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>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Adams (Richard). <i>Watership Down,</i> FIRST EDITION, author inscription on front free end paper, folded map tipped in, original boards, dust-jacket. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bowles (John). <i>Several Prospects of the Most…la Ville de Londres, avec des Remarques Historiques fort Succinctes, qui les Regardant,</i> 20 double page engraved plates only, of 23, 1724. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Auden (W.H.). <i>Our Hunting Fathers,</i> FIRST SEPARATE EDITION, 1 of 22 copies, COPY B OF 5 PRINTED ON NORMANDIE, original patterned wrappers, Cambridge, for Frederic Prokosch, 1935. £800 to £1200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Barrie (J. M.) & Attwell (Mabel Lucie, illustrator). <i>Peter Pan & Wendy,</i> FIRST EDITION, 12 chromolithograph plates, publisher's blue cloth, original printed dust jacket, [c.1920]; and 3 others (4). £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bartolozzi (Francesco). Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce; Agriculture (Husbandry Aided by Arts and Commerce), glazed and framed. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> A collection of engraved caricatures, including Gillray ([James]) Tales of Wonder!, 1802; Rowlandson (Thomas) Sports, Smock Racing, 1811;Irish Jaunting Carr, 1814. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Bennett (Charles H, illustrator). <i>Æsop’s Fables,</i> 1875; Buchanan (Robert). <i>Ballad Stories of the Affections,</i> [1866]; Douce (Francis), The Dance of Death, 1833. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Chinese Illustrations. A group of 6 Cantonese rice paper illustrations, depicting scenes of torture with different instruments, gouache, c.340 x 220mm, original wrapper boards preserved, [c. 1800]. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Dulac (Edmund). <i>The Queen of Romania, The Dreamer of Dreams,</i> 5 coloured plates, [1915]; and others illustrated by Edmund Dulac. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Summer Books. August 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Fronth (Per). Xingu Chronicles, the portfolio, comprising 30 plates, photogravues in colours, each signed, dated and titled in pencil, each numbered 10/35, on wove paper, 790 x 600 x 60mm, 1997. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doctor Zhivago,</i> FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, original red publisher’s cloth, pictorial dust jacket, 4to, Collins & Harvill Press, 1958. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Aug. 22:</b> 13 sepia photographs of visitors to the Thermes Nationaux d’Aix-les-Bains, c. 150 x 105mm, c.1890 (12). £300 to £400
  • <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>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:</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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