• <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Rowling (J.K.). Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, original fine black pen and ink manuscript book by the author J.K.Rowling, with 31pp of text and illustrations. £80,000 to £120,000
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Blaeu (Johannes). <i>Vierde Stuck der Aerdrycks-Beschryving, welck vervat Engelandt</i>, i.e. <i>Theatrum Orbis Terrarum</i>. vol 4, England & Wales. £10,500 to £12,500
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Miró (Joan). L'Homme au Balencier, etching, aquatint and carborundum, printed in colours on Japan paper, signed in pencil lower right. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Steve McCurry (b.1950). Afghan Girl, 1984, pigment inkjet print, signed and numbered 48/250 in pencil on lower margin. £2,500 to £3,500
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Keough (Pat and Rosemarie). <i>Antarctica</i>, no 228 of 950 copies, signed by the authors, many colour illustrations, original dark grey morocco. £2,800 to £3,200
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Rowlandson (Thomas). Darby & Joan, the idyllically contended couple sit either side of a stove in a cosy domestic interior, ink and watercolour on wove paper. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Procktor (Patrick). Tiny blue-eyed goldfish, watercolour, 310 x 460mm., signed in blue crayon, lower right, titled and inscribed Muscat Jan 19. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Iouri Abramochkin (b.1936). Horsemen, Dagestan, 1968, Lambda print, printed later, signed, dated, editioned 1/8 and annotated in black ink verso. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Ravilious (Eric).- Shakespeare (William). Twelfth NIght, or, What You Will, number 79 of 275 copies , wood-engraved title. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Michelangelo.- Chastel (André). <i>The Vatican Frescoes of Michelangelo</i>, Photography by Takashi Okamura, 2 vol., one of 600 sets, colour plates. £500 to £700
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Wyndham (John). <i>The Day of the Triffids; The Kraken Wakes; The Chrysalids;</i> together with 8 other volumes. All first editions. £400 to £600
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). Goats Along The Seine, 1894. Photogravure, printed 1990s by Dorothy Norman, one from an edition of 40 published by Aperture. £400 to £600
  • <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 95. Turing. <i>Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals</i>. Offprint. London, 1939. Robin Gandy's Copy. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 98. Zernike, Fritz. The 1953 Nobel Prize for Physics: The Invention of the Phase-Contrast Microscope. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 111. Apple 1 Computer, operational, with exceptional provenance. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1074. Bruce, Lenny. An unreleased 16 mm film by "Count" Lewis DePasquale featuring Lenny Bruce. $7,000 to $10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1254. Hirohito. Manuscript in Japanese, "The Emperor's Monologue," transcribed by Terasaki Hidenari. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1095. Goldman. Emma. Large archive of correspondence, much of it to Warren Starr Van Valkenburgh. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 109. Wozniak and Jobs. The First Digital "Blue Box", Berkeley, 1972. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 46. Newton, Isaac. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. 1st issue. London, 1687. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 49. Newton. Autograph Manuscript in English, a portion of a draft of Newton's study on revelation. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1027. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1st edition, 1st issue. Scribners, 1925. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1042. Hemingway., Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Presentation copy, one of 15 copies. Scribners, 1940. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1215. A 48-star American Flag, flown from LCT-703, sunk on Omaha Beach, December 1944. $15,000 to $20,000
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio!</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio!</b>
  • <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SAINT-EXUPERY, ANTOINE DE. Kodachrome Film (16mm) showing Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Consuelo on a boat, 1942. JOINED: Guestbook for the Boat, signed, with a drawing of the Little Prince. 15 000 to 20 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> CANDEE, HELEN CHURCHILL. Autograph manuscript. TITANIC, 40 leaves. Original account of the most famous shipwreck, by a survivor of the ordeal. 300 000 to 400 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> TITANIC. Collection of 7 documents relating to the shipwreck of the Titanic (14 April 1912). 20 000 to<br>30 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> DUPLEIX DE CADIGNAN, JEANBAPTISTE. Signed autograph manuscript. Thirty years of memoirs related to military services and important information on the American War of Independence.<br>40 000 to 50 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> CURTIUS. Faiz et Conquestes d'Alexandre [Histoire d'Alexandre le Grand]. In French, illuminated manuscript on paper and parchment, 16 large miniatures. 300 000 to<br>500 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> NELSON, HORATIO. Signed autograph letter, ‘Nelson & Bronte,” aboard the Amazon, 14 October 1801, addressed to Sir William Hamilton. 4 000 to 5 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> GIROLAMO FRANCESCO MARIA MAZZUOLI DIT LE PARMESAN. Le couple amoureux. Pen and brown ink. 80 000 to 120 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SADE, DONATIEN-ALPHONSE-FRANÇOIS, MARQUIS DE. Autograph manuscript. The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage, 1785.<br>4 000 000 to 6 000 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> MIRÓ, JOAN. Signed autograph correspondence to Thomas and Diane Bouchard (1949-1976). 50 000 to 60 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> BALZAC, HONORÉ DE. Signed autograph manuscript, Ursule Mirouët, [1841]. One of only two manuscripts of novels by Balzac in private hands. 800 000 to<br>1 200 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> LENOIR, ALEXANDRE. Essai sur l'histoire des arts en Egypte pouvant servir d'appendice au grand ouvrage de la Commission. autograph manuscript with numerous additions and corrections. 40 000 to 50 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SCHRÖDINGER, ERWIN. Autograph manuscript [Spring 1946, sent to Albert Einstein]. 1 500 to 2 000 €

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2003 Issue

117 Years in the Dismantling:<br>The End of Perhaps the Greatest Collection Ever

117years

Three boxes of Thomas Phillips' documents, just as he left them.


By Michael Stillman

One of the longest running collection dispersals ever finally came to a close last month at Sotheby’s as that venerable auction house auctioned off the last remnants of the Sir Thomas Phillipps collection. The Phillipps auctions started 117 years ago, in 1886, and officially closed in 1981 after a mere 95 years. However, a few of Phillipps’ unusual boxes remained intact after the final auction, and these were brought back to the auction block last month essentially the way Phillipps left them – a mess.

Phillipps was, to say the least, an eccentric collector of the nineteenth century. He collected anything and everything that had to do with books and manuscripts, particularly in the English language. In the process, he put together one of the greatest collections ever, consisting of around 100,000 books and 60,000 manuscripts. No wonder it took so long to dispose of it.

His story is the nightmare of every collector’s wife. It’s the story of boxes of books piling up to the ceiling, expanding from room to room, and gradually overtaking practically every inch of space in the house. His obsession drove Phillipps and his family deeply into debt and nearly bankrupted them, but it never slowed him down.

While there was a method to Sir Thomas’ madness, it must have seemed like he collected indiscriminately. He acquired everything from rare 11th century gospels to reams of seemingly useless scraps of paper, stuffed away in large coffin-shaped boxes. These unique boxes were employed so that they could be quickly removed in the event of fire. Essentially, Sir Thomas wanted to preserve everything, which is why he seemed such an indiscriminate collector. Late in his life he even wrote that his aim was to have a copy of every book in the world. When you want everything, there isn’t much that’s going to be left out.

At one time, Phillipps’ home was filled with these odd boxes crammed full of books. As the library was dispersed, material was unpacked and the boxes discarded. However, three of these boxes, dating back at least to 1854, remained intact. The reason was simply that what was inside was too much a mess to unpack. Rather than complete books or manuscripts, they contained thousands of fragments, pieces, and scraps of documents, letters, wills, summonses, and more, all covered in dust. And so while these boxes have passed through two hands since the final sale in 1981, they returned to Sotheby’s essentially the same as when they left. No one had as yet wanted to tackle the job of sorting them out.

To fully appreciate this strange lot, we need to turn to Sotheby’s cataloguers. They prepared one of the most entertaining lot descriptions you will ever see, and we have no choice but to quote from it at length.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Sotheby’s New York: Fine Books & Manuscripts. December 11, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> Wright, Frank Lloyd. An important collection of early letters from Wright to members of his family. 1909–1926. $60,000 to $80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> Rand, Ayn. Ayn Rand's important first speech delivered at the Ford Hall Forum. $60,000 to $80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> Tolkien, J.R.R. <i>The Hobbit or There and Back Again</i>. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1937. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> [Flemish Flower Manuscript]. Lille, Spanish Netherlands: 1630. $50,000 to $60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> García Márquez, Gabriel. Two drafts of an early short story, "Rosas Artificiales.” $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: History of Science and Technology. December 12, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> Enigma M4. A Fully Operational Four-Rotor ("M4") Kriegsmarine Enigma Cipher Machine, 1944. $350,000 To $500,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> The "Polio" Nobel Prize. The 1954 Nobel Prize Medal for Physiology or Medicine Awarded to Frederick C. Robbins. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> ENIGMA I. A Fully Operational Early Three-Rotor Enigma I Cipher Machine. Berlin, Heimsoeth Und Rinke, Early 1930s. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> Bonestell, Chesley. "Saturn, Viewed From Titan, One of Its Satellites." A Mid 1950's Study for the 360° Titan Panorama. 1 ½ x 20’. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> Descartes, René. <i>Discours de la Méthode pour Bien Conduire Sa Raison, & Chercher la Verité dans les Sciences... 1637. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Christie’s Online, Dec. 5 – Dec. 12:</b> <i>John the Baptist</i>. initial 'H' cut from a choirbook [Lombardy or Siena, c. 1470s]. US$6,000–9,000
    <b>Christie’s Online, Dec. 5 – Dec. 12:</b> <i>Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) seated on a terrace with Sikh noblemen</i>. [Punjab, North India, circa 1830-40]. Estimate: US$10,000–15,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Friend, Wife</i>, graphite & watercolor cover for Judge magazine, May 1920. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Après la Tempête</i>, watercolor, ink & graphite cover for <i>Vogue</i>, April 1919, inscribed to Madame Condé Nast. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Maurice Sendak, <i>Little Bear & His Parents </i>, pencil study & finished watercolor for <i>Bears of the World</i>, 1981. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b><br>Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), <i>A Great Gallumphing Galoot!</i>, original drawing & inscription, signed twice, in <i>Dr. Seuss's ABC</i>. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Scrapbook relating to the production of <i>Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs</i>, with 20 original drawings, circa 1937. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Charles M. Schulz, <i>Gentleman Biographer</i>, pen & ink, <i>Peanuts</i> comic strip, 1972. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Jerry Pinkney, <i>[Brer Rabbit & Brer Bear]</i>, watercolor, pen & ink on paper, 1990. $20,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> <i>Daffydils</i>, festschrift for Harry Hershfield, signed with cartoons & caricatures by George Herriman, Winsor McCay & others, 1911. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> W.W. Denslow, <i>Higglepy, Piggleby, My Black Hen</i>, ink & gouache, for <i>Denslow's Mother Goose </i>, 1901. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Pavel Tchelitchew, <i>Savonarola</i>, graphite & gouache, sketch for the production at Theater in der Königgrätzer Straße, 1923. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> John Philip Falter, <i>Strictly Off the Record</i>, oil on canvas, for Four Roses Whiskey, 1942. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Movie Scream</i>, pen, ink & watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker</i>, January 1947. $12,000 to $18,000.

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