Journeys into the Occult | Peter Harrington’s New Catalogue

SEPTEMBER 2023: Peter Harrington’s newest catalogue Friends on the Other Side – Journeys in the Occult, brings together an expansive investigation into esoteric literature: encompassing alchemical science, investigations into witchcraft, “modern” looks at tarot, the occult revival, theosophical art, and almost everything in between.

The catalogue – which is the rare book seller’s first dedicated catalogue on the subject – includes a broad range of material, from early treatises on the existence of witchcraft and alchemical manuals, to works on divination, charms, conjuring, hypnotism, paganism, Qabalah, “fairy photos”, and ghost stories written by everyone from Dickens to the Society of Psychical Research. It explores the concept of the other side, shining the candlelight on the activities deemed too improper for polite society and art deemed superficial due to its spiritual origin, thus attempting to find, classify, and learn from arcane sources of knowledge.


  • A collection of occult manuscripts and correspondence of Oscar and Constance Wilde’s palm reader and regular visitor at their home in Chelsea, Edward Heron-Allen. Heron-Allen was in high demand for his palm-reading skills in late 19th-century London. Indeed, it was Heron Allen’s works Cheirosophy: or the Science of Palmistry (1883) and A Manual of Cheiromancy (1885) that fostered the craze of palm reading, leading the New York Times to report in 1886 that, “it is through him and his books that all London society has so suddenly taken up this fad, so that wherever you go young ladies demand to see what kind of a line of life your hand reveals and if its wrinkles mask some ghastly secret’” – £25,000
  • An exceptional archive, the largest in private hands, of the “magical” writings and original illustrations of one of Britain’s most important surrealist artists, Ithell Colquhoun. The Tate holds much of her artistic output: this archive contains a vast array of her later occult writings, sketches, and received correspondence – £37,500.
  • A signed limited edition of Anton Prinner’s Le Livre des Morts des Anciens Egyptiens, his version of an Egyptian Book of the Dead, comprised of 67 plates of image and text in a Surrealist mode, all printed using Prinner’s own invented technique of ‘papyrogravure’, which uses a cardboard plate to print from instead of copper – £12,500.

  • A first edition of the richly illustrated work Studies in Hand-Reading by Charlotte Wolff who analysed the palms of many key creative figures, including her close friend Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw – £1,500.
  • An incredible set of letters from the renowned explorer, and inspiration for Indiana Jones, Percy Fawcett to the noted clairvoyant Alfred vout Peters, dating up to the months prior to Fawcett’s disappearance in the search for the “Lost City of Z”. The letters are accompanied by an autograph album signed by several fascinating people (many with occult significance) such as Arthur Conan Doyle (whose book The Lost World was inspired by Fawcett), Edward Carpenter, Annie Besant, George Bernard Shaw, Oliver Lodge, and others all signed to Alfred vout Peters – £17,500.

  • A remarkable and extensive manuscript grimoire by an 18th century physician providing a fascinating insight into magic practitioners of the mid-18th century, with exceptional research potential – £15,000.
  • First edition of Oliver Lodge’s Why I Believe in Personal Immortality, his personal copy and one of just five with the suppressed chapter detailing the contents of seances that purported to communicate with mountaineer Andrew Irvine, who died while attempting to summit Mount Everest in the 1920s – £3,750.
  • Two original drawings by Argentinian-born medium and automatist Constance “Ethel” Le Rossignol (1873-1970), with manuscript annotations to both. The two drawings were printed in the final work, A Goodly Company, in 1933 as Figure No. 5, The Sphere of Wisdom and Figure No. 16, The Shepherd of Souls. The majority of Le Rossignol’s paintings were donated by her in 1968 to the College of Psychic Studies in South Kensington. These two examples are the only original drawings whose location are currently known; none have been traced institutionally or at auction – £2,750.
  • First and only contemporary edition, inscribed by the author on the title, “Mr. John Bailey, July 25 1893, With the Author’s kind regards, J. H. Pepper” – the work that gave Pepper’s exposition of the famous stage illusion that came to be known as “Pepper’s Ghost”, one of the most significant optical devices of the Victorian era in which a spectral image of an actor was projected before the audience – £3,500.  

  • A hand-corrected typescript copy of Aleister Crowley’s paean to cocaine, “Happy Dust” – £7,500.

  • A 19th-century wooden printing block of Satan and a woman depicting Satan’s bedroom activities. The wood block features a striking image of Satan presenting a cup to a bed-ridden individual. Woodcuts such as this were crucial to the dissemination of the image of both Satan and the witch still with us today – £1,850.
  • A collection of five reference photos from Malcom Leigh’s iconic “witchploitation” film Legend of the Witches released in February 1970, starring Alex and Maxine Sanders, founders of Alexandrian Wicca and the so-called King and Queen of witchcraft – £875.
  • First and only edition, of the published results of one of the earliest recorded scientific investigations of an Egyptian mummy by William Osburn – £1,500.
  • The only known complete copy of a rare penny dreadful, The Ghost’s House in the Lonely Road. A story for Christmas – £2,750.  

  • A unique tarot journal compiled by veteran occultist Frederick Van Norstand, using the Major Arcana cards of the Builders of the Asytum (BOTA) deck, one of the only modern decks to use uncoloured line drawings. The founder of BOTA, Paul Foster Case, believed it was essential that every student hand-colour their own deck as part of their spiritual development, as Van Norstrand has done here – £3,750.
  • Trade cards for magical services, a collection of street flyers for marabouts of Paris and Marseilles circa 1970-2020s, offering a glimpse into contemporary magic – £1,250.

“This catalogue brings together a range of attempts to show that alchemical scientists, kabbalistic mathematicians, artist-mediums and magician-poets were never quite alone in the search to better understand themselves and the universe. Indeed, in spite of persecution, and the deliberate occlusion of this side of human experience from the two-eyed gaze of scientific materialism and established religion which has characterised the cultural consensus of the West, they always had friends on the other side,” says Sammy Jay, Senior Literature Specialist at Peter Harrington, who has compiled this selection alongside fellow bookseller and cataloguer Suzanna Beaupré, whose studies have focused on the visual culture of heresy and witchcraft.”

Martha Lucas
Martha Lucas
Martha Lucas is passionate about film and literature. She is working on her first novel and writes articles. In charge of the theater and books sections at MCM. Seville, Spain.
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