Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2017 Issue

Feb 8: Books and Manuscripts including Ultra Rare Rimbaud items at Sotheby's Paris


Highlights from Sotheby's Feb. 8 sale of Books and Manuscripts

Livres et Manuscrits is Sotheby’s Paris’ upcoming sale on February 8, 2017 that features a healthy mix of material. From rare autograph documents by French poet Arthur Rimbaud, to medical manuscripts, to a collection of artists’ letters, the sale, though varied in topics it covers, has a distinctly French air about it. The catalog is also only available in French, so having some ability to comprehend the language is recommended, though Google Translate works in a pinch [note: some names in Latin such as Paracelsus are written in French, i.e. Paracelsus is labelled Paracelse]. Livres et Manuscrits takes place at 2:30 pm CET and contains 148 lots. 

Beginning with medical manuscripts from the library of Jean Blondelet that includes rare first editions of Ambroise Paré, Girolamo Fabrici, Paracelsus, and Girolamo Cardan, early medicine, anatomy, and surgery are well represented in the sale. The selections available would be equally at home as the foundation of a new medical collection or as additions to an existing one. In addition to the manuscripts, a selection of illustrated scientific books from the 16th to 18th centuries, botanic and zoological works, 18th-century literature and Napoleonica are also being offered.

Undoubtedly the biggestdeal of the sale is material by Arthur Rimbaud, the poet recognized for his influence on modern literature and arts as well as his contributions to Symbolism. Two unique items headline the high estimates. Material of Rimbaud’s particularly scarce, as his creative period lasted a mere five years and ended at the unripe age of twenty-one. Lot 88 is an autograph manuscript of La Rivere de Cassis that belonged to Paul Verlaine, another very famous French poet, with whom Rimbaud was romantically involved. The document being auctioned is also the only autograph manuscript copy of the poem in private hands. After a long and complicated history, it’s and only appearance for sale was in 1996. It’s availability on February 8th marks the second time it will be on the public market. As one might expect, rarity of this magnitude does not come cheaply. Lot 88 carries an estimate of 200,000 – 300,000€.

Two lots preceding (lot 86) is another work done in Rimbaud’s own hand, this time a set of seven drawings on two pages done at the age of ten in 1865, being a comic entitled Plaisirs du Jeune Âge [Pleasures of Youth] representing the universe of a child his age. These two pages originate from a notebook later called Cahier de dix ans, of which eight pages survive today. These drawings have been sold twice, once in 1992 to the Musée-bibliothèque Arthur-Rimbaud de Charleville-Mézières, and in 2007 to Pierre Bergé. Lot 86 is estimated at 100,000 – 150,000€. 

The auction also features letters by well known artists such as Ensor, Jaguer, Jorn, Pissarro, Redon, and Signac; original drawings by Picasso, Bellmer, and Saint-Exupéry; manuscripts by musicians like Berlioz and Liszt. Finally, a selection of illustrated books and drawings by Louise Bourgeois, Buren, Dubuffet, Klimt, Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Miró, Staël, and Vieira da Silva close out the sale.

Livres et Manuscrits strikes a nice balance of scientific, literary, and artistic material. The entire catalog is viewable online on Sotheby’s website. Bidding will be available in expected formats: live, absentee, telephone, and online. Registration with Sotheby’s is required.

Exhibition times in Paris are as follows:

Fri, 03 Feb 17 | 10:00 am - 06:00 pm CET

Sat, 04 Feb 17 | 02:00 pm - 06:00 pm CET

Mon, 06 Feb 17 | 10:00 am - 06:00 pm CET

Tue, 07 Feb 17 | 10:00 a - 06:00 pm CET

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <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>

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