Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2007 Issue

Bibliography, Auction Catalogues, Reference, Etc. from Forest Books

Forest107

Bibliography, reference, etc., from Forest Books.


By Michael Stillman

British bookseller Forest Books has issued their Catalogue 107 of Bibliography, Bookbinding and Reference. We are particularly impressed by the old auction catalogues available. Private collectors were able to build magnificent libraries such as would be virtually impossible to create today, so many of the best works now securely locked away in institutional collections. These auction catalogues have become, in effect, bibliographies of the great antiquarian books. We will focus on some of these catalogues as we look inside the latest Forest catalogue, but there is much more in the way of bookbinding, papermaking, etc., from the book arts also available.

They used to throw some very impressive auctions. Item 25 is Bibliotheca Beauclerkiana. A Catalogue of the Large and Valuable Library of the Late Honourable Topham Beauclerk...of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Volumes...On Monday, April 19, 1781, and Forty-Nine Following Days... You needed to have a lot of free time to attend an auction in those days. Beauclerk was a close friend of biographer/lexicographer Samuel Johnson, and when he lay on his deathbed, Boswell reports that Johnson said, "I would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save Beauclerk." Unlikely, since Johnson was 70 years old at the time. Beauclerk was born to nobility, which enabled him to be such a large buyer. Incidentally, Beauclerk was married to Lady Diana Spencer, obviously a different Lady Diana Spencer than the one who came to be known as Princess Diana, but another noble lady as well. Priced at £475 (British pounds, or roughly US dollars $940).

Topham Beauclerk was an amateur compared to Richard Heber. Item 175 is the Catalogue of the Library of the Late Richard Heber...except it is not a mere catalogue. It is 13 volumes of bibliography. Heber was estimated to own something between 200,000 and 300,000 books. They were stored in six houses and several smaller locations. He purchased his books from 1800-1830, the period of Dibdin's "Bibliomania," but died in 1833, Dibdin's "Bibliophobia" period. His collection went on the block in a series of auctions from 1834-1837 in a very depressed market. Few collectors attended. The collection, which cost him over £100,000 to amass, sold for a total of £56,744. The collection was strongest in English literature, but included numerous continental items as well. This set of the Sotheby's auction catalogues was owned by William Pickering, and includes prices and notations for some items, including symbols he used to note how high he was willing to bid. Pickering was an important publisher and bookseller of the first half of the 19th century. £5,995 (US $11,865).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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