Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2008 Issue

<i>In The News</i>: Magna Carta Back in Washington, Abe's Latest Top 10

Magna

1297 Magna Carta, recently auctioned by Sotheby's, is back on display in Washington.


By Michael Stillman

A copy of the Magna Carta has found its way back home to the National Archives in Washington. Of course, this is not the original home for this document. It resided in England for almost 700 years after it was inscribed in 1297. However, while all but one other of the few remaining 13th century copies of this bill of rights, first created in 1215, remain in England, this one was brought to America in the 1980s by Ross Perot. His Perot Foundation purchased it, and almost immediately put it on display at the National Archives. It remained there until last year, when the Perot Foundation put it up for sale at Sotheby's. There it was purchased by investor David Rubinstein, a former advisor during the Carter administration and founder of the Carlyle Group, for $21.3 million.

Fortunately for Americans, Rubinstein believes a copy belongs in the U.S. for Americans to appreciate too. This is reasonable enough, for while this document is English in origin, the freedoms it guaranteed inspired America's Declaration of Independence and some of the rights enshrined in its Constitution. So, once again the Magna Carta is on view at the National Archives, and hopefully will remain so for a very long time.

AbeBooks announced its highest price sales for February, and as always, these lists provide a curious mix of titles. This list features an American novel classic, a rambunctious young lady, a Christian Science first, butterflies, and the man we used to be referring to when we said the name "Dylan."

10. Sketches in Architecture, written in 1798 by Bank of England architect John Soane. A second edition. $3,934.

9. Over Sea, Under Stone, a first British edition inscribed by author Susan Cooper. $4,000.

8. The Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas, inscribed in 1950 by the author from whom Bob Dylan took his name. $4,118.

7. Lepidoptera, Rhopaloceres and Heteroceres, Indigenous and Exotic, with Descriptions, an 1870s first work by leading North American butterfly expert Herman Strecker. $4,125.

6. Le Centaure, a limited edition of the work by French poet Maurice de Guerin with 73 wood engravings by Claudius Linossier. $4,200.

5. Science and Health, the true first edition from 1875 by Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. $4,750.

4. Over Sea, Under Stone, this time a first American edition from 1966, inscribed by author Susan Cooper. $4,800.

3. Gone With the Wind, a signed first edition of Margaret Mitchell's southern classic. $5,500.

2. Eloise in Moscow highlights five volumes in the life of the precocious six-year-old, signed by author Hilary Knight and illustrator Kay Thompson. $5,852.

1. Sefarad: Revista del Instituto Arias Montano de Estudios Hebraicos y Oriente Próximo by Consejo Superior de Investigaciones. That's a mouthful, but then again, this consists of 63 volumes, from 1941-2003, covering the Bible and the history of the Jews in Spain. $7,265 (or just $115 per volume).

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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