Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2017 Issue

Dec. 6: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper at Forum Auctions in London


Highlights from Forum Auctions' sale of Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper

Words that have become immortalized through the HBO show Game of Thrones will ring true this month: Winter is Coming. And with the cold comes a lull in the auction season as the industry takes time to catch its breath from work and connect with family and friends over the holiday. But before the field goes on vacation, we still have several busy weeks of sales, one being Forum Auction’s Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper, taking place Wednesday, December 6th. Four hundred and ninety-two lots will be offered, and they come from a great length of time: the late 8th and early 9th centuries to the 20th.


Images command a significant premium, and it’s no surprise that the sale’s highlights contain quite a few. Also, age is often an important factor in determining value, but in this auction’s case, the highest estimated item is also one of the youngest. François-Louis Schmied’s Histoire Charmante de l’Adolescent Sucre d’Amour (1927) is one of the author’s rarest works, this being one of only 25 copies. “A magnificent Art Deco book,” Histoire features plates, illustrations, and decorations hand-colored by Jean Dunand. As lot 297, it is estimated £20,000 to £30,000.


Captain James Cook and John Webber’s Views in the South Seas (1808) is comprised of 16 hand-colored aquatint plates of views from Cook’s third voyage to the South Seas during the years 1776 to 1780. Included are views of New Zealand, the Resolution and Discovery in the ice fields, Kamchatka, Macao and Krakatoa. This first edition set is available as lot 323 for an estimated £18,000 to £22,000.


Shifting away from images, two important lots carry high value because of their words and historical significance alone. Lot 137 is Shakespeare’s “The Winters Tale,” extracted from the First Folio (1623), and while it’s a bit painful to reflect on the fact that this was once part of a complete First Folio, it’s impressive and rare nonetheless! Just the one play from the First Folio commands an estimate of £12,000 to £18,000. And lot 155 is A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in General Congress at Philadelphia, Setting forth the Causes and Necessity of their taking up Arms (1775). This declaration was a necessary step in the movement for American independence; for creating the Continental Army and paving the way for the Declaration. £15,000 to £20,000 is the estimated value.


A wealth of varied and interesting material makes up the other 488 lots, including but not limited to a signed first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit (lot 262), an early Italian Megillah (Hebrew scroll, lot 56), a Rodolphe Bresdin lithograph (lot 289), and a manuscript commentary on Isaiah dating from the late 8th or early 9th centuries.


Forum Auction’s sale of Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper is scheduled for 10:30am GMT on December 6, 2017 at the Westbury Hotel in London. The catalog can be viewed online here.


Viewing times (GMT):

220 Queenstown Road, London SW8 4LP
Monday 27th November 10.00am – 5.30pm
Tuesday 28th November 10.00am – 5.30pm
Wednesday 29th November 10.00am – 5.30pm

The Westbury Hotel, London W1S 2YF
Monday 4th December 9.30am – 7.30pm
Tuesday 5th December 9.30am – 7.30pm
Wednesday 6th December from 9.30am


Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <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, 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>

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