Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2016 Issue

Two sales Dec. 7 at Bonhams: History of Science & Voices of the 20th Century

Highlight items from Bonhams' Dec. 7 sales of History of Science & Technology and Voices of the 20th Century

If you happen to be in New York on December 7, Bonhams has two superb reasons to stop by their location on Madison Ave. At 11am, 98 lots of History of Science and Technology will be up for bidding, followed at 1pm by 309 lots of Voices of the 20th Century. Both sales contain material by some of the most important figures in their fields—Einstein, Newton, and Darwin in Science, and Hemingway, Salinger, and Steinbeck in Voices.

History of Science and Technology is the first sale of the day. A first edition, monograph issue of Einstein’s general theory of relativity (Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie, Leipzig, 1916), signed by him with a scientific inscription to boot, has the distinction of carrying the highest estimate for a work on paper: $80,000 – 120,000. Less applicable to the focus of Rare Book Hub, but nonetheless incredibly fascinating and of vital importance to the outcome of World War II, several enigma enciphering machines, some still functioning (though the codes were long ago broken!), bear estimates reaching $200,000 and 300,000+.

Three items by Sir Isaac Newton are included in the sale. Lot 1061 is an autograph manuscript tracing his genealogy, which was motivated by his impending knighthood, and is a unique “testament to Newton’s preoccupation with his own heritage, as well as his incessant need to organize and codify all kinds of information” (Bonhams). The following lot, 1062, is a first edition of Newton’s Principia in English—The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (London, 1729). Principia was first published in Latin in 1687 and has been called the greatest work in the history of science (PMM 161). The final Newton item is a first edition of Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (London, 1733). Estimates for these three lots are as follows:

1061: $50,000 – 70,000

1062: $20,000 – 30,000

1063: $400 – 600

Charles Darwin is of course most famous for his theory of evolution posited in his On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which wasfirst published in 1859. Lot 1051, estimated at $25,000 – 35,000, is one such copy of this groundbreaking first edition.

Devoted collectors and students of physics are undoubtedly familiar with the name Werner Heisenberg. For the rest of us, the AMC TV show Breaking Bad might have been our first encounter with the name when the show’s protagonist, Walter White, adopts the pseudonym Heisenberg. Though not as famous in pop culture as some of his contemporaries, Heisenberg was a leading mind in the development of quantum mechanics theory and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932 for the creation of it. Lot 1085 is an autograph manuscript by the man, being his draft lecture notes on the history of particle physics and the meaning of unified field theory from 1964. It can be yours for an estimated $15,000 – 25,000.

Moving on to the second sale of the day, Voices of the 20th Century contains 309 lots of books as well as many autograph manuscripts and other signed items, art books, and drawings. Russian literature and film is well represented, if not in the number of items, then certainly in quality. Highlights of the sale have to include the working script of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky for the film Stalker (lot 218, est. $150,000 – 200,000), a rare carbon copy of the typed manuscript for Boris Pasternak’s “Doktor Zhivago” (lot 143, est. $30,000 – 50,000), and an inscribed presentation copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s first book, Odin den Ivana Denisovicha [One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich] (lot 147, est. $15,000 – 20,000).

Collectors of Hemingway likely have had this sale on their radars for some time. The first 73 lots of the sale are dedicated to the man, coming in the form of his books, manuscripts, letters, photographs, and even a custom leather hunting vest he wore. One particularly compelling and unique lot out of these 73 is lot 32, which contains an amalgamation of items related to the first of a series of travel-sport letters that Hemingway produced for the magazine Esquire. Included are the typed manuscript of “Marlin Off the Morro: A Cuban Letter” [1933] which was published in the Autumn 1933 issue of Esquire, 18 black and white photographs which made up the complete original set of illustrations accompanying the article, an autograph letter signed by editor Arnold Gingrich about the article with minor edits in Hemingway’s hand, and finally, a copy of the magazine itself. Lot 32 is estimated at $30,000 – 50,000.

J.D. Salinger was always known as a very private man. Lot 144 of Voices of the 20th Century represent a small, but intimate view into the mind and daily life of a man who was renowned for his guardedness. Ten letters, four autograph and six typed, written to a young woman Salinger befriended in the late 1970s share the author’s “full voice” on topics including writing, films, novels, music he loves, Eastern religion and philosophy, homeopathic medicine, his son, Matthew, as well as other subjects. This one of a kind collection is estimated at $30,000 – 50,000.

Twenty-nine lots of Steinbeck are being offered in the sale, comprising books and manuscripts. Two first editions stand out, the first being a first issue, family copy of Cup of Gold (New York, 1929), signed by the author. Cup of Gold is listed as lot 84 with an estimate of $15,000 – 20,000. The second standout is The Grapes of Wrath (New York, 1939), signed and inscribed by Steinbeck, and listed as lot 95 for an estimated $12,000 – 18,000.

Bonhams’ sale of History of Science and Technology takes place Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 11am eastern time at their Madison Ave location. Voices of the 20th Century takes place the same day in the same location at 1pm. Bidding is available via the usual methods: live, telephone, absentee, and online. Catalogs for both sales are available on the Bonhams website here:

-       History of Science and Technology

-       Voices of the 20th Century

Rare Book Monthly

  • 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
  • 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

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