• <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VOLTAIRE. Œuvres complètes. [Kehl], Société littéraire et typographique, 1784-1789. 70 vol. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> <i>ENCYCLOPÉDIE MÉTHODIQUE…</i> Paris, Panckoucke ; Liège, Plompteux, 1782-1832. 254 volumes in-4. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> RUYSCH (FREDERIK). <i>Thesaurus anatomicus primus [–decimus]. Het eerste [–tiende] anatomisch cabinet.</i> Amsterdam, 1701-1716. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [MARCELLO (CRISTOFORO)]. <i>Sacrarum cæremoniarum sive rituum ecclesiasticorum S. Rom. Ecclesiæ libri tres.</i> Venise, Giunta, 1582. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [RABEL (DANIEL)]. <i>Theatrum Floræ, in quo ex toto orbe selecti mirabiles, venustiores, ac præcipui flores, tanquam ab ipsius deæ sinu proferuntur.</i> Paris, Pierre Firens, 1627. €3,000 to €4,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VALERIANO (PIEIRIO). <i>[Hieroglyphica, sive de sacris Ægyptiorum aliarumque gentium literis, commentariorum libri LVIII]…</i> Francfort, 1613-[1614]. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> BRUN (CLAUDE). [Cours manuscrit de Jérôme Dandini sur la Physique d'Aristote et disputes philosophiques des étudiants du collège jésuite de Bourges]. Conclusiones physic… 1579-1580. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> CLERISSEAU (CHARLES-LOUIS). <i>Antiquités de la France. Première partie.</i> [Monuments de Nismes]. Paris, 1778. €1,000 to €1,200.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> LE FÈVRE (L.-C.). <i>Grand escalier du château de Versailles, dit escalier des ambassadeurs, ordonné et peint par Charles Le Brun.</i> Paris, s.d. €800 to €1,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KEPLER INVESTIGATES PLANETARY MOTION. KEPLER, JOHANNES. 1571-1630. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> THE FINAL ILLUSTRATION OF POOH AND PIGLET IN THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GUTENBERG BIBLE LEAF. $60,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ORTELIUS, ABRAHAM. 1527-1598. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. "Christmas Dinner at Maxime de la Falaise's" $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GERSHWIN WORKING MUSICAL MANUSCRIPT PAGE FROM <i>OF THEE I SING.</i> $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GILBERT, W.S. Original typed manuscript for <i>The Story of the Mikado.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> FINAL TYPED MANUSCRIPT FOR V.C. ANDREWS CLASSIC <I>FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.</I> $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ANNOTATED TYPESCRIPT DRAFT FOR KIPLING'S FINAL MOWGLI STORY. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> PRESENTATION COPY OF GUYS AND DOLLS. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> CHARLES DICKENS' CHINA INKWELL FEATURING A BEE READING, FROM GAD'S HILL. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> NELSON'S BATTLE PLAN FOR TRAFALGAR. $200,000 to $300,000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Age of Wonder<br>Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles. His definitive statement on natural selection, and his legacy. $600,000 to $800,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin announces the theory of natural selection. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Jenner, Edward. Autograph letter, addressed to Dr. Wollaston, dated 21 November 1800, discussing the possible ill-effects of vaccination. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Age of Wonder<br>Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> De Quincey, Thomas. Autograph letter signed (Thos. De Quincey). "A conclusive experiment on the profit of leaving of leaving off opium.” $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Melville, Herman. <i>Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.</i> New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. “And God created great whales.” $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Foote, Eunice Newton. "Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun's rays," [In:] <i>The American Journal of Science and Arts…</i> New York, 1856. $8,000 to $12,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2018 Issue

"The Holy Grail of Whiskey" Sells for $1.1 Million

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The Whiskey bottle, and close up of the label.

In news from the world of collectibles, a bottle of whiskey sold last month at Bonham's for $1.1 million. It is described as the "Holy Grail of Whiskey." Holy Cow! Did someone drink up that bottle before, instead of after, the auction?

 

In case you are wondering why this news is appearing on a site devoted to collecting books and paper, other than that some collectors have been known to tip a few on occasion, it appears that the price was based more on the paper label on the bottle than on what is inside. The whiskey itself was produced by the Macallan Distillers, distilled in 1926. They didn't get around to bottling it until 1986 (hence the 60 years on the label). It is aged, and undoubtedly quite good, but that doesn't make it worth $1.1 million. It's mostly the label.

 

The label was created in 1986 by Italian artist Valerio Adami. Adami himself is still very much alive, now age 83. I must confess that I had not heard of him prior to this sale. He was described as an expressionist in his early career, developing a more distinctive style later on. His drawings often feature black line borders on the figures within his images, even those in color. As far as I can tell, he is not one of the world's best-known artists. He is not up there with fellow countryman Michelangelo. Still, some people obviously appreciate his work. Perhaps he goes best with a glass of whiskey.

 

There were 12 of these Adami whiskey bottles produced in 1986. Another one went earlier this year for the more modest price of $1.05 million. It is not known how many of them still exist. Did someone foolishly drink theirs up and toss out the bottle in 1986?

 

If one considers this a "work on paper," rather than a work on a bottle, looking back at last year's auction prices in the field, this would have been the fifth most expensive item for the entire year. Only an early printing of the Declaration of Independence, a handwritten note from Albert Einstein, an autograph manuscript by Honoré de Balzac, and a 1460 printed Bible, would have beat it out. Darwin, Washington, even another fellow countryman, Galileo, trailed far behind.

 

Is it worth $1.1 million? You can look at the image above and decide for yourself (click to enlarge). I don't know. She looks as perplexed as I am. I guess it's sort of interesting. Not particularly my taste, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don't think I would pay $1.1 million for it, but thankfully, I don't have enough money to have to confront that decision. The buyer was not so lucky, having to make this difficult choice. Perhaps when he (she?) thinks about that choice more clearly, he will want to drink what's inside.

 

 

*See the Letters to the Editor for a comment on this article.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop<br>Catalogue 195<br>Magnificent Books & Manuscripts<br>Free on request</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Benjamin Franklin on Electricity. Inscribed presentation copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Frederick Douglass. Letter on civil war and the end of slavery.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Carleton Watkins. A major American West photo album.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Einstein. General Theory of Relativity inscribed by Einstein.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> The Federalist. Rare deluxe thick-paper copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Emma Johnston. Archive of 350 salt prints by a Victorian female photographer.
  • <b><center>Doyle<br>The Collection of a New York Surveyor<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 3. Francis M. Maerschalk. Manuscript plan of Philip Minthorne's land in Bowery 3. $2,000-3,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 30. William Bridges. A Map of a Block of Ground situate in Water Street between Walnut and Fir Streets. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 4. Francis M. Maerschalk. M. Barrack Street/Road from Spring Garden to Fresh Water. $5,000-8,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 46. Love Lane. Map of Land and Buildings the property of Samuel I Tobias Esqr. $2,000-3,000
    <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 157. Stephen King. <i>Christine.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1983. First trade edition, inscribed by the author. $1,500-2,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 163. Charles Lindbergh. “We.” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927. First edition, Author’s Autograph Edition. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 177. A.A. Milne. <i>Winnie-the-Pooh.</i> London: Methuen, 1926. First English trade edition, first impression. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 196. William Shakespeare. <i>Othello, the Moor of Venice.</i> London: printed for W. Weak, 1681. $4,000-6,000
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 203. John Steinbeck. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York: Viking, 1939. First edition. $1,000-1,500
  • <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> The Corner-stone Document of Irish Freedom. 1916 PROCLAMATION OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC. £140,000 to £180,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Joyce's Modern Masterpiece, in its one-and-hundredth Year. Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare & Co. 1922. £15,000 to £25,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b>A Request from Mr. Joyce. Joyce (James). Autograph Letter Signed to 'Dear Mr [Thomas] Pugh,' dated 6.8.1934. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dun Emer Press: Yeats (Wm. Butler). <i>Stories of Red Hanrahan,</i> 8vo Dundrum 1904. Signed by Author. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Binding: <i>Specimens of Early English Poets,</i> 8vo Lond. (For Edwards, Pall Mall) 1790. £500 to £700.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Harry Clarke: Walter (L. D'O.) <i>The Years at the Spring,</i> An Anthology of Recent Poetry. 4to New York (Brentano's) 1920. Special signed limited edition. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kipling (Rudyard). <i>Works,</i> including Writings, Novels, Poems etc. Bombay Edition, 31 vols. roy 8vo Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1913-1938. Signed by Author. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dunraven (Edwin, Third Earl of). <i>Notes on Irish Architecture,</i> Ed. by Margaret Stokes, 2 vols. lg. folio Lond. 1875-1877. Castle Hackett copy. £1,500 to £2,400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kirby (Wm.) & Spence (Wm.) <i>An Introduction to Entomology,</i> 4 vols. 8vo Lond. 1822. With hand-coloured plates. £200 to £300.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Heaney (Seamus). <i>Death of a Naturalist,</i> 8vo Lond. (Faber & Faber) 1966 First Edition - Third Impression. Signed, & inscribed on title page 'Seamus Heaney’. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Glasgow Printing: Homer - <i>Iliad and Odyssey,</i> 4 vols. in 2, Glasgow (Robert & Andrew Foulis) 1756-1758. £1,0000 to £1,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Long ALS to Ronaldson "I consider Bonaparte as fighting our battles, and there I wish him success...” $35,000 to $45,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> G.A. Custer. PSA Mint 9 Brady CDV Signed with Rank, Best Signature/Pose We Have Ever Seen. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> B. Franklin. 1733 Signed Philadelphia Partial Land Grant Dated Less Than 6 Months After Launch of "Poor Richard's Almanack". $12,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Abraham Lincoln On Executive Mansion Stationery Replies to An Autograph Request! Fantastic Example. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> G. Washington. Free Frank to Maj. Tallmadge Re: Culper Courier. $12,000 to $14,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Albert Einstein ALS, “I am happy to see that a Jew is always 'en famille' wherever his steps lead him on this earth.” $5,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Incredible Utah 1857 Mormon War Period Ft. Bridger Ledger: Afr. American Content, Mention of Armstead, Bernard Bee, RE Lee’s Son, 120pp! $10,000 to $12,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Apollo XI. PSA Mint +9.5 Insurance Cover Signed by Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins, From Buzz Aldrin Family Space Collection. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Booker T. Washington, 17 Pages "Proud of Race...In & out of slavery...It is said that the strongest chain is no stronger than its weakest link." Handwritten Speech Notes. $8,000 to $9,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> R. Wallenberg. Signed Schutz-Pass Doc, With Rare Full Signature. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Freud & Jung Together, Most Famous Photo in Psychology History! September 1911, Weimar, Germany. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> JFK Oversized Photo with Jackie & Caroline, Signed and Inscribed, Stunning! $3,500 to $4,500.
  • <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Two first editions by Adrian Spigelius in a Sammelband: <i>De humani corporis fabrica</i> from 1627 and <i>De formato foetu</i> from 1626. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Splendid coloured copy by Frederick De Wit, <i>Atlas maior,</i> Amsterdam, 1705. €20,000 to €30,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by Marco Ricci, <i>Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris prestantissimi Experimenta,</i> Venice, Orsolini, 1723-1730. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by MicheleMarieschi, <i>Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus,</i> Venice, 1741. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Magnificent album by Louis-Leopold Boilly, Collection de dessins, calques et acquerelles, 1822. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Rare musical score by Gioachino Rossini from 1858. €6,500 to €7,500.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books<br> December 8, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Friedrich Justin Bertuch, <i>Bilderbuch für Kinder,</i> Weimar, 1792, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1822. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster, <i>Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula,</i> Basel, 1552. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster & Hans Holbein, <i>Typus Cosmographicus Universales,</i> Basel, 1532. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Franz Unger, <i>Die Urwelt in Ihren Verschiedenen Bildungsperioden,</i> 16 tinted lithographed plates, Weigel, 1858. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Charles Varle, Wiliam Warner & Andrew Hanna, <i>Plan of the City of Environs of Baltimore,</i> Baltimore, 1801. $8,000 to $12,000.

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