Christie's London in November: Cricket, Adult Material, and An Atlas of Epic Proportion

- by Thomas C. McKinney

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Snapshots from Christie's upcoming November sales

This month three auctions from Christie’s London pertain to AE’s focus on books, maps, manuscripts, and ephemera. Beginning with November 5th, Two Important Sporting Libraries will take place over the course of two sessions on that day at Christie’s South Kensington location. Later in the month and moving over to their King Street address, Highlights from the Erotica Library of Tony Fekete takes place on the 18th, with Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books following the next day on the 19th. With no two sales containing overlapping material, Christie’s footprint in November is significant.

Two Important Sporting Libraries is made up of 260 lots and strongly focuses on the sport of cricket. A significant run of John Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanack is available as individual lots, and the sales two most valuable items based on estimation are both cricket-related. The first, Samuel Britcher’s A Complete list of all the Grand Matches of Cricket that have been played in the year 1801 is one of four known copies. The item is available as lot 51 and is estimated £25,000 - 35,000. The other, Frederick Lillywhite’s The Young Cricketer’s Guide [and] The Guide to Cricketers is a full 25 volume set containing the famous Lillywhite guides. As stated before, Two Important Sporting Libraries takes place on November 5th at Christie’s London, South Kensington facility. Full details of the sale including an e-catalogue may be found on Christie’s website here, as well as online registration for bidding.

Next chronologically is Highlights from the Erotica Library of Tony Fekete. Before I continue, I will copy a note from Christie’s website: WARNING: THIS SALE CONTAINS ADULT MATERIAL NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS. That should have definitely been the article title. Containing 221 lots, this sale is what I would call... more visually engaging, at least to my 28 year-old eyes. All sorts of material are present, including two erotic alphabet books (who knew typography could be that interesting), homoerotic watercolours, and good old fashioned nude photographs. The sale’s highest value items are both copies of the Marquis de Sade’s influential and infamous work Justine. Lot 179, the “very rare true first edition,” is one of perhaps less than five copies known. Estimated at £70,000 - 100,000, owning one of those copies will not come cheaply. Highlights from the Erotica Library of Tony Fekete takes place on November 18th at Christie’s London, King Street location. Full details of the sale including an e-catalogue may be found on Christie’s website here, and again, registration for bidding online is also on their website.

Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books has the difficult task of following up an act made up in large part by nudity. However, that is rendered null by the fact this sale is the only one with an item priced with seven figures. With 87 lots, it is the smallest of the three sales, but if one particular lot sells, it will far outweigh the other two combined. Lot 45, Grazioso Benincasa’s Portolan Atlas, signed and dated by the man himself, is the sale’s crown jewel. Dated 1468 from Venice, this manuscript atlas contains seven charts, two of which are the earliest known depictions of their subjects--the west coast of Africa and Ireland. This item in question is a legendary piece for the most dedicated map collectors.The sale takes place on November 19th at Christie’s London, King Street location. Full details of the sale including an e-catalogue and auction registration may be found on Christie’s website here.