Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2017 Issue

A Busy November in Books for Sotheby's London

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Highlight lots from Sotheby's London busy November

It’s a busy November for Sotheby’s, and their London office is no exception. Three noteworthy sales may pique your interest:

  1. The Library of an English Bibliophile Part VII - November 7
  2. Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History - November 14
  3. Musical Manuscripts - November 28

Beginning with The Library of an English Bibliophile, the man behind the collection began acquiring over 50 years ago, and this is the seventh sale of his material since 2010. Part VII contains a great deal of important literature, and three of the four lots carrying the highest estimates fall under this category: a second (but first published) edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a first edition of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man, and an inscribed copy of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest

The Library of an English Bibliophile Part VII is set to take place on November 7 at 10:30 AM BST and its catalog is viewable here.

 

Travels, Atlases, Maps and Natural History is a sale containing the rare lot that carries an estimate of £500,000+. Petrus Apianus’ Astronomicum Caesareum is a big deal. Here’s what Sotheby’s has to say about it:

 

THE MAGNIFICENT J.R. ABBEY COPY OF “THE MOST SPECTACULAR CONTRIBUTION OF THE BOOK MAKER’S ART TO SIXTEENTH-CENTURY SCIENCE” (Gingerich). COPIES AT AUCTION IN CONTEMPORARY BINDINGS ARE OF THE UTMOST RARITY; the last comparable example at auction was the Horblit-Patiño copy, sold in our New York rooms, 21 April 1998. The present copy has a similar distinguished provenance, having formerly been in the library of Major John Roland Abbey (1894–1969), the most prolific English bibliophile of his day, whose collection was famed for its fine condition and quality of binding.

This Astronomicum Caesareum, dedicated to Emperor Charles V and King Ferdinand, has been described as "a miracle of printing in folio format: most of the astronomical schemes and instruments have up to six movable parts. Apian received three thousand gold florins from the dedicatees [and] personal appointment as court mathematician" (Woodward). This work contains a broad analysis of Ptolemaic astronomy and 'is notable for Apianus’ pioneering observations of comets (he describes the appearances and characteristics of five comets, including Halley's) and his statement that comets point their tails away from the sun' (DSB). The text also describes the use of solar eclipses to measure longitude; the author’s inventions of the meteorscope (for solving problems in spherical trigonometry) and the torquetum (a predecessor of the equatorial telescope); and a variety of astrological concerns. Most of Apianus’ observations and theories are illustrated by his inclusion of intricate volvelles, which he believed to be of greater use in providing information on the position and movement of celestial bodies, rather than mathematical formulae. 

APIANUS IS ALSO NOTED FOR INTRODUCING ARABIC STAR NAMES INTO HIS MAPS. In the present work Apianus includes a revision of his 1536 star chart, with the addition of two more Arabic star names (Angentenar in Eridanus, and Yed in Ophiuchus), and two Latin star names which do not appear the 1536 edition. Apianus knew the work of Islamic astronomer Abu 'l-Husain al-Sufi (A.D. 903-986). "Al-Sufi, in his Book on the constellations (written around A.D. 964), gave a detailed account of the 48 classical constellations (which the Arabs knew through translations of Greek astronomical works and through pictorial  representations on globes from other sources), complemented by records of star names of indigenous Arabic origin which he took pains to identify astronomically with the respective Ptolemaic stars. It was from this section on the indigenous Arabic star names in al-Sufi's book that Apian extracted a number of names and mentioned them in his own writings, most of them in the chapter in constellations in his Astronomicum Caesareum of 1540" (Kunitzsch). 

The collation of the work is understandably complex. Gingerich calls for an ideal copy to have 83 volvelles, as here.

 

Travels, Atlases, Maps and Natural History will take place November 14 at 11 AM BST. The catalog is viewable here.

 

Finally, towards the end of November, Musical Manuscripts as of the writing of this article is advertising a single headlining lot: the complete autograph manuscript by Béla Bartók of his Second Rhapsody for violin and piano from 1928. No complete autographed work by Bartók has ever appeared at auction. Needless to say, estimates are lofty, set between £150,000 and £200,000.

Musical Manuscripts is scheduled for 2:30 PM BST on November 28th. The catalog is not yet viewable online, but more information about the sale is available here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jul 15:</b> Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, c. 1930. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Maitres Affiches by MUCHA - Papier a cigarettes Job. 202. $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> De Bry - Map of the West Indies (including Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Parts of Central & South America, Sea Monsters, Ships). $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gould - Short-billed Toucan (Ramphastos Brevicarinatus). $5,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Redoute, Folio - Pale Iris - Iris flavescens. 375. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gillray - Light Expelling Darkness or The Sun of the Constitution. $200 to $500.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gerard - Wild Hemp or Weed, Cannabis. 708. $150 to $450.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Shaw & Nodder - Head of The Dodo. 165. $100 to $300.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.

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