now that it is about to be sent to its new owner in Paris, it would be a pity to let it go without presenting it to a larger audience first. I did my best to give a full description and together with the pictures it will speak for itself.


The International Surrealist Exhibition – New Burlington Gardens, London, 1936

The original catalogue, printed by The Women’s Printing Society, Ltd.

Pap., stapled, 24 x 14.5 cm, 31p. Text only. Cover by Max Ernst. Preface by AndrĂ© Breton (translated by David Gascoyne). List of participating artists. Introduction by Herbert Read.
Catalogue, including 392 nrs, including works by Arp, Bellmer, Brancusi, De Chirico, Dali , Duchamp, Ernst, Gascoyne, Giacometti, Klee, Magritte, Masson, Miro, Moore, Nash, Penrose, Picabia, Picasso, Man Ray, Tanguy, a.o. + Oceanian & African objects.
Overall in good condition, worn, but without serious damage. Cover discoloured. The previous owner has added some surrealist comments of his own. On the front cover he notes (with some changes and words crossed out) a comments that roughly reads:
‘this catalogue does not belong to [name unindentified]. But it doesn’t belong to anybody else either. It belongs to poached eggs in a bath with knobs on’ [my transcription, DS]
The catalogue part has some markings in pencil at particular numbers, and on the blank page ‘Addenda’  the note ‘Man Ray, A l’heure de l’observation’, suggesting that the note was contemporary.
The back of the cover shows  three caricature portraits, sadly unidentified, as is the artist.