Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2016 Issue

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

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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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <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>

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