• <b><center>Doyle<br>Fine Literature<br>Online Auction<br>June 8 to June 22</b>
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> CALDWELL, ERSKINE. <i>Tobacco Road,</i> First Edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> ELIOT, GEORGE. <i>Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life.</i> Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1871-72. First edition in book form. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> BYRON, GEORGE GORDON NOEL, LORD. <i>Don Juan.</i> London: the Thomas Davison; John Hunt; John and H.L. Hunt, 1819-24. First edition. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> [BURNEY, FRANCES]. <i>Evelina, Or, A Young Lady's Entrance into the World.</i> London: T. Lowndes, 1778. First edition. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Doyle<br>Fine Literature<br>Online Auction<br>June 8 to June 22</b>
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> SHEPARD, ERNEST H. Colored drawing of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet, in an autograph letter signed by Shepard. Dated February 29th, 1932. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> CARROLL, LEWIS (CHARLES LUTWIDGE DODGSON). <i>The Nursery "Alice".</i> London: MacMillan, 1890. Second (first published) edition. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> DANA, RICHARD HENRY, Jr. <i>Two Years Before the Mast.</i> New York, 1840. First edition with an autograph letter signed by Dana laid-in. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> FINE BINDING-RIVIERE] HAZLITT, WILLIAM. <i>Liber Amoris: or, the New Pygmalion.</i> London: John Hunt, 1823. First edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE COPY OF “GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.” SWIFT, JONATHAN. 1667-1745. London: Benj. Motte, 1726. US$ 80,000 - 120,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE. 1600-1659. <i>[Virtudes del Indio....]</i> US$ 80,000 - 120,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> ORIGINAL HARRY HOUDINI TYPED MANUSCRIPT. <i>A Magician Among the Spirits.</i> Autograph corrections by Houdini throughout, c.1923-1926.<br>US$ 20,000 - 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE OF THE RARE HARDCOVER EDITION ROWLING, J.K. <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.</i> London: Bloomsbury, 1997. US$ 30,000 - 50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> FIRST APPEARANCE IN AMERICA OF MUSIC FOR "(AMERICA) MY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE." LYON, JAMES. 1735–1794. <i>Urania.</i> Philadelphia: William Bradford, 1761. US$ 20,000 - 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). Cañon de Chelley, 1904. Oversized orotone, 17 x 22in in original Curtis Studio frame. US$ 30,000 - 50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). 26 cyanotypes, featuring images of Cheyenne tribes from Volume VI of <i>North American Indian,</i> c.1907, made by Curtis in the field. US$ 30,000 - 50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). The Vanishing Race, 1904. Oversized orotone, 18 x 24in in original Curtis Studio frame. US$ 20,000 - 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). Autograph Logs and Journals from his 1927 Alaska Expedition. US$ 7,000 - 9,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> A ONE SHEET POSTER OF <i>IN THE LAND OF THE HEAD HUNTERS.</i> World Film Corporation, 1914. US$ 4,000 - 6,000
  • <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [CIVIL WAR] -- [SHERIDAN, Philip Henry]. Personal headquarters flag of Philip Henry Sheridan used when he led the 2nd Michigan Cavalry. Spring - Summer 1862. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [EARLY PHOTOGRAPHY]. Half plate daguerreotype of firefighter Walter Van Erven Dorens. [San Francisco]: n.p., [ca 1854-1856]. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [LINCOLNIANA]. Abraham Lincoln banner possibly made for the 1864 presidential campaign. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [REVOLUTIONARY WAR - CONTINENTAL CONGRESS]. [HOLTEN, Dr. Samuel]. An archive of letters related to Danvers, Massachusetts, physician and statesman Dr. Samuel Holten. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD]. CARBUTT, John, photographer. Exceptional collection of 27 stereoviews from the series, "Excursion to the 100th Meridian, October 1866." Chicago, [1866]. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [ALASKAN GOLD RUSH]. William Steele West and family, extensive archive of photographs, diaries, correspondence, and personal items. [Ca 19th - 20th century]. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [TAYLOR, Zachary]. Quarter plate daguerreotype featuring the 12th President of the United States. N.p.: n.p., [ca 1845]. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [WASHINGTON, George]. Signed Society of the Cincinnati document. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph endorsement signed ("A. Lincoln"), as President. [Washington], 29 September 1862. 1 page, 4to, old creases. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> JEFFERSON, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th. Jefferson"), as United States President, to Robert Patterson. Washington DC, 2 July 1805. 1 page, 4to, evenly toned, small tear from seal. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [EARLY PHOTOGRAPHY] -- [ALCOTT, Elizabeth Sewall]. Ninth plate ruby ambrotype attributed to Elizabeth Sewall Alcott. N.p., [ca 1856-1857]. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [WESTERN AMERICANA]. RUSSELL, Andrew Joseph, photographer. <i>Salt Lake City, From the Top of the Tabernacle.</i> [1869]
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts<br>Online Auction 5–15 June</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> Machiavelli.<br><i>Il Principe,</i> Florence, 1532, later Danish half calf. £70,000 to £90,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> The Sundial of Ahaz, two diagrams on a leaf from Nicholas of Lyra's <i>Literal Commentary,</i> [France, c.1360-80]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> Homer. <i>The whole works,</i> translated by Chapman, London, [1616?], calf. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> Jonathan Swift. Autograph letter signed, to the Duke of Dorset, in support of his friend Thomas Sheridan, 22 March 1735. £8,000 to £12,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2018 Issue

Sir Isaac Newton and the Philosopher's Stone

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Manuscript handwritten by Isaac Newton.

The University of Illinois reported that it had recently obtained an important late 17th century document for its Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It did not come cheaply. They paid $275,000 for it at an auction at Bonham's. It was funded by a gift of $500,000 from university graduates Jim and Lionelle Elsesser. It will not be put on display, other than at an unveiling ceremony later this summer, but will be made physically available to scholars and digitized for the rest of the world to see.

 

The document is a handwritten manuscript, eight pages in length, headed Opus Galli Anonymi. That's Latin for "Anonymous Work of the Gauls." It presents detailed instructions for creating the philosopher's stone, the miraculous substance that can turn lead to gold. Of course, it doesn't. If it actually told us how to prepare it, this would be worth a lot more than $275,000. For centuries, people sought this wondrous substance that would make them rich. It does not exist, though perhaps someday we will figure out how to split apart lead atoms and turn them to gold.

 

You may think this document was prepared by some 17th century alchemist, a pseudo-scientist kook fruitlessly seeking riches. It was not. It was created by one of the greatest scientific minds that ever lived. This manuscript was handwritten by that great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton. As the heading suggests, it was not Newton's original work. He copied it from some French writer, quite possibly translated it as well. We don't know who the author was as no record of it has shown up anywhere else. It must not have been published. However, this does not mean that Newton contributed nothing more than a scribe. It has numerous deletions and replacements. Either he added something to it, or was such a poor scribe or translator that he had to constantly correct his work.

 

That still leaves us with the question, what was a legitimate scientist like Newton doing playing around with alchemy? Einstein didn't do that. I guess Newton was no Einstein? Well, actually he was, just in another time. We didn't have a completely separate field for science back then, let alone each separate type of science. There weren't chemists, physicists, astronomers, geologists, alchemists, theologians, and philosophers. They were all philosophers, sometimes with separate specialties, but all philosophers. That's why it was the philosopher's stone, not the alchemist's stone. Newton wrote about physics and chemistry and theology because he was a philosopher. They were all aspects of the same universe to him.

 

Newton dabbled in alchemy, not so much to get rich, as to make discoveries. He thought gravity might be related to some chemical reaction, and what is today chemistry and alchemy were particularly closely related. Besides which, it was thought the philosopher's stone could do other amazing things, such as granting the possessor immortality.

 

Newton was also deeply religious, at least by today's standards, though some of his views were sufficiently unorthodox in his day he feared for his life if he revealed them. Nevertheless, God figures prominently in the operation of his universe, making the various heavenly bodies move in a predictable manner. Gravity doesn't just happen without a thinking mind behind it. Scientists today would not speak of it this way, but in the age when all fields were combined into philosophy, one could readily move from one to another. Newton was a child of his time, a brilliant one, but still bound by his connection to the 17th century. One can only wonder what he would have come up with had he lived today.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Pablo Neruda, <i>Canto General,</i> first edition, signed by Neruda, artists Rivera & Siquieros, CDMX, 1950. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> James Joyce, <i>Ulysses,</i> deluxe limited issue, signed, London, 1936. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Sergei Rachmaninoff, Autograph Musical Quotation Signed, 3 bars from <i>Piano Concerto No. 2,</i> 1933. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Thomas Edison, Typed Letter Signed, describing preparing first phonograph for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, 1922. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Robert Frost, <i>Collected Poems,</i> author’s presentation copy, signed with <i>Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening</i> inscribed, NY, 1930. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Thomas Mann, Autograph Letter Signed to his children, 3 pages on exiles, 1938. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Alighiero Boetti & Anne-Marie Sauzeau-Boetti, <i>Classifying the thousand longest rivers in the world,</i> limited edition, 1977. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Agnes Martin, <i>Paintings & Drawings,</i> complete set of 10 lithographs, 1990. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Autograph Letter Signed to Whig activist George W. Rives, Springfield, 1849. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Tolomeo, Claudio. <i>Cosmographia.</i> Ulma, Lienhart Holle, 16.07.1482.<br>€ 50.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Hondius, Henricus, & Johannes Janssonius. <i>Atlas novus, sive descriptio geographica totius orbis terrarum.</i> Amsterdam, Hondius-Janssonius, 1638. €30.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Castiglione, Baldassarre. <i>Il libro del cortegiano del conte Baldesar Castiglione.</i> Venice, eredi di Aldo, 1528. € 14.000+
    <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Bayer, Johann. <i>Uranometria, omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata, aereis laminis expressa.</i> Augusta, Christoph Mang, 1603.<br>€ 12.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> [Astronomy]. <i>[Scriptores Astronomici veteres].</i> Venezia, Aldo Manuzio, 1499.<br> € 7.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Aristophanes. <i>Aristofanous Komoidiai ennea. Aristophanis Comoediae novem.</i> Venice, Aldo Manuzio, 1498. € 7.000+
    <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Herodotus. <i>Hirodotou logoi ennea [...] Herodoti libri novem quibus musarum indita sunt nomina.</i> Venice, Aldo Manuzio, 1502. € 7.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Tory, Geoffroy. <i>L’art & science de la vraye proportion des lettres attiques, ou antiques.</i> Paris, Vincent Gaultherot, 1549. € 5.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Caterina da Siena. <i>Epistole devotissime de sancta Catharina da Siena.</i> Venice, Aldo Manuzio, 1500. € 4.500+
    <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> [Chess]. Gianuzio della Manzia, Orazio. <i>Libro nel quale si tratta della maniera di giuocar' a scacchi con alcuni sottilissimi partiti.</i> Torino, Antonio Bianchi, 1597. € 3.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Newton, Isaac. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.</i> Amsterdam, Compagnie di Amsterdam, 1714. €2.500+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> [Turkish Empire]. Ramberti, Benedetto. <i>Libri tre delle cose de Turchi.</i> Venice, eredi di Aldo, 1539. €1.500+

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