Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2013 Issue

The Curiosity Sale: Drouot, December 19, 2012

Thpic 3

pic.3* - fit for a (almost) King.

A Masterpiece

Mr. Chamonal called Mr Forgeot : “ Let’s show him the Missale Romanum...” A few seconds later, the expert dropped a heavy and luxurious book case on the table, taking a huge in-folio volume from it. Bound in full blue morocco, this 1781 missal is one of a kind (pic 3). “ Please, notice the sharpness of the gildings on the back, said Mr. Forgeot, and the fleur-de-lis, directly embroidered on the leather of the boards, which is quite unusual !” A sleeping iron sheep, laid on a cross and surrounded by golden rays also graces the first board - the result might appear somehow overloaded. “ Well, it was bound during the Restoration, said Mr. Chamonal, which is not known as the best period for French Arts. Nevertheless, this book is definitely a masterpiece of this period. Take a look inside...” This religious book is special, it was done for the Duke of Bordeaux, later known as Henri V. He was from the Bourbon family and could have been King of France had not history decided otherwise. An extraordinary man (or considered as such by some), deserved an extraordinary book. The regular black and white engravings of the original edition have been here covered by very special ones. “Look at the shimmering play of light on the plates, they have been printed on silk, then partly painted with oil painting. These incredible colors on the characters ? They come from the fact that these engravings are... embroidered !” Both men looked at each other in a maze, as if hardly believing it.

“There is another book of the same period that features exactly the same kind of engravings. It was made for the Duchess of Berry, the mother of the Duke of Bordeaux”, says Mr. Forgeot. Mr. Chamonal shook his head in front of the glittering pages : “ Sometimes, not too often, you come across one embroidered plate in a book. But I had never seen such a thing before. This is the most expensive book of the sale, of course – but beyond that, this really is the book of the sale.” The author of this incredibly delicate work has remained unknown, though credited in the copy of the Duchess as one Miss Pierre. The catalogue of the Duchess’ library reads : “ The embroiderings render the grace and the naive expression of the drawings as successfully as the most expert brush.” Benoît Forgeot wanted to attract my attention to a particular plate, showing the “ King ” putting down his crown at the foot of the Cross. “This is the Duke of Bordeaux, he said. Of course, he was just a child at the time, so this is the projection of him as a King. This book is a book of dedication, to God of course, as it is a missal, but also to the Duke.” Mr. Chamonal was impressed : “The amount of work this book required is incredible. Overloaded ? Well, a true masterpiece of the period, no matter what.” It went for 60,000 euros, the lower appraisal.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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