MARX, Karl, and Arnold RUGE [editors and contributors]. Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher … 1ste und 2te Lieferung [all published]. Paris, Bureau der Jahrbücher, 1844.
The extremely rare first and only issue, of enormous consequence: this double number contains the first appearance of both Marx’s first major work, Zur Kritik der Hegel’schen Rechtsphilosophie (containing his famous remark that religion is the opium of the people), and Engels’ first work on economics, Umrisse zu einer Kritik der Nationalökonomie, which was ‘of real importance in the formation of a distinctively Marxian stance towards political economy’ (The New Palgrave).
Marx ‘published two contributions in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher: an Introduction to a Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right, and a notice of two books which Bruno Bauer had published on the Jewish Question. Despite the different matter with which these two contributions deal, they are very closely connected in ideological content … The first gives a philosophic outline of the proletarian class struggle, whilst the second gives a philosophic outline of socialist history’ (Mehring, Karl Marx: The Story of his Life).
Lenin was later to write: ‘Marx’s articles in this journal showed that he was already a revolutionary, who advocated “merciless criticism of everything existing”, and in particular the “criticism by weapons”, and appealed to the masses and to the proletariat’ (The New Palgrave II, 144f).
Marx described Engel’s Umrisse as ‘a work of genius’ (Wheen, p. 75).
The Jahrbücher was first planned to be based in Strasbourg, but ultimately was published in Paris, the then centre of socialist thought. Around 1000 copies were published, 800 of which were subsequently confiscated by German police and very few survived. It appeared in February and its radicalism was immediately recognized; by April, the Prussian government had charged Marx with ‘high treason and lèse majesté’ due to his articles, and issued a warrant for his arrest should he enter Prussia.
POPPER, Josef. Das Recht zu leben und die Pflicht zu sterben. Socialphilosophische Betrachtungen, anknüpfend an die Bedeutung Voltaire’s für die neuere Zeit. Zu seinem 100. Todestage (30. Mai. 1878). Leipzig, Erich Koschny, 1878.
Presentation copy inscribed to his close friend, Ernst Mach, of the extremely rare first edition of this highly interesting and influential publication by Popper-Lynkeus, a man widely considered a genius.
‘As a scientist Popper was far ahead of his time. In 1862 he proposed a system for the electrical transmission of energy, but sent the monograph to the Vienna Academy of Sciences in a sealed letter to be opened 20 years later. He discussed the possible existence of quanta of energy before Max Planck enunciated the quantum theory; in 1884 he tried to relate matter and energy, 20 years before Einstein’s theory of relativity; and in 1888 discussed the possibility of lightweight steam engines for flying machines in a treatise, Flugtechnik (1889). In Phantasien eines Realisten (2 vols., 1899), suppressed by the Austrian government as “immoral,” he anticipated, as Freud himself acknowledged, the fundamental basis from which the latter elaborated his theory of dreams.
‘Popper was best known, however, for his writings on social reform. In his first work of this nature, Das Recht zu Leben und die Pflicht zu Sterben … (1878), he contrasted man’s natural right to live with the alleged obligation to sacrifice himself when required to do so by the state. He denied that man has a duty to let himself be killed when ordered and, in Die allgemeine Naehrpflicht als Loesung der sozialen Frage (1912), advocated the right of the individual to live in freedom and dignity within the framework of a social system created for the benefit of its members. Popper’s solution to social problems was the formation of a labor force (Naehrarmee) whose purpose was “producing or procuring all that physiology and hygiene show to be absolutely indispensable.” This was to be regarded as a minimum contribution by every member of society. Popper’s philosophy differed from Marxism, in that it was based on simple humanitarianism and common sense and endeavored to eliminate class hatred by a synthesis of socialism and realism. In trying to revive Voltaire’s philosophy, he advocated a policy which in fact became crystallized in the modern welfare state.
‘Popper regarded metaphysics, theology, and traditional religion as harmful, and to be eliminated from an economically and socially reformed state. He saw religion, especially Christianity, as opposed to genuine individual human values, and believed that education, especially about the history of religions, could lead to a superstition-free culture’ (Encyclopedia.com, online).
‘Among the admirers of Popper-Lynkeus were physicists Albert Einstein and Ernst Mach; philosophers Martin Buber and Hugo Bergmann, chemist Wilhelm Ostwald; mathematician Richard von Mises, statistician Karl Ballod (Kārlis Balodis); physiologist Theodor Baer; psychologist Sigmund Freud; writers Max Brod, Stefan Zweig, and Arthur Schnitzler; and the founder of the Zionist Revisionist movement, Ze’ev Jabotinsky’ (Wikipedia).
[POPE PIUS V, Saint]. Reformatione, e tassa delli pagamenti da farsi alli guardiani delle carceri, et essecutori. [Rome, Blado, 1566].
A highly interesting and very rare papal decree in the vernacular on Roman prison regulations, addressing corruption and extortion prevalent among wardens and captains, and prisoners’ rights.
With law and its application greatly differing throughout Italian states and provinces at the time, this bull provides rare contemporary insight into corruption within the judicial system, specifically the extortion of secret payments through prison wardens and their superiors, and gives official guidelines to both wardens and prisoners.
REINHARD, Adolph Friedrich von. Réflexions su la Liberté … Avec une Préface par M. Formey. Berlin, Haude and Spener, 1762.
Very rare first edition of this work on liberty by Adolph Friedrich von Reinhard, a highly acclaimed lawyer, and an author of apparent interest to Immanuel Kant who owned a copy of the contemporary German translation, as well as three of Reinhard’s other works.
'Dissatisfied with Wolffianism, [Reinhard] was attracted by the philosophy of Christian August Crusius. In 1755, his critical essay on Leibniz’s optimism won the prize essay contest of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres (Dissertation sur l’optimisme), which attracted some attention, for example from Jean Louis Samuel Formey who wrote a critical review in Nouvelle Bibliothèque Germanique (vol. 18, pp. 23-31).
'In Réflexionssur la Liberté (1762), Reinhard defends free will against fatalism and argues that there are certain restrictions on the freedom of will (e.g. that it is natural to will freely to choose the good)’ (Heiner F. Klemme and Manfred Kuehn, editors, The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century German Philosophers, pp. 618-619).
[WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig]. Original printed death notice. Vienna, May 4, 1951.
An exceptional memento: the announcement by Helene Salzer, born Wittgenstein, Margaret Stonborough, born Wittgentstein, and Paul Wittgenstein of their brother’s death in Cambridge, England, six days earlier, on April 29, 1951, and his burial on May 1.
Three of Ludwig’s four brothers – Hans, Rudi, and Kurt - committed suicide, which Wittgenstein had also contemplated; Hermine died in February 1950, a little over a year before her famous and youngest brother. Ludwig’s death is here jointly announced by all of his surviving siblings, Helene, Margaret, whose husband, Jerome Stonborough also had committed suicide 13 years earlier, and Paul. The note mentions Ludwig to have succumbed on Sunday, April 29, after prolonged grave illness, and after having received the last rites.
The latter note is of some interest regarding Wittgenstein’s faith and relationship with Christianity, which changed over time. Baptized and educated a Catholic, he lost his faith and became an atheist whilst attending the Realschule in Linz as a teenager in 1903-1906. It is also well documented though, that whilst resisting formal religion, he was always sincerely disposed towards religious faith, developing a deepening spirituality with age.
This death note was never posted; the original envelope remained unused and is in virgin state. It is thus likely that it remained in the possession of one of Wittgenstein’s siblings until it found its way into the open.