Weiser Antiquarian Catalogue 35

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Some really good stuff here…

Weiser Antiquarian Books is pleased to announce the issue of the thirty-fifth of our on-line catalogs, which is another of our special lists on rare books, typescripts, and ephemera relating to Aleister Crowley. For the most part the material on offer has come from one collection, and a number of the items have previously passed through the hands of Weiser Antiquarian, thus affording our customers an unusual ‘second chance’ to acquire items that they missed out on when we first offered them for sale.
The catalog starts with an important bound typescript of Crowley’s Commentary on Liber AL Vel Legis, undated, but almost certainly from the 1930s. It was subsequently acquired by ‘Frater Zopiron’ (Gabriel Montenegro Vargas: 1907-1969), IX degree, O.T.O., who was the last initiate of the Agape Lodge of the O.T.O. in California. Zopiron added his Thelemically-inspired bookplate to it, and especially commissioned its handsome black cloth binding.

The second section of the catalog comprises a selection of rare, scarce and unusual books and ephemera by Crowley. Amongst the stand-out items are a signed and inscribed copy of the First separate UK edition of The Book Of The Law, London (1938). Despite it’s importance in his life Crowley was extremely reticent about signing copies of the work, and inscribed copies such as this are truly rare. A related work is Crowley’s The Equinox of the Gods (1936), which was The Beast’s first real attempt to do justice to The Book of the Law, and the injunctions it contained about its publication. The copy cataloged is a magnificent example of the First Printing of the First Edition, probably the finest copy we have seen. Another significant work is a First Edition of The Sword of Song (1904), the first book in which Crowley publicly identified himself as ‘The Beast,’ and a work described by Richard Kaczynski as ‘Crowley’s first great talismanic book.’ Other First Editions in the section include The Banned Lecture , The Book of Lies , Eight Lectures on Yoga , The Heart Of The Master, Magick Without Tears, and more.

The third section of the catalog comprises a small collection of material sent by Crowley and his associates to one Walter R. Hixenbaugh of Chicago. Hixenbaugh apparently contacted Crowley, then in Tunisia, in early 1926 with an enquiry about purchasing some of his books. Perhaps scenting money, Crowley responded fulsomely, sending him information about his then-current ‘World Teacher’ campaign, an original typescript of The Secret Conference, a short essay on the “mysterious Brotherhood” of occult initiates, the advent of The Book of the Law, and Crowley’s position as prophet. In addition to the typescript the collection comprises several incomplete letters from Crowley to Hixenbaugh, as well as typed, signed letters from Crowley’s American-based followers Karl Germer and Max Schneider.

The penultimate section is made up of First and Early editions of “Works Recommended for Study by Aleister Crowley.” It includes First Editions of William Stirling’s qabalistic treatise, The Canon (1897), and Ida Craddock’s posthumously published autobiographical book on sexual occultism Heavenly Bridegrooms, (1918), a work about which Crowley declared: “No Magick library is complete without it.” Another book that was highly influential in the development of sex-magick practices and that was recommended to his pupils in the A.’. A.’. by Crowley as “Invaluable to all students,” was Richard Payne Knight’s A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus, here represented by an attractive Privately Printed edition from 1865. The section concludes with a rare First English Edition of the classic mystical work by Michael De Molinos, The Spiritual Guide (1688). Crowley held this work by the chief apostle of the religious revival known as Quietism in such high esteem that he listed de Molinos as one of the ‘Saints’ of the O.T.O. Gnostic Mass, and recommended the ‘serious study’ of The Spiritual Guide as ‘a simple manual of Christian Mysticism.’

The catalog ends with a small collection of letters from Aleister Crowley to W. Dawson Sadler, and one from Crowley to Frieda Harris. Sadler was a conventional Freemason, with esoteric leanings, with whom Crowley was in regular contact from 1944 though 1946. He initially contacted Crowley about purchasing copies of The Book of Thoth, and an acquaintance developed. Crowley clearly regarded him as a potential candidate for membership in the O.T.O., and put considerable effort into answering his questions, etc., in their correspondence. Although not certain, it seems likely that Crowley initiated him into the Order during one of their meetings. A number of the letters are accompanied by their original envelopes, each resplendent with a large blob of wax, stamped with the impression of the cartouche of Ankh-f-n-khonsu from Crowley’s personal seal ring.

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