Peter Harrington's newest catalogue contains "Seventy-Five Fine Books," some of which are the highest of high spots: a King James Bible (second folio edition) dating from 1611-1613 (£150,000), a Second Folio of Shakespeare (£385,000), and the editio princeps of the writings attributed to Homer (£175,000).
But my tastes are slightly less imposing. I'm fascinated by the first edition, book issue, of Street Life in London, "a work which pioneered the genre of photojournalism," published in 1877-1878 (£15,000). And, as for beauty, it would be hard to top the three-volume set of Malory's King Arthur illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley (£45,000). The binding by Cedric Chivers is stunning; says the catalogue, "The romantic, lush watercolour illustrations on the covers and the illuminated lettering pieces on the spines perfectly complement Beardsley's famous and masterly illustrations to this classic work."
Perhaps it's no surprise that, as a magazine editor, I find the 116-volume run of the Gentleman's Magazine, 1731-1814, uniformly bound in late 18th and early 19th calf with red morocco lettering pieces and marbled endpapers, awe-inspiring (£17,500). So notes the catalogue, "The periodical is inevitably rich in historical interest. Of particular note is an early printing of the American Declaration of Independence (vol. XLVI, August 1776) among much else on the American Revolution..."
All this, and many others you would expect in a catalogue of this caliber: first editions of Hardy, Stoker, Dickens, Darwin, Wilde, Woolf, Eliot, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Beatrix Potter. If you've never seen the original dust jacket for Lawrence's The Rainbow (I hadn't), here's your chance. If you want to buy it, it will set you back £42,500.
This catalogue is not only beautiful but educational for the book collector, novice or expert. Download it here.
See also our review of Peter Harrington 75 and an interview with bookseller Pom Harrington.