Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2016 Issue

June 8: Aristotle's Perfect Gem and the Black Tulip of Presidential Autographs at Bonhams

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Material from Fine Books and Manuscripts mentioned in this auction preview

On June 8th, Bonhams will bring a sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts to its New York showroom. Featuring what they call, "one of the finest printed books to have appeared in these rooms," as well as a wide range of early material, maps, literature, Americana, and autographs spanning the 15th through 20th centuries, many subjects and niches are tapped, and serious collectors will do well to browse the catalog in full. A direct link to the online catalog can be found at the bottom of this auction preview.

The headlining item of the sale happens to be lot number one and has been described as "a perfect gem" in the Syston Park Library catalogue. In Bonhams' own words, Aristotle's De animalibus [De historia animalium. De partibus animalium. De generatione animalium.] (1476) is "the earliest work known of comprehensive natural history written from the perspective of an impartial observer." The specific copy being offered is a first edition and is only one of two known copies printed on vellum, the other kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Any printing of the first edition is exceedingly rare, with three copies appearing at auction since 1978, the most recent occurrence in 2001. The estimated price for such an important rarity is $300,000-500,000.

Map collectors, especially those of the new world, should find several items of interest. The second lot of the sale, Peter Apian's Cosmographia, sive descriptio universi orbis (1584) includes a folding wood-cut world map which is one of the earliest to name America (est. $5,000-7,000). And Lot 27 is Henri Joutel's Journal historique du dernier voyage que feu M. De la Sale fit dans le Golfe de Mexique, pour trouver l'embouchure, et le cours de la Riviere de Missicipi.... (1713), a first edition of the only eye-witness account of the last expedition of the French explorer La Salle and containing a folding engraved map dubbed Carte nouvelle de la Louisiane (est. $8,000-12,000).

Modern literature makes a relatively brief, but strong showing, with a signed first edition of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (lot 79, est. $25,000-35,000) and an incomplete (but considered superior as these were given by the author to friends) limited first edition of T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (lot 77, est. $40,000-60,000).

For natural history enthusiasts, an album of eighty-three gelatin silver print photos from three exploratory voyages to the Artic under the direction of Donald B. MacMillan between 1921 and 1925 may be of interest (lot 12, est. $2,000-3,000). A second octavo edition of Audubon's The Quadrupeds of North America is listed as lot 14 for an estimated $3,000-5,000. Also, be sure to look up lot 16, Pierre Joseph Buc'hoz's Premiere [-Seconde] Centurie de Planches Enluminees et Non Enluminees Representant au Naturel, Ce qui se trouve de plus Interessant et de plus Curieux parmi les Animaux, les Vegetaux et les Mineraux, a four volume set in two parts which contains 200 hand-colored plates and 200 in plain state (est. $14,000-20,000). Lastly, a rare version of George Catlin's [North American Indian Portfolio: Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America] including six additional plates along with the twenty-five original is one of 350 copies printed. This work was among the fruits of Catlin spending eight years living amongst various Native American tribes, and a truer view of Indian life does not exist (lot 117, est. $15,000-20,000).

A fifteen lot run of Amelia Earhart items (lots 124-138) will no doubt appeal to collectors of this particular aviator or of aviation in general. Featuring autographed and signed material, as well as an array of photographs and other miscellaneous items, the foundation of a budding collection or sizeable addition to an existing project is contained within the sale. Also of note and related to aviation are two postcards signed by Wilbur Wright, one depicting the first American woman to fly as a passenger in an airplane (lot 152, est. $3,000-5,000), the other a reproduction of a photograph of the Wright flyer (lot 153, est. $3,000-5,000).

The auction closes with an offering of autographs from the collection of Harry Gould, Jr., the prize being a document signed as President by William Henry Harrison. Only twelve such autographs, called the Black Tulip of Presidential autographs, are known to be in private hands. Harrison held office for a mere thirty days. This superbly rare autograph is listed under lot 183 for an estimated $40,000-60,000. One other lot presidential autograph hounds may be keen on is the preceding lot, number 182 (est. $5,000-8,000), being the autograph of James A. Garfield as President. This one is also rare because of the President's short term; Garfield's lasted six months.

The full catalog for Fine Books and Manuscripts can be accessed on the Bonhams website. Registration prior to bidding is required and can be done online here. The sale begins on June 8 at 1:00 pm EDT.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000
  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, <i>El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha . . . Nueva Edición,</i> first Ibarra edition, Madrid, 1780. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Prayer Book in Latin and French, France, 1530-40s. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin, France, mid-15th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b><br><i>Die Ernsthaffte Christenpflicht,</i> earliest known edition of the first complete Mennonite prayer book, 1708. $300 to $500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Georg Agricola, <i>De ortu & causis subterraneorum Lib V.,</i> first edition, Basel, 1546. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Frederick Ruysch, <i>Icon durae matris in concava [convexa] superficie visae,</i> with 2 mezzotints by Jan Ladmiral, first edition, Amsterdam, 1737. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, <i>Eine Neue Art von Strahlen,</i> Würzburg, 1895. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pietro Carrera, <i>Il Gioco de gli Scacchi,</i> first edition, Militello, 1617. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> William Lithgow, <i>The Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures</i> [etc.], London, 1632. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Michel de Nostradamus, <i>The True Prophecies or Prognostications,</i> first complete edition in English, London, 1672. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pseudo-Methodius, <i>De revelatione facta . . . beato Methodio,</i> Basel, 1504. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Hrabanus Maurus, <i>De laudibus sancte crucis opus,</i> Pforzheim, 1503. $1,000 to $2,000.

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