• <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>9 & 10 December 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> Joyce (James), <i>Ulysses,</i> 4to, Paris: (Shakespeare & Co.) 1922, First Edn. €7,000 to €9,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> Of the Utmost Rarity with Swift Association. Harward (Michael). <i>Philomath. A New Almanack for the Year of Our Lord,</i> 1666. €6,000 to €9,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> With Full Complement of Hand Coloured & Other Plates. Rosellini (Ippolito). <i>Monumenti dell Egitto e della Nubia,</i> Vols. I, II, & III Plate Volumes only. €5,000 to €7,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>9 & 10 December 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> With Magnificent Hand Coloured Plates. [Bivort, Debabay, & others] <i>Annales de Pomologie,</i> 8 vols., folio, Brussels, 1853-1861. €4,000 to €6,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> With Very Fine Coloured Plates & Illustrations. Barbier (George) Vogel (Lucien) & others, <i>Gazette du Bon Ton - Arts-modes et frivolities, </i> 1914 to 1922. €4,000 to €6,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> “I have seen War... I hate War," Signed Presentation Copy to William C. Bullitt, Roosevelt (Franklin D.) August 14, 1936. €3,000 to €4,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>9 & 10 December 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> Victorian Hostess & Horticulturist. An Important Collection Relating to Lady Dorothy Nevill (1826-1913). €2,500 to €3,200.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> Fine Original Portrait Photos of The O'Brien Ladies by Margaret Cameron. Two black and white Photos, each 8" x 10". €1,200 to €1,800.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> James Hume Nesbitt Illustrations: A collection of twelve pen and ink Drawings and Etchings intended for publication as book of illustrations for his thriller novels. €800 to €1,200.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>9 & 10 December 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> Attributed to Kitagawa Utamavo (1753-1806). A pair of attractive colourful woodblock prints, of Court Ladies in decorative robes with numerous stamps and script. €800 to €1,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> Contemporaneous Notes from Captain Cook's Voyage Travel: [Anon] <i>Voyage to the South Sea by Mr. Banks, Mr. Parkinson and Dr. Solender, with Capt. Cooke,</i> a 7 page m/ss document. €700 to €1,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 9:</b> Very Rare First U.K. Edition with Yellow Paper Band. Herbert (Frank). <i>Dune,</i> 8vo London (Victor Gollancz Ltd.) 1966. €500 to €700.
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Live Online<br>2 December 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Dec. 2:</b> Rackham (Arthur). 'The Skein', original pen, ink and watercolour drawing. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Dec. 2:</b> Vico (Giambattista). <i>Principj di una scienza nuova,</i> FIRST EDITION, Felice Mosca, Naples,1725. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Dec. 2:</b> <i>Bauerkeller's New Embossed Plan of London,</i> first edition, Ackermann & Co., 1841. £1,800 to £2,200.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Live Online<br>2 December 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Dec. 2:</b> Bible, English, Coverdale's Version, J. Nycolson, Southwark, [1535]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Dec. 2:</b> Johnson (Samuel). <i>A Dictionary of the English Langauge,</i> 2 vol., fourth edition revised by the author, folio, 1773. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Dec. 2:</b> Orwell (George). <i>The Road to Wigan Pier,</i> first public edition, 8vo., Victor Gollancz, 1937. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Dec. 2:</b> Rowling (J. K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first printing 1997. £6,000 to £8,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2014 Issue

Copy of Second Highest Priced Book at Auction Goes Up for Sale

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The snowy owls are one of Audubon's most striking images.

On April 1, there will be an auction at Sotheby's in New York for a copy of what was, for years, the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction. Offered is a rare first edition, double elephant folio copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America. This title broke the record for a printed book at auction in 2000 when Christie's sold a copy for $8.8 million. In 2010, the book upped its own record when Sotheby's sold a copy for £7.32 million, or about $11.4 million in U.S. currency. Copies also sold for $5.6 million in 2005 and $7.9 million in 2012. Four copies sold for over $1 million prior to 2000.

 

Birds of America finally lost its distinction as the highest priced printed book ever at auction last November when a copy of the Bay Psalm Book sold for $14.16 million. This copy is not likely to regain the honor for Birds. It is not in as strong a condition as the Lord Hesketh copy sold in 2010. Nonetheless, the only question is how many millions of dollars it will bring.

 

In some ways, Birds of America is the anti-Bay Psalm. The latter is a very ordinary-looking book of pure text, psalms printed many times before. Its value emanates from its chronological standing. It was the first book printed in America. Additionally, only about a dozen copies are known to still exist. Birds of America was not a first book about American birds, and it is far more common, some 120 copies of the first edition known to be held in collections. What makes this book so spectacularly valuable is its beauty, the hand-colored magnificent drawings by Audubon in this massively sized book.

 

Birds of America was not published at once, but rather, the sheets were published annually and sent out to subscribers. It took many years – the first pages released in 1827, the final ones not until 1838. Because it was so expensive to publish, not many people could afford to buy it. It is estimated that 175-200 copies were printed. It was not profitable for Audubon. It was not until he published a smaller, cheaper edition a few years later that he finally generated the sales necessary to make a good income.

 

The copy to be sold currently is owned by the Indiana Historical Society. Someone at the Society made an extraordinarily shrewd move back in 1933 when they purchased this set for $4,000. That was a lot of money during the Depression, but time has shown that the best, most valuable books have proven to be the best investments. The typical book is valued today at 54 times what it was in 1933. That would peg a $4,000 book at $216,000 today. Birds is likely to sell for 15 or more times that amount.

 

The drawback to this copy is condition. We have not seen it so we cannot evaluate the copy. The Indiana Historical Society purchased it from a public library so it did see a fair amount of use when it was younger. The most expensive copies have been ones that were privately held throughout their lives by people who treated them with great care. The Indiana Historical Society has placed an estimate of $3 million on their copy, while describing their estimate as “conservative” and as a “minimum.” Sotheby's had not placed an estimate on it as of this writing, but their estimate will be more telling as they have far more experience in this than does the Historical Society. We will not be surprised if it is higher.

 

There will also be a second Audubon first edition owned by the Indiana Historical Society placed up for sale in this auction. They will be selling Audubon's one other book, his follow up, so to speak – Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. This one is generally just referred to as Quadrupeds as not everyone knows the meaning of “viviparous” (it refers to animals giving live birth, rather than laying eggs, primarily mammals). The second half of this book had to be completed by Audubon's son and his text-writing partner as ill health and memory issues plagued the great artist-ornithologist in his later years. The Society purchased this one in 1951 for $900 and has estimated it at $300,000.

 

One thing this copy of Birds has in common with the recent Bay Psalm is the reason for the sale. While a psalm book on its face was a logical possession for the Old South Church in Boston, the reality is that it was so valuable it had to be kept locked up in a safe somewhere off premises where no one could see it. The Church has many other financial needs, from its physical structure to outreach missions to the needy, while the book filled no particular need. The same applies to the Indiana Historical Society's relationship with its copies of Birds and Quadrupeds. CEO John Herbst explained, “while these sets are rare and valuable, they were acquired when the Indiana Historical Society’s mission was broader, more eclectic and not as focused on Indiana-related history as it is today.” Today, the Society is focused on Indiana items, and funds obtained will be used to add to those collections and add enough archival storage space to meet its needs for the next 30 years. “We continually see Indiana-specific items on the market that we’d like to have, but for which we need additional archive space and acquisition funds,” Mr. Herbst added. “This decision by our Collections Committee and Board helps us focus more and better preserve what we have, as well as acquire additional Indiana-related material.”

 

The sale will be held on Tuesday, April 1, at Sotheby's in New York. The sets will be available for viewing at Sotheby's Galleries the preceding six days, March 26-31.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>“The secret of life is in Art,”</i> autograph quotation dated and signed, 1882. Sold for $15,600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>Manhattan Gay Scene Guide 1969, Summer Edition,</i> Mattachine Book Service. Sold for $3,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Toyen, pen & ink illustration from <i>Marquis de Sade: Justina cili prokletí ctnosti,</i> 1932. Sold for $26,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Antonio Lopez, 9 men’s fashion studies, graphite, 1974. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Harvey Milk, 2 autograph letters signed, to Pat Mormon, during US Navy service, 1954. Sold for $2,210.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Daniel Abraham, original art for <i>Stonewall Romances,</i> pen, ink & gouache, 1979. Sold for $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> David Wojnarowicz, <i>Untitled (Genet with Dog),</i> mixed media collage. Sold for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Susie Gaynes & Amy E. Bartell, <i>March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,</i> 1987. Sold for $1,188.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>Paris is Burning,</i> photo offset poster by Anne Dutlinger, signed by film director Jennie Livingston, 1991. Sold for $1,500.
  • <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> BULLER, Walter Lawry. <i>A HISTORY OF THE BIRDS OF NEW ZEALAND.</i> London, Van Voorst, 1873. Special De-Luxe edition of this already rare work.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> GIBBS, May. <i>Gum-Nut Babies.</i> Sydney: Angus and Robertson, Ca. 1918.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> SWIFT, Jonathan. <i>TRAVELS INTO SEVERAL REMOTE NATIONS OF THE WORLD.</i> London: Printed for Benj.Motte. 1727.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> JUKES, Joseph Beete. <i>NARRATIVE OF THE SURVEYING VOYAGE OF H.M.S. FLY…</i> London: T. & W. Boone, 1847. First Edition.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> <i>SOMERVILLE, E OE. IN THE VINE COUNTRY.</i> London: W H Allen & Co Limited, 1893.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> MAWE, John. <i>The voyager’s companion, or shell collector’s pilot.</i> London : 1825. Rare.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> PARKINSON, John. <i>Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants…</i> London, Thomas Cotes, 1640.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> c. 1150 decorated MONASTIC MISSAL LEAF, Southern Germany/Austria.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> LEGGE, Captain W. Vincent. <i>A HISTORY OF THE BIRDS OF CEYLON.</i> London, The Author, 1880.
    <b>ANZAAB Joint Catalogue:</b> AUNT HANNAH. <i>SOME ADVENTURES IN THE LIFE OF A COCKATOO.</i> Published in New York by R. Shugg and Co., 1872.
  • <b><center>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Steve Turner Collection<br>of African Americana, Part II<br>December 3, 2020</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> <i>All-Negro Comics</i> Issue #1, 1947. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> Early Memoir of a Black Hairdresser, 1859. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> First Edition <i>Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African,</i> 1782. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b><center>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Steve Turner Collection<br>of African Americana, Part II<br>December 3, 2020</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> Bessie Coleman Aero News Vol. 1 Issue 1, May 1930, Signed by William J. Powell. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> Book of Poetry and Music by Formerly Illiterate Author Thomas Young, 1897. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> Cabinet Card of 24th Infantryman, Tombstone, Arizona Territory, circa 1882. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b><center>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Steve Turner Collection<br>of African Americana, Part II<br>December 3, 2020</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> James Baldwin Portrait by Carl Van Vechten, 1955. $3,500 to $4,500.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> <i>The Pacific Appeal</i> Newspaper, San Francisco, 1877. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> Only Known Copy <i>Spreading Joy,</i> Uplift History of African Americans in Los Angeles, 1937. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Steve Turner Collection<br>of African Americana, Part II<br>December 3, 2020</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> 1940 Los Angeles <i>The Official Central Avenue District Directory.</i> $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> GRÉGOIRE, Henri (French, 1750-1831). <i>An Enquiry Concerning the Intellectual and Moral Faculties, and Literature of Negroes,</i> First American Edition, 1810. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec 3:</b> 1893 Indian Territory Album with Images of Tacky Grayson. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b><center>Gonnelli<br>December 1st<br>Antique and modern prints,<br>drawings and paintings</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli<br>December 2nd<br>Photographs, autographs, musical works and manuscripts</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli<br>December 3rd<br>Books from XV to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli<br>December 3rd<br>Mathematics books</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli<br>December 3rd<br>Art books from Salvador Dalí<br>& others</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>English Literature, History, Science,<br>Children’s Books and Illustrations<br>1 – 8 December, 2020</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 1-8 Dec.:</b> JAMES OF MILAN | <i>Pricking of love,</i> illuminated manuscript in Middle English [England, fifteenth century]. £60,000 to £80,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 1-8 Dec.:</b> BEARDSLEY | <i>The Toilet of Helen,</i> original ink drawing for Savoy, 1895. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 1-8 Dec.:</b> DICKENS | <i>A Christmas Carol,</i> 1844, seventh edition, presentation copy inscribed by the author. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>English Literature, History, Science,<br>Children’s Books and Illustrations<br>1 – 8 December, 2020</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 1-8 Dec.:</b> DARWIN | <i>For Private Distribution... Extracts from Letters addressed to Professor Henslow...,</i> 1835, original wrappers. £70,000 to £90,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 1-8 Dec.:</b> DEFOE | Autograph manuscript poem, 'Resignation', 1708. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 1-8 Dec.:</b> GRAHAME | <i>The Wind in the Willows,</i> 1908, first edition, dust-jacket. £12,000 to £16,000.
  • <center><b>Firsts Online Rare Book Fair<br> 27 November to 2 December<br><br> Presented by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Music, Continental Books<br>and Medieval Manuscripts<br>24 Nov. – 1 Dec. 2020<br>Online</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 24 Nov. – 1 Dec.:</b><br>F. Schubert. Autograph letter to his brother Ferdinand, 4 pages, Zseliz, 1818. £80,000 to £120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 24 Nov. – 1 Dec.:</b><br>L. v. Beethoven. Fine autograph letter to his librettist Friedrich Treitschke, about their planned opera, 1815. £70,000 to £90,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 24 Nov. – 1 Dec.:</b> Hermann Hesse, Highly important series of 62 letters and postcards to Stefan Zweig, 1903-1938. £60,000 to £80,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Music, Continental Books<br>and Medieval Manuscripts<br>24 Nov. – 1 Dec. 2020<br>Online</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 24 Nov. – 1 Dec.:</b> Book of Hours, Use of Reims, illuminated manuscript on vellum [France, late 15th century]. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 24 Nov. – 1 Dec.:</b> Armenian gospel book, illuminated manuscript on vellum, seventeenth century, tooled calf binding. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 24 Nov. – 1 Dec.:</b><br>C. Goldoni. Ten autograph letters signed to the Genoese nobleman Cristoforo Spinola, Venice 1742-1743. £7,000 to £9,000.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>December Sale<br>December 5, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> SHERBURNE, BRANTZ, and WIRGMAN. The Original Drawings of the First Modern Scientific Survey of the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay. $350,000 to $500,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> LAFON, Barthelemy. The Earliest Comprehensive Survey of Louisiana and its Adjacent Regions. $350,000 to $450,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> Giacomo GASTALDI. The Most Important Renaissance Wall Map of Asia Published in the 16th Century – with all four sheets having full margins. $300,000 to $400,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>December Sale<br>December 5, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> CAO, Junyi. The Most Important Map of China to Come to Market in 50 Years. One of only three known copies of the last Ming Dynasty world map. $325,000 to $375,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> ORTELIUS, Abraham. Ortelius Atlas Spanish 1588 Magnificently Rich Original Hand Color in Full. $225,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> An Exceptionally Fine and Historically Important Manuscript Map Showing the Origins of Texas in the 19th Century. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>December Sale<br>December 5, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> PRICE, William and BONNER, John. Map of Boston 1769. $225,000 to $325,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> John James AUDUBON. Audubon’s Brilliant Icon, That Has Never Been Equaled for Drama. $150,000 to $250,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> Pierre-Joseph REDOUTE. Original Watercolor, Red Lily. $175,000 to $250,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>December Sale<br>December 5, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> John James AUDUBON. The Most Famous Image of a Bird in All of History. $150,000 to $200,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> Martin WALDSEEMULLER. The Finest Example in Existence of Martin Waldseemuller’s Map of the New World, with Spectacular Full Original Color. $150,000 to $200,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Dec. 5:</b> GORDON, Peter. The First State of the First View of Savannah: The Template for American Urban Planning. $100,000 to $150,000.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Livres et Manuscrits<br>7 – 15 December, 2020</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 7 – 15 Dec.:</b> [RELIURE BRODÉE]. <i>Horae beatissimae...</i> Anvers, 1570. Reliure brodée de la Renaissance aux armes du duc d'Anjou. €50,000 to €70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 7 – 15 Dec.:</b> ARTOIS, comte d', futur Charles X. 75 lettres autographes au comte de Vaudreuil entre 1792 et 1804. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 7 – 15 Dec.:</b> [Pascal, Blaise]. <i>Lettres de A. Dettonville ...</i> Paris, 1658-1659. Rarissime édition originale en reliure de l'époque. €30,000 to €50,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Livres et Manuscrits<br>7 – 15 December, 2020</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 7 – 15 Dec.:</b> Aragon, Louis. Ens. de 8 ouvrages avec envois à Jacques Lacan, dont "Blanche et l'oubli", 1967, sur grand papier. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 7 – 15 Dec.:</b> Fermat, Pierre de. <i>Varia opera mathematica.</i> Toulouse,1679. Petit in-folio. Edition originale. De la bibliothèque de Jacques Lacan. €6,000 to €8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 7 – 15 Dec.:</b> Leduc, Violette. <i>La Bâtarde.</i> 1958-1963. Important manuscrit autographe, premier jet. 20 cahiers, env 2048 p. ms. €40,000 to €60,000.

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