Auction Preview: Bonhams' History of Science
- by Thomas C. McKinney
It's rare for AE to feature an auction preview where the headlining item isn't considered part of books, maps, or ephemera, but Bonhams New York's History of Science on October 22nd is one such sale. The sale contains many items that will be added to the AE Database once its results are posted--everything on paper. However, those items are not the reason why the sale has been featured in the news recently.
The reason this sale is particularly significant is lot 286, which is a functioning motherboard for the Apple I computer, the first pre-assembled personal computer to ever be sold. This began the modern computing era. You can see a neat video hosted on Bonhams website of the Apple I in action by clicking here. You could buy many brand new modern day Apple computers for the estimated price of the Apple I ($300,000-500,000), and they'd be faster and more capable by light years, but this computer is truly a piece of history. Working Apple Is have sold for huge amounts recently.
The range of topics covered in this general sale of science is broad. The following are highlights and interesting items available for bidding.
Lot 58w, being an archive of pioneering astronomer, photographer and telescope designer George Willis Ritchey. Contained within the lot are hundreds of photographs of the universe as well as glass slides, and books on astronomy. Estimated $450,000-550,000.
Lot 48, Johannes Kepler’s last publication, Tabulae Rudolphinae, quibus Astronomicae scientiae, temporum longinquitate collapsae Restauratio continetur, which was later called “the foundation of all planetary calculations for over a century” by Ruth Sparrow in her Milestones of Science.
Lot 74, Nathaniel Wallich’s Plantae Asiaticae Rariores, or, Descriptions and Figures of a Select Number of Unpublished East Indian Plants. Contains 295 full page hand-colored lithograph plates. Estimated $35,000-55,000.
Lot 78, an exhibition broadside entitled “Great American Mastodon!! Now Exhibiting at the Hall”, circa 1846. Estimated $2,000-3,000.
Lots 128 through 132 are superb prints of human muscles by Arnauld-Eloi Gautier D’Agoty. Each of them estimated $1,200-1,800.
Lot 142, for those interested in plastic surgery, an untitled article on Hindu rhinoplasty is the first Western reference on the pratice that would later take LA by storm. Estimated $800-1,200.
Autograph Letters Signed
Lot 80, ALS by Charles Darwin containing questions about the reproductive act among barnacles. Estimated $20,000-30,000.
Lots 256, 257 and 259, being autograph letters and postcards signed by Albert Einstein. Estimated $5,000-8,000; $2,500-3,500; $3,000-5,000.
Lots 276-278, being an autograph letter, photograph and document signed by Thomas Edison. Estimated $1,500-2,000; $1,500-2,000; $1,000-1,500.
Bidding for the sale begins on October 22, 2014 at 1pm EDT. The sale's catalogue is available for viewing in its entirety on Bonhams' website. Bidding is available in person, over the phone, and over the internet. Prospective bidders using Bonhams' website must register prior on their site, direct link to registration here.