At Rare Book Hub, we try to include in our Upcoming Auctions all auction houses whose material is relevant to our focus on rare books, maps, and ephemera. That means houses of varying sizes from all over the world, from the mom and pop shop that has a sale every year or two, to the biggest players in the game. A quick check of our auction house list from our Upcoming Auctions portion of the size revealed 271 individual auctioneers. This month, I’m highlighting one I haven’t written about before who has a sale occurring later this month.
Bubb Kuyper is a Dutch company based in the town of Haarlem. Covering books, manuscripts, prints, and drawings, their material is certainly in our wheelhouse. Their auction records have been going into the Rare Book Transaction History since 2007, and in that time, we’ve archived 132,855 lots from them. They hold sales twice yearly—one in May, the other in November—with this month’s taking place November 22 through 25. These sales are not small affairs. Spanning four days, the upcoming sale offers 6139 lots. With a number as large as this, Bubb Kuyper does interested buyers a favor by breaking the auction up into sections, which are as follows: Bibliography & Typography; Cartography; Fine and applied arts & Art Reference; Children’s Books; Dutch Literature (including autographs); Fine Printing — The Collection of M.B.B. Nijkerk and K.J. Nijkerk; Foreign Literature; Various — Erotica, Fashion & Costume, Gastronomy; Judaica, Music, Theology; Indonesia; Dutch History & Topography; Foreign History, Topography & Travels; Natural History, Medicine, Science, Technology & Transport; Manuscripts, Documents & Autographs; Old and Rare Books; and Prints, which are broken into their own eleven subsections. With such a substantial offering, interesting material for collectors of all calibers and scopes abounds.
I asked for help in choosing lots to highlight, and fortunately, a Director at Bubb Kuyper provided me some guidance. These are but a few of the 6139 lots coming to auction.
The cover of the sale’s catalog bears the image of what has been called “the most ambitious and remarkable,” as well as the “most splendid,” of the Kelmscott Press (Bubb Kuyper). This volume is The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted printed in 1896. The Kelmscott Press needs no introduction for veterans of the field, but I will provide a little background for anyone just starting out or whose focus lies elsewhere.
The Kelmscott Press was the final chapter in the life of William Morris, an English artist, designer, writer, and socialist. His career lasted over forty years, during which he published a magazine, wrote poetry, painted, designed illuminated manuscripts and embroidery, and founded a decorative arts company. He was a known figure in Britain during his lifetime. It was only in the last years of his life that Morris turned his attention to the publishing of books, and in this endeavor, he sought to produce “some which would have a definite claim to beauty, while at the same time they should be easy to read and should not dazzle the eye, or trouble the intellect of the reader by eccentricity of form in the letters” (Arts & Crafts Museum). Books printed at the Kelmscott Press were as much works of art as they were literary printings, and the Chaucer is the pièce de résistance. Lot 1369 is a very fine copy estimated at €40.000-50.000.
The next item on our short list of highlights also comes from a private press, being The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, printed in 1930 at the Cranach Press. The Cranach was a German interwar press founded by Count Harry Graf Kessler in 1913, and this printing of Hamlet is the company’s greatest work. It features eighty woodcut illustrations by the Englishman Edward Gordon Craig and is “often regarded as the most bold and ambitious example of 20th-century book art” (Bubb Kuyper). The copy being offered at auction is one of seven copies printed entirely on vellum and is also estimated at €40.000-50.000 as lot 1263.
Being an auction house in the Netherlands, Bubb Kuyper specializes in material of Dutch origin. One such lot in their upcoming sale is a handwritten poem by one of the country’s most famous figures—Anne Frank. It consists of eight lines addressed to a friend of Frank’s, encouraging the owner to work hard. The poem is dated 28 Maart [March] 1942, a little more than three months before the Frank family would move into their now famous hiding place. This incredibly rare item is listed as lot 2390 and estimated for €30.000-50.000.
Another Dutch item of note, one that collectors of natural history may find of keen appeal, is lot 3185, which has the distinction of being one of “the finest birdbook ever published in the Netherlands” (Bubb Kuyper). Consisting of five volumes printed in Amsterdam between 1770 and 1829, Nozeman and Houttuyn’s Nederlandsche vogelen; volgens hunne huishouding, aert, en eigenschappen beschreeven contains 250 plates with contemporary hand coloring and is a sight to behold that belongs in collections alongside Audubon. The five-volume set is estimated €40.000-50.000.
The last highlight for this auction preview is on a set of individual leaves from the personal archives of the Dutch avant garde typographer Piet Zwart. The items in question are loose leaves of the printing firm Trio’s advertising book, a volume that was never actually publicly published. Three copies of it exist, all of which are in Dutch museums. These individual pieces of paper come from Zwart’s collection and have never been offered for sale before now. This is a very big deal for collectors of graphic design and typography.
Bubb Kuyper’s upcoming sale takes places Tuesday, November 22nd through Friday, November 25th, 2016. You can view all 6139 lots of the sale online on their website.