Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2015 Issue

Dec. 1: Must-see Science & Medicine Books from Christie's London

Signature items of Christie's Science & Medicine Books from the Royal Institution

Technically not a November sale, Christie’s London’s December 1st sale of Science & Medicine Books from the Royal Institution of Great Britain is close enough that we’re including it in our November issue. I’ve covered other sales this month that carry a wide variety of material and will appeal to a broad audience. This sale is different—its offering focused, the grouping tight, and the material premium. Chances are, if science and medicine books are a sweet spot for you, this sale is already in your sights. If by chance it’s not, here’s an advance notice that it should be.

Most sales have a singular gem; one lot that blows everything else out of the water. This auction has several, beginning with what has been called the “most famous anatomical work ever published, … and the milestone in all medical history” in the medical bibliographical reference Heirs of Hippocrates. The item in question is lot 284, Andreas Vesalius’ 1543 publication of De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. Benefitting from what was at the time, cutting-edge (no pun intended) human dissection, this work with over 200 woodcut illustrations is a seminal work that fundamentally altered the course of anatomical study. Important items usually carry a premium, and important items wrought with images more so. Lot 284 is estimated for £140,000-220,000 ($214,760-337,480).

Standing on equal ground in terms of significance with Vesalius’ work, lot 245 is a first edition of famed astronomer Johannes Kepler’s most important work—Astronomia nova, seu physica coelestis, tradita commentariis de motibus stellae Martis, ex observationibus G.V. Tychonis Brahe, printed in Heidelberg in 1609. Astronomia nova contains the first enunciation of what he is most famous for: the first two laws of planetary motion, being the law of elliptical orbits, and the law of equal area. With only ‘a few copies’ (Kepler’s words) printed, this is a rare and important item. It is estimated £90,000-120,000 ($138,060-184,080).

The next item has been in Institution hands for over 200 years. It’s another high profile scientific item, being William Gilbert’s De magnete, magneticisque corporibus, et de magno magnete tellure; Physiologia nova, plurimis & argumentis, & experimentis demonstrate. Perhaps the first great scientific book printed in England (published in London in 1600), Gilbert was a key figure in the development of electrical science and coined the terms “electricity,” “electric force,” and “electric attraction.” His theories on magnetism were used by Galileo when developing support of Copernican heliocentric cosmology, and his work was cited by Digby, Boyle, Kepler, and Huygens. This was an important scientist, and you can obtain one of his books for an estimated £40,000-60,000 ($61,360-92,040) as lot 233.

You’d be forgiven if this next lot flew under your radar. It is not of medical or scientific origin, and therefore finds itself placed somewhat at odds with its peers in a sale of other medical and scientific material. Lot 234 is a first edition of the Federalist Papers written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed Upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787 contains all 85 of the essays that were written in defense of the newly drafted Constitution, as well as the complete text of the Constitution. Equally at home in a library of American history or political science, lot 234 is estimated £40,000-60,000 ($61,360-92,040).

With a concentrated focus, and relatively low number of lots (90), the catalog of Science & Medicine Books from the Royal Institution is must read material for serious collectors of the genres. All lots may be browsed on Christie’s website. The sale takes place on Tuesday, December 1st, at 2:30 London time at Christie's King Street location. If you plan on bidding on the sale, please make sure to register with Christie's beforehand.

Rare Book Monthly

  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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