• <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>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>The Tragedie of Julius Caesar.</i> London, 1623. 1st appearance in print, Complete from the First Folio. Sold for $175,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Zane Grey, Inscribed photograph album depicting Grey and party at Catalina, fishing, and in Arizona. $700 to $1,000
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Eric Taverner, Salmon Fishing...London: Seeley, Service & Co., 1931. $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> The Gentleman Angler. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Ken Robinson, Flyfishers' Progress. [London: The Flyfishers' Club, 2000. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> G. H. Lacy, North Punjab Fishing Club Angler's Handbook. Calcutta: Newman & Co., 1890. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> J. Harrington Keene, Fly-Fishing and Fly-Making for Trout, etc. New York, 1887. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Arthur Macrate, The History of The Tuna Club, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1948. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Joseph D. Bates Jr. Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, 1966. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Paul Schmookler and Ingrid V. Sils. Rare and Unusual Fly Tying Materials: A Natural History. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Herbert Hoover, Fishing For Fun - And To Wash Your Soul. New York: Random House, 1963. $400 to $600
  • <b>Skinner: Early English Books<br>A Single Owner Sale. July 20, 2018</b>
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> Cranmer, Thomas (1489-1556). <i>Catechismus, That is to Say, a Shorte Instruction into Christian Religion...</i> London, 1548. First edition. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> Donne, John (1572-1631). <i>Pseudo-Martyr.</i> London: Printed by W[illiam] Stansby for Walter Burre, 1610. First edition. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> Fletcher, Giles (1549?-1611). <i>The Russe Common Wealth, or Maner of Gouernement by the Russe Emperour…</i> London, 1591. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> Gabelkover, Oswald (1539-1616). <i>The Boock of Physicke.</i> Dordrecht: Isaack Caen, 1599. First edition. $12,000 to $15,000
    <b>Skinner: Early English Books<br>A Single Owner Sale. July 20, 2018</b>
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> Galileo, Galilei (1564-1642) trans. Thomas Salusbury (d. 1666). <i>Mathematical Collections and Translations the First Tome.</i> London, 1661. First edition of Galileo's works in English. $35,000 to $50,000
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> Higden, Ranulphus (d. 1364). <i>Polycronicon.</i> Translated by John Trevisa, with the 1357-1460 <i>Continuation</i> by William Caxton. Southwark, 1527. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> Randolph, Bernard (b. 1643). <i>The Present State of the Morea, Called Anciently Peloponnesus…</i> London, 1689. [Bound with] <i>The Present State of the Islands of the Archipelago…</i> $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Skinner, July 20:</b> <i>The Great Herball Newly Corrected.</i> London, 1539. Folio, ESTC lists three U.S. copies; the last copy offered at auction was incomplete and sold in 1949. $25,000 to $35,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2012 Issue

Travel Books Auction at Drouot, Paris

Mrforgeot

Mr. Forgeot, the expert, during the exhibition at Drouot, Paris.

THE EXPERT’S CHOICE

  The Drouot auction house, in Paris, has something of a 19th century brothel look with its tiny staircases leading to different rooms, upstairs or downstairs, the red carpeted walls, the confidential and cozy atmosphere. Everything here is but luxury, peace and pleasure – but behind the velvet curtains, fierce and dark passions are at work. Anyone can enter this sanctuary, no questions asked. Paintings, furniture, jewellery, antiquarian books... the seven wonders of the world have gone through Drouot ever since it opened its doors in 1852. In this living and free museum, touching, smelling and manipulating items is not only authorized but recommended. You are your own man in Drouot. I remember casually attending an exposition of pre-columbian art, one day, as I was waiting for another sale to begin. I was mesmerized by some incredible small figures of animals shaped in pure gold when I heard two aged gentlemen besides me. One of them was so moved, his voice was uneven as he said to his friend: “do you realize that this is the most impressive exposition of this type that ever happened in France?” That is Drouot.

On March the 7th, around 11 A.M, I found the room number 7 quietly busy as some potential buyers were sitting in front of a red carpeted table, religiously studying the books some assistants would present to them on demand. Stored in the usual glass chests, the 151 items of the Pierre Bergé’s sale were patiently enduring the covetous looks of their next masters. The former owner (at least for a majority of them), Jean-Paul Morin, is the grandson of the painter Jean Sala, and also the former financial director of the famous Publicis company. A traveller himself, Morin has focused on travel books over the years, paying attention to both the contents and the binding. To make some room in his life, he recently decided to part company with a few books...

I picked up a catalogue on the table and started to go through the pages with excitement – Pierre Bergé’s stands amongst the most famous auction houses and the quality of its catalogues is always impressive (Mr Bergé is the former companion of the late Yves Saint Laurent). Not only are they an everlasting source of bibliophilism but they also contain gorgeous pictures of bindings, engravings - they are just the perfect coffee table book.

The expert for this sale was Mr. Benoît Forgeot, a well-known bookseller who has been in the business for 25 years, from Geneva to Paris where he currently runs his own bookshop - he was, amongst other things, responsible for the sale of the Napoleonic library of Mr Dominique de Villepin, a former French Prime Ministre. Talking about the catalogue he established for Pierre Bergé’s, he said: “the idea was to describe these books in a way that reminds that they are, first and foremost, the results of some incredible human adventures. These authors were real travellers who were risking their lives across the globe. These are their testimonies.” Mr Forgeot has seen many books in his life and simplicity seems to move him above all things today. He picked up a small octavo volume on the shelf, Viaggio dell’Indie orientali, by Gasparo Balbi, a gorgeous book printed in Venice in 1590 and bound in contemporary vellum. “It is not necessarily the most impressive item of the auction, said he. It is a small book, with no illustration... But it is the quintessence of a travel book. The author was a diamond merchant in Venice, no doubt a very comfortable social position. Nevertheless, he decided to travel as far as the remote Burma, in a time when traveling was very dangerous, to look for precious stones and to report on what he saw. It is a simple and genuine relation.” Mr Forgeot is not the only one to value “simplicity” as the book was eventually sold at 20,000 euros (appraisal 6-8,000 euros).

Another book attracted our expert’s attention: Brazil Pittoresco, by Charles Ribeyrolles and Victor Frond (Rio de Janeiro, 1859 for the text / Paris, 1861 for the atlas), a very rare set hardly seen complete, as the 3 volumes of text and the atlas were published separately on two different continents. “If you take a quick look at the 69 plates, said Mr. Forgeot while opening the gigantic atlas, you might think they are photographs. Victor Frond was a photographer, indeed – a pioneer. But take a closer look and you will see that these are lithographs! Frond had them made from his own photographs. This philosophy is at the crossroad of two periods of art and history. It is the symbol of an expanding world, a world in motion, full of energy and of creativity. The binding is contemporary but quite modest.” The appraisal was still impressive, ranging from 35,000 to 45,000 euros - it went for 41,000 euros. Appraisals are a crucial part of an auction. Too low, they undermine the quality of the auction and upset buyers attracted by unrealistic expectations; too high, they discourage everyone – even worse when you consider the very expensive commission of 25% announced by the auction house for this sale. “Pierre Bergé’s, like most of the auction houses, followed the movement recently initiated by Christie’s and raised its commission,” the expert said. Prices in the following article will be given free of commission.

Times are difficult, even for antiquarian books as it seems. Generating 600,000 euros (according to Mr Forgeot), this sale was “satisfactory in the economical situation,” Mr. Forgeot stated. A third of the lots were not sold but discreetly retrieved from the sale when not meeting the reserve price - when the auctioneer let his hammer fall, you have to hear him say the word “ adjugé ”, or the sale is not completed. “Nowadays,” Mr Fergeot observed, “you hardly get a good bargain for an ordinary book without any specific binding, or a coat of arms. On the other hand, when you have something exceptional, you can expect a very good sale.” Good or bad, this rather short auction of 152 lots (for books only) gave a few surprises.

 

PROGRESS AND THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF FRANCE

  Most people might call it progress, I still call it a flat screen on a stand. There was a time when every item was physically shown, at least partially, during an auction. It was the job of the assistants. I loved it, it added a touch of tragic to the auction and it could also urge the buyers to bid on a book they had not seen during the exposition. Nowadays, maybe because of the recent scandal involving the former assistants of Drouot, we have pictures on a screen – progress. It creates confusion, sometimes. There was this guy sitting on the third row, who started to panic after saying “ 7,500”. Suddenly, he anxiously looked at the catalogue, then around him, frantically asking everyone: “what’s the number of this lot? 46? It is not 46, is it?!”

In those not so remote times, the highest bidder could also say “I keep it!” once the hammer had fallen. Then, an assistant would bring him his item right away. In a lucky day, you could end up with a pile of old books on your knees in the middle of the feverish sale, a taste of Paradise to any book lover. This is over too. Nowadays, all items are stored in a backroom where you have to pick them up when you decide to leave. Well, progress did not prevent the merciless buyers to fight over the books offered this day. Amongst the crowd, two booksellers, well-known for their unfriendly rivalry, outbid each other over a few items to the auctioneer’s delight. Another bookseller spent some 100,000 euros in less than an hour; a lot of people bid on the phone while others had left some absentee bids (not to mention the reserve prices, discreetly disguised under false absentee bids – so that no one becomes demoralized, I guess). But the most unbeatable opponent this day calmly sat on a chair from which he stood at the end of a couple of auctions to loudly declare, as required : “the National Library of France might use its pre-emptive right over this item.” Notwithstanding the frustration of the highest bidder, this guy always has the last word. As the catalogue read, the French State is entitled to use its right of pre-emption on works of art or private document. And it did, this day, on a few items, including two unusual globes. The first one was a Privilegirter pneumatisch portativer Erdglobus printed on silk paper in 1830, coming with its incredible blower - this “globe by Cella has more text with explanations and other records of discovery than the globe of Pocock which served as its model” (Dekker), quoted the catalogue. The appraisal was 2-3,000 euros - it went for 4,500 euros. The second item was a Bett’s Patent Portable Globe printed on silk in London circa 1880 (2,800 euros). The National Library of France has 15 days to make up its mind – if it does not manifest in this interval, the items return to the best bidders.

A representative from the National Archives was also here. She had come, as a few others, for the item number 105, an exceptional set of 19 handwritten lettres taken from the correspondence of Hyacinthe de Bougainville and Paul de Nourquer du Camper during their historical expedition to the South Seas between 1824 and 1826. “This was one of the most promising items of the sale, said Mr. Forgeot. But the day before, we received an official lettre from the Ministry of Defence, stating that these papers were of interest to the State and ordering us to retrieve them from the sale. I wanted to ignore their order but the auctioneer could not take the risk.” The legislation is not clearly applied in those cases and this particular one might take some time to come to a satisfying conclusion.

  


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 372: Martin Luther King Jr. March for Freedom Now! Placard. Chicago, 1960. 28 x 22”. $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 567: Warhol, Andy. Tate Gallery Exhibition Booklet, Signed on the Cover by Warhol. Tate Gallery, 1971. $700 to $900
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 72: Mitchell, Margaret. <i>Gone With the Wind.</i> New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936. First edition, first issue. $4,000 to $5,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 468: Photo Archive Documenting the 1930s—50s Chicago Jazz and Night Club Scene. A significant collection. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 143: Dr. Seuss. <i>Oh Say Can You Say.</i> 1979, First Edition, Signed. $200 to $300
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 285: [Maps] Thomas G. Bradford. <i>A Comprehensive Atlas, Geographical, Historical & Commercial.</i> Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1835. First Edition. $1,600 to $1,800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 69: Herman Melville. <i>Moby Dick, or The Whale</i>. New York: Random House, 1930. First Kent Trade Edition. $400 to $600
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 295: John James Audoban. Group of 148 Lithographs from the Birds of America. Philadelphia: J.T. Bowen, ca. 1840s. $600 to $800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 54: Langston Hughes. <i>One-Way Ticket.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949. First edition. $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 7: Ray Bradbury. <i>The Martian Chronicles.</i> With a Wine Label Signed by Bradbury. Garden City: Doubleday, 1950. First edition $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 121. Frank L Baum. <i>The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.</i> Chicago: George M. Hill Co., 1899, 1900. First Edition. $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 369. [Declaration of Independence] Peter Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence. One page; 29 x 26”. From the "American Archives" 1837-1853 series of books. $15,000 to $20,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.

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