• <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> The Corner-stone Document of Irish Freedom. 1916 PROCLAMATION OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC. £140,000 to £180,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Joyce's Modern Masterpiece, in its one-and-hundredth Year. Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare & Co. 1922. £15,000 to £25,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b>A Request from Mr. Joyce. Joyce (James). Autograph Letter Signed to 'Dear Mr [Thomas] Pugh,' dated 6.8.1934. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dun Emer Press: Yeats (Wm. Butler). <i>Stories of Red Hanrahan,</i> 8vo Dundrum 1904. Signed by Author. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Binding: <i>Specimens of Early English Poets,</i> 8vo Lond. (For Edwards, Pall Mall) 1790. £500 to £700.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Harry Clarke: Walter (L. D'O.) <i>The Years at the Spring,</i> An Anthology of Recent Poetry. 4to New York (Brentano's) 1920. Special signed limited edition. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kipling (Rudyard). <i>Works,</i> including Writings, Novels, Poems etc. Bombay Edition, 31 vols. roy 8vo Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1913-1938. Signed by Author. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dunraven (Edwin, Third Earl of). <i>Notes on Irish Architecture,</i> Ed. by Margaret Stokes, 2 vols. lg. folio Lond. 1875-1877. Castle Hackett copy. £1,500 to £2,400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kirby (Wm.) & Spence (Wm.) <i>An Introduction to Entomology,</i> 4 vols. 8vo Lond. 1822. With hand-coloured plates. £200 to £300.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Heaney (Seamus). <i>Death of a Naturalist,</i> 8vo Lond. (Faber & Faber) 1966 First Edition - Third Impression. Signed, & inscribed on title page 'Seamus Heaney’. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Glasgow Printing: Homer - <i>Iliad and Odyssey,</i> 4 vols. in 2, Glasgow (Robert & Andrew Foulis) 1756-1758. £1,0000 to £1,500.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>1st December 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Illuminated manuscript.- Psalter, Use of Liège, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum, Southern Netherlands (Liège), [c.1270]. £70,000 to £90,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Troy.- Early English provenance.- Columna (Guido de). <i>Historia destructionis Troiae,</i> first edition, one of only four known books from this press, [The Netherlands, ?Utrecht], [c.1477-1479]. £25,000 to £35,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Shute (John). <i>The First and Chief Groundes of Architecture,</i> first edition, 1563; bound with Palladio's Quattro Libri dell'Architettura, 1570. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>1st December 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Martin (John). <i>Paradise Lost: By John Milton,</i> first edition in the original 12 parts, Imperial Quarto issue, Septimus Prowett, 1825-26. £12,000 to £16,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Sagittarius and a medieval town scene with peat barges on a canal as merchants meet and talk and another man cuts wood, Netherlands or Western Germany [perhaps Cologne], 1460-70. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Stoker (Bram). <i>Dracula,</i> first edition, later issue, Graham Greene's copy, Westminster, Archibald Constable & Co., 1897. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>1st December 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Gillray (James). <i>The Plumb-pudding in danger: -or- State Epicures taking un Petit Souper,</i> etching with hand-colouring, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Darwin (Charles). Autograph Letter signed to his cousin Reginald Darwin, 1879, announcing his intention to have translated and add a preface to Ernst Krause's sketch of Dr Erasmus Darwin's life. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> By the Congress of the United States of America. Manifesto. "These United States, having been driven to hostilities by the oppressive and tyrannous measures...,” bound with others, 1778. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>1st December 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Polar.- Benham (Daniel). <i>Sketch of the Life of Jan August Miertsching, Interpreter of the Esquimaux Language to the Arctic Expedition on Board H.M.S. "Investigator", Captain M'Clure,</i> first edition, 1854. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Woman artist.- Unthank (Mary, née Williams). An album of 120 watercolours of views from Italy, Switzerland, France and England; with associated manuscript travel diary, 1860s-1870s. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum, Dec. 1:</b> Gill (Eric).- Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>Troilus and Criseyde,</i> number 159 of 225 copies on hand-made paper, Golden Cockerel Press, 1927. £3,000 to £4,000.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books<br> December 8, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Friedrich Justin Bertuch, <i>Bilderbuch für Kinder,</i> Weimar, 1792, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1822. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster, <i>Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula,</i> Basel, 1552. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster & Hans Holbein, <i>Typus Cosmographicus Universales,</i> Basel, 1532. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Franz Unger, <i>Die Urwelt in Ihren Verschiedenen Bildungsperioden,</i> 16 tinted lithographed plates, Weigel, 1858. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Charles Varle, Wiliam Warner & Andrew Hanna, <i>Plan of the City of Environs of Baltimore,</i> Baltimore, 1801. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b><center>Gonnelli Auction House<br>HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS<br>“From the grand Tour in Italy to the journey to the East”<br>1st of December 2022</b>
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Fratelli Alinari, Alphonse Bernoud, Album with 15 photographs of Florence and Siena, 1860 - 1865. Starting Price: €1.500,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Fratelli Alinari, Lucca. Church of San Michele, 1856. Starting Price: €1.500,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Tommaso Cuccioni, Roma. Colosseo, 1854 - 1855. Starting Price: €800,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Antonio Fortunato Perini, Venezia. Ca’ D’Oro, 1853 – 1855. Starting Price: €1.000,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Lot of 51 photographs by Studio Incorpora: landscapes and views of Sicily, 1885 - 1890. Starting price: €1.200,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Lehnert & Landrock. View of the Tunisian desert, 1904 - 1914. Starting price: €300,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Lehnert & Landrock. Tunisia. Night landscape with nomads at the shores of a lake. Starting price: €400,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Vittorio Sella, Aiguille du Midi, from the Col du Midi, 1881. Starting price: €1.000,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Dec. 1st:</b> Fratelli Alinari. Florence. Giotto's Bell Tower, 1858 - 1860. Starting price: €1.500,00.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2016 Issue

A Shakespeare First Folio, Long Lost, Is Found

Eb4023e9-c4d6-4d81-8920-da5476e27133

The newly discovered First Folio (from Mount Stuart website).

A long lost copy of Shakespeare's First Folio has been discovered, in just the sort of place you would most likely expect to find one – in the forgotten corner of a Scottish castle on the Isle of Bute. For those unfamiliar with the Isle of Bute, Wikipedia describes it as "an island in the Firth of Clyde." Suffice it to say, Bute is an island off the Scottish coast. The castle is Mount Stuart House, built in the 1870's by the 3rd Marquess of Bute. It is large enough to lose a book in there for several centuries.

 

The First Folio was the first compilation of Shakespeare's plays. Published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare died, it preserved many of his works that otherwise would have been lost forever. Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and The Tempest are among the plays that we would not know today but for the First Folio. A group of Shakespeare's friends, realizing much of his work would soon be gone, scoured up scripts and whatever else they could find to publish a book that would preserve his writings. It was followed by three other folio editions in the 17th century, and by then, Shakespeare's work was so prized that countless editions of his plays and poems were published, continuing to this day.

 

A total of 233 copies of the First Folio had been known to survive. Now there are 234. No one knows for certain how many copies were printed, but the estimate is around 750. A First Folio is today one of the most valuable books in the world, a good copy valued at several million dollars.

 

When officials of the Mount Stuart Trust discovered what appeared to be a First Folio, they called in Professor Emma Smith to perform a verification. Ms. Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Oxford University, author of a recent book about the First Folio, an expert on the book. Evidently, Professor Smith was dubious about Mount Stuart's claim to have a First Folio, as the BBC quoted her as saying her initial response was "Like Hell they have." However, a thorough examination convinced her the copy was indeed authentic. Among points checked are the paper and its watermarks, exact type, including errors, and even smudging of thumbprints of the printer. There have been some copies made over the years that look authentic to the untrained eye, but this one is the real deal.

 

Who owned this copy for the first century and a half of its existence is unknown. Ms. Smith was able to first pick up on its history in 1786. It was acquired then by Issac Reed, who prepared a large biography of dramatic writers in 1782. He later re-edited a Samuel Johnson and George Steevens compilation of Shakespeare's works. Correspondence indicates the copy was previously owned by the Shakespearean actor John Henderson. This First Folio contains some of Reed's annotations.

 

It remained with Reed until he died in 1807. It was then put up for sale in a massive auction of The Curious & Expensive Library of the Late Isaac Reed, Esq. of Staple Inn. Deceased. Editor of the Last Edition of Shakespeare, held on November 2, 1807, by King and Lochee. It was item 8,663 (Reed had a very large and expensive library), described as Shakespeare's "Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, first edition, bound in 3 vol. elegant in Russia, and beautifully inlaid by the late Mr. Henderson, additional portraits." The Russia is long gone, having been rebound in goatskin in 1932. However, this copy remains bound in three volumes today as then.

 

It sold for £38, a large sum in 1807, but not outrageously so. It has appreciated in value way more than most other items in the sale. Nevertheless, eventual owner, the 3rd Marquess, commented the price was "too dear," according to a note in Mount Stuart's archives. Instead, it sold to someone with the initials JW.



Who was JW? Here is where it gets tricky. Indeed, this discovery has forced a reconsideration of the long-believed provenance of the copy owned by Sir John Soane's Museum of London. They long thought their copy had come from Reed. As a note on Soane's website says, "Isaac Reed, the Shakespearean editor had owned the copy of the Shakespeare First Folio which became the property of the noted actor John Philip Kemble in 1807, was bought by James Boswell the younger at the Kemble sale in 1821, and was finally purchased by John Britton on Soane's behalf at Sotheby's Boswell sale in 1825." "JW" would be strange initials for John Philip Kemble, but the note comes with a listing for the 1833 sale of J. W. Southgate. Is he "JW?" Did he maybe buy Reed's First Folio on behalf of Kemble? Southgate was himself an auctioneer. Then, if Soane sold it to the family of the Marquess, everything would tie neatly together. Unfortunately, there is one insurmountable problem – Soane's still has their First Folio! Mount Stuart can't have the Kemble/Boswell/Soane copy since Soane's still possesses it.



This apparent misconception goes back over a century. In 1902, Sidney Lee did a census of all the First Folios he could find. In it, he says the Soane copy "possibly" was Henderson's. That no longer seems plausible, unless Henderson had multiple copies. That seems like a long shot, though correspondence indicates Reed may have been given his copy by Henderson, or by his wife after he died, while the Soane website says Reed purchased it for £19 at the Henderson sale. Was that a different Henderson copy that was sold at his sale that made its way to Kemble and then to Soane?



The Reed sale was also described in John Wilson's Catalogue of All the Books, Pamphlets, &c. Relating to Shakespeare (1827), which includes a listing of various First Folio sales. John Wilson? Another J.W.! There's no indication he was the buyer in his description of the sale. Wilson notes that Kemble's copy sold for £112 s7 and was resold at the Boswell sale for £105, but does not connect Kemble's copy with Reed's, or specify it was in three volumes, as was Reed's. It appears to me that the traditional attribution of the Soane copy to Reed, through Kemble and Boswell, must be incorrect, and that its provenance must now be reconsidered. Kemble must have obtained his copy from someone other than Reed.



Here is a guess of what might have happened to Reed's copy. On the page where Soane's was showing what it thought was a connection between Reed's copy and their own, it describes the auction Catalogue of the rare and bijou portion, and a selection of valuable works from the library of Mr. J. W. Southgate, consisting of...collected by the late Isaac Reed... (1833). However, there was no First Folio in the Southgate sale. Still, did J. W. Southgate buy much of this material from the 1807 Reed sale, along with Reed's First Folio, but then sell the folio privately to someone in the Marquess' family? At some point between 1807 and 1896, someone in the Marquess' family obtains the book that was once "too dear," either at a better price or by paying up. We know this because it next appears in a catalogue of the Bute Library in 1896.



Evidently, the library did not publicize its possession too loudly as it does not show up in Sidney Lee's 1902 census of First Folios, that does mention the Soane copy. It remained in obscurity from 1886 until its recent discovery. It seems to disappear from public view for about a century at a time before finally making a reappearance. If you would like to take advantage of this latest sighting of what seems to be Haley's Comet-like brief appearances, it will be on display at Mount Stuart House through October 30.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>The Library of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven<br>Part II<br>29 November 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 29:</b> Nicolas Robert. <i>Florilegium,</i> 15 very fine watercolours of flowers on vellum, 1643. £150,000 to £250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 29:</b> Chinese School. <i>Dessins Originaux Chinois,</i> 9 volumes, early nineteenth century. £60,000 to £90,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 29:</b> Saverio Manetti. <i>Storia naturale degli uccelli,</i> Florence, 1767-1776, 5 vols, fine contemporary calf gilt. £60,000 to £80,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 29:</b> Priscilla Bury. <i>A Selection of Hexandrian Plants,</i> London, 1831, modern red half morocco. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 29:</b> Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin. <i>Icones plantarum rariorum,</i> Vienna, 1781-[95], 3 vols, contemporary half calf. £30,000 to £50,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> PRINCE, RICHARD (1949). <i>Adult Comedy Action Drama,</i> Zürich-Berlin-New York, 1995. €14,000 to €15,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> AVEDON, RICHARD (1923-2004). <i>An Autobiography,</i> New York, Rando, House, 1993. €2,500 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> GRINDAT, HENRIETTE (1923-1986), ALBERT-EDGAR YERSIN (1905-1984) AND FRANCIS PONGE (1899-1988). <i>A la rêveuse matière,</i> Lausanne, 1963. €4,500 to €5,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> GRINDAT, HENRIËTTE (1923-1986), ALBERT CAMUS (1913-1960) AND RENÉ CHAR (1907-1988). <i>Postérité du soleil,</i> Genève, 1965. €2,200 to €2,500.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> GROEBLI, RENÉ (1927). <i>Die Muschel...hommage au féminin…,</i> Zurich, 1984. €2,200 to €2,500.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> KLEIN, WILLIAM (1928-2022). <i>Tokyo,</i> Paris, 1964. €500 to €600.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> KURATA, SEIJI (1945-2020). <i>Flash up. Street Photo Random Tokyo 1975-1979,</i> Tokyo, 1980. €500 to €600.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> MCGINLEY, RYAN (1977). <i>The kids are alright,</i> 2000. €6,000 to €6,500.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 6:</b> SHERIF, MAURICE (1951). <i>Lumière Métallique,</i> Paris, 2008. €400 to €500.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions