Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2016 Issue

Oct. 18: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books at Swann

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Highlight lots from Swann's sale of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books

With fall officially upon us, the auction field has shaken off its quiet summer slumber and the calendar is once again chock-full of sales. One such sale taking place this month is Swann Auction Galleries’ Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 18th. With 334 lots spanning incunabula to the 20th century, Swann has included a mélange of items that will appeal to collectors with many different focuses, from mathematics, to naval navigation, to mountaineering—these are just a few of the subjects you will find on offer.

One of the sale’s earliest printed items is Euclid’s Elementa geometriae. Math fanatics are likely familiar; this is the “foundation text of geometry, the first major mathematical work to appear in print” (Swann). The copy up for sale is a first edition, printed in Venice in 1482 by Erhard Ratdolt, an early German printer known for his innovations related to layout and typography. Euclid’s work would be equally at home in a collection of incunabula, mathematics, or Venice printings. It carries the sale’s highest estimate of $60,000 – 80,000 as lot 147.

Books on travel make up a large part of the sale and the last lot, 334, is one that bears mentioning. Rodrigo Zamorano was a cosmographer and pilot major at the Casa de Contratación, Spain’s government agency in charge of controlling Spanish exploration and colonization from the 16th to 18th centuries. In 1581 his Compendido del Arte de Navegar, a standard Spanish navigation manual was printed for the first time. Swann’s sale includes a fourth edition, printed in 1588, and they note that the Compendido is “scarce in all editions.” Lot 334 is estimated $20,000 – 25,000.

Other interesting travel material include:

  • Jean-Baptiste Du Halde’s Description Géographique, Historique, Chronologique, Politique, et Physique de l'Empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie Chinoise, a 1735 first edition of what was then the most comprehensive European work on China. It features 65 engraved plates and maps, most which are double-page or folding. Lot 219, est. $15,000 – 20,000.
  • Edmund Thomas Coleman’s Scenes from the Snow-Fields; being, Illustrations of the Upper Ice World of Mont Blanc from Sketches made on the Spot in the Years 1855, 1856, 1857, 1858, a first edition printed in 1859, called “one of the rarest and most valuable of all mountaineering books” (Neate C92). Lot 207, est. $4,000 – 6,000.
  • Jonathan Swift’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, another first edition, printed in 1726, with an engraved frontispiece portrait and five maps. Lot 102, est. $3,000 – 5,000.

Science books are in the sale’s name and while Euclid’s Elementa is undoubtedly the brightest highlight, lot 157 is also of true significance. Sir Isaac Newton was a titan of science, and lot 157 represents the opportunity to own a first edition, first issue, of one of his works, Opticks. Contained within are a summary of Newton’s discoveries and theories related to light and color, as well as two mathematical treatises in Latin, printed with the purpose of proving he invented calculus and not Leibnitz. Newton’s Opticks is estimated $15,000 – 25,000.

Swann Auction Galleries’ sale of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books will take place on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, at 1:30 pm eastern time at Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street in New York. The catalog can be viewed online here. Previews will be available on these days:

  • October 14: 10 am – 6 pm
  • October 15: 12 – 5 pm
  • October 17: 10 am – 6 pm
  • October 18: 10 am – 12 pm

Bidding is available in the standard methods: in person, absentee, online, and telephone. All methods require registration with Swann prior to the sale. 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750

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