Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2016 Issue

Valentine's Day: Collectors to take their wives and husbands to Pasadena?

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Highlight items from Bonhams' sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts

Serious book collectors may be in a bit of a conundrum this February. From what I’ve heard from my Dad Bruce, it’s pretty rare for there to be a book collecting couple. Usually, one person is the collector, while their partner wonders when the collection will be complete and the madness over. So for Valentine’s Day this year, collectors in relationships may have to make a choice, or do a lot of convincing, because the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair takes place the same weekend, February 12th through the 14th in Pasadena. And on top of that, Bonhams is hosting a sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts. With 173 lots of material ranging from the 12th century to the 20th, and several landmark lots, collectors may find themselves pitching the romantic elements of southern California to their significant others in order to attend the fair and the auction.

For a sale entitled Fine Books and Manuscripts, it’s a little ironic that the item with the highest estimate of the sale is not really a book or even printed. Dr. Kary Mullis’ 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (awarded for his invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction) is said item, and while it does come with his printed diploma, as well as a signed copy of Mullis’ Nobel lecture, typed letters signed by Bill and Hillary Clinton, and five photographs, the Nobel medal itself, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, is the centerpiece of the lot. Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious in whichever category they are awarded, and when offered at auction, they do not come cheaply. This one is estimated $450,000 – 550,000.

However, there are indeed lots made up entirely of printed material available for sale. Lot 80, for example, is the first edition and first issue of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. The enormity of the impact of Darwin’s thinking and writing cannot be understated as he changed (most of) mankind’s perspective on natural history permanently. Darwin’s masterpiece is estimated $70,000 – 90,000.

Another equally famous first edition will also be for sale. Joyce’s Ulysses, widely regarded as one of, if not the most important work in modernist literature, and still universally read, studied and analyzed in higher education today, appears at auction not infrequently. However, first editions are significantly rarer, and presentation copies even more so. This copy is number 282 of 750, and bears Joyce’s inscription to Lewis Galantiere, an American translator of French literature, writer, playwright, and journalist. This is also the earliest known presentation copy of Ulysses after the one given to Nora Joyce on the day of publication. The inscription to Galantiere is dated nine days later. Ulysses is estimated $40,000 – 60,000.

The last item I want to highlight is a fine subscriber’s copy of McKenney and Hall’s seminal work History of the Indian Tribes of North America. This is material I have looked over myself, as my Dad Bruce is a former owner (his copy sold in his auction of The American Experience in 2010). Digital images of these prints, of which there are 120, do not do them justice, and I highly recommend previewing the auction in person either in San Francisco (Feb. 4th-6th) or in Pasadena (Feb. 11th-14th). In terms of native American content, McKenney and Hall are unsurpassed. This copy, lot 155, is estimated $40,000 – 60,000.

All 173 lots of the sale are viewable online on Bonhams' website. Bidding is available via the standard methods—live, phone, fax, internet. If you plan on bidding, please register here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. Sold for $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. Sold for $65,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Louise Bourgeois, <i>He Disappeared Into Complete Silence,</i> portfolio with complete text & 9 engravings, 1947. Sold for $413,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Erich Maria Remarque, <i>All Quiet on the Western Front,</i> first American edition, Boston, 1929. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, gouache & watercolor illustration for Homer's <i>Odyssey,</i> 1924. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Kurt Vonnegut, archive of 12 letters, signed to his family, 6 illustrated, 1930s-40s. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>Lady Windermere's Fan,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, London, 1893. Sold for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>St. Moritz,</i> 1918. Sold for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> R.J. Waters, 3 panoramas of the San Francisco earthquake & fire, 1906. Sold for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Album with 200 cartes-de-visite, including images by Felice Beato, John Thompson & F.W. Sutton, Japan & China, 1863-69. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. Sold for $40,000.
  • <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>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

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