Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2016 Issue

June 8: Aristotle's Perfect Gem and the Black Tulip of Presidential Autographs at Bonhams


Material from Fine Books and Manuscripts mentioned in this auction preview

On June 8th, Bonhams will bring a sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts to its New York showroom. Featuring what they call, "one of the finest printed books to have appeared in these rooms," as well as a wide range of early material, maps, literature, Americana, and autographs spanning the 15th through 20th centuries, many subjects and niches are tapped, and serious collectors will do well to browse the catalog in full. A direct link to the online catalog can be found at the bottom of this auction preview.

The headlining item of the sale happens to be lot number one and has been described as "a perfect gem" in the Syston Park Library catalogue. In Bonhams' own words, Aristotle's De animalibus [De historia animalium. De partibus animalium. De generatione animalium.] (1476) is "the earliest work known of comprehensive natural history written from the perspective of an impartial observer." The specific copy being offered is a first edition and is only one of two known copies printed on vellum, the other kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Any printing of the first edition is exceedingly rare, with three copies appearing at auction since 1978, the most recent occurrence in 2001. The estimated price for such an important rarity is $300,000-500,000.

Map collectors, especially those of the new world, should find several items of interest. The second lot of the sale, Peter Apian's Cosmographia, sive descriptio universi orbis (1584) includes a folding wood-cut world map which is one of the earliest to name America (est. $5,000-7,000). And Lot 27 is Henri Joutel's Journal historique du dernier voyage que feu M. De la Sale fit dans le Golfe de Mexique, pour trouver l'embouchure, et le cours de la Riviere de Missicipi.... (1713), a first edition of the only eye-witness account of the last expedition of the French explorer La Salle and containing a folding engraved map dubbed Carte nouvelle de la Louisiane (est. $8,000-12,000).

Modern literature makes a relatively brief, but strong showing, with a signed first edition of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (lot 79, est. $25,000-35,000) and an incomplete (but considered superior as these were given by the author to friends) limited first edition of T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (lot 77, est. $40,000-60,000).

For natural history enthusiasts, an album of eighty-three gelatin silver print photos from three exploratory voyages to the Artic under the direction of Donald B. MacMillan between 1921 and 1925 may be of interest (lot 12, est. $2,000-3,000). A second octavo edition of Audubon's The Quadrupeds of North America is listed as lot 14 for an estimated $3,000-5,000. Also, be sure to look up lot 16, Pierre Joseph Buc'hoz's Premiere [-Seconde] Centurie de Planches Enluminees et Non Enluminees Representant au Naturel, Ce qui se trouve de plus Interessant et de plus Curieux parmi les Animaux, les Vegetaux et les Mineraux, a four volume set in two parts which contains 200 hand-colored plates and 200 in plain state (est. $14,000-20,000). Lastly, a rare version of George Catlin's [North American Indian Portfolio: Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America] including six additional plates along with the twenty-five original is one of 350 copies printed. This work was among the fruits of Catlin spending eight years living amongst various Native American tribes, and a truer view of Indian life does not exist (lot 117, est. $15,000-20,000).

A fifteen lot run of Amelia Earhart items (lots 124-138) will no doubt appeal to collectors of this particular aviator or of aviation in general. Featuring autographed and signed material, as well as an array of photographs and other miscellaneous items, the foundation of a budding collection or sizeable addition to an existing project is contained within the sale. Also of note and related to aviation are two postcards signed by Wilbur Wright, one depicting the first American woman to fly as a passenger in an airplane (lot 152, est. $3,000-5,000), the other a reproduction of a photograph of the Wright flyer (lot 153, est. $3,000-5,000).

The auction closes with an offering of autographs from the collection of Harry Gould, Jr., the prize being a document signed as President by William Henry Harrison. Only twelve such autographs, called the Black Tulip of Presidential autographs, are known to be in private hands. Harrison held office for a mere thirty days. This superbly rare autograph is listed under lot 183 for an estimated $40,000-60,000. One other lot presidential autograph hounds may be keen on is the preceding lot, number 182 (est. $5,000-8,000), being the autograph of James A. Garfield as President. This one is also rare because of the President's short term; Garfield's lasted six months.

The full catalog for Fine Books and Manuscripts can be accessed on the Bonhams website. Registration prior to bidding is required and can be done online here. The sale begins on June 8 at 1:00 pm EDT.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <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>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000

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