Dec. 6: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper at Forum Auctions in London

- by Thomas C. McKinney

Highlights from Forum Auctions' sale of Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper

Words that have become immortalized through the HBO show Game of Thrones will ring true this month: Winter is Coming. And with the cold comes a lull in the auction season as the industry takes time to catch its breath from work and connect with family and friends over the holiday. But before the field goes on vacation, we still have several busy weeks of sales, one being Forum Auction’s Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper, taking place Wednesday, December 6th. Four hundred and ninety-two lots will be offered, and they come from a great length of time: the late 8th and early 9th centuries to the 20th.


Images command a significant premium, and it’s no surprise that the sale’s highlights contain quite a few. Also, age is often an important factor in determining value, but in this auction’s case, the highest estimated item is also one of the youngest. François-Louis Schmied’s Histoire Charmante de l’Adolescent Sucre d’Amour (1927) is one of the author’s rarest works, this being one of only 25 copies. “A magnificent Art Deco book,” Histoire features plates, illustrations, and decorations hand-colored by Jean Dunand. As lot 297, it is estimated £20,000 to £30,000.


Captain James Cook and John Webber’s Views in the South Seas (1808) is comprised of 16 hand-colored aquatint plates of views from Cook’s third voyage to the South Seas during the years 1776 to 1780. Included are views of New Zealand, the Resolution and Discovery in the ice fields, Kamchatka, Macao and Krakatoa. This first edition set is available as lot 323 for an estimated £18,000 to £22,000.


Shifting away from images, two important lots carry high value because of their words and historical significance alone. Lot 137 is Shakespeare’s “The Winters Tale,” extracted from the First Folio (1623), and while it’s a bit painful to reflect on the fact that this was once part of a complete First Folio, it’s impressive and rare nonetheless! Just the one play from the First Folio commands an estimate of £12,000 to £18,000. And lot 155 is A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in General Congress at Philadelphia, Setting forth the Causes and Necessity of their taking up Arms (1775). This declaration was a necessary step in the movement for American independence; for creating the Continental Army and paving the way for the Declaration. £15,000 to £20,000 is the estimated value.


A wealth of varied and interesting material makes up the other 488 lots, including but not limited to a signed first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit (lot 262), an early Italian Megillah (Hebrew scroll, lot 56), a Rodolphe Bresdin lithograph (lot 289), and a manuscript commentary on Isaiah dating from the late 8th or early 9th centuries.


Forum Auction’s sale of Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper is scheduled for 10:30am GMT on December 6, 2017 at the Westbury Hotel in London. The catalog can be viewed online here.


Viewing times (GMT):

220 Queenstown Road, London SW8 4LP
Monday 27th November 10.00am – 5.30pm
Tuesday 28th November 10.00am – 5.30pm
Wednesday 29th November 10.00am – 5.30pm

The Westbury Hotel, London W1S 2YF
Monday 4th December 9.30am – 7.30pm
Tuesday 5th December 9.30am – 7.30pm
Wednesday 6th December from 9.30am