Whitman, Audubon and a Balzac Autograph Notebook: Auction Preview

Image: Sotheby's

Map of North America from Ortelius' Théâtre de l'Univers (1587), offered at Sotheby's this week.

The Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History sale at Sotheby's London ends on Tuesday, November 15. The 193 lots include the atlas volume of George Collot's Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale (1826, but printed 1804), which is estimated at £70,000–80,000. The lovely set of botanical mezzotints Johanna Wilhelm Weinmann's Phytanthoza Iconographia (1737–1745) in a contemporary German binding is expected to sell for £40,000–60,000. John Gould's Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or family of Toucans (1834) is estimated at £32,000–40,000, and the 1587 Plantin edition of Ortelius' atlas Théâtre de l'Univers could sell for £30,000–40,000.

Also ending on Tuesday, the Bonhams Skinner sale of Fine Books & Rare Manuscripts, in 475 lots. A very broad range of material as usual in this sale. Two George Washington signed documents are expected to lead the way: a November 10, 1776 series of orders to General Charles Lee is estimated at $50,000–75,000, and an August 1776 note of congratulation to the same recipient could sell for $30,000–50,000. This sale will also include the Charles B. Wood III collection of books on Atlantic salmon fishing, and a subscriber's copy of the first octavo edition of Audubon's Birds of America ($25,000–35,000).

On Tuesday at Freeman's, 24 lots of Books and Manuscripts: Rare Americana. This sale is certainly one to keep an eye on: it includes the September 18, 1787 letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson (then in Paris) enclosing a copy of the Constitution as proposed by the Philadelphia convention ($1,000,000–1,500,000). Also up for grabs are the September 20, 1787 issue of the Pennsylvania Herald, and General Advertiser, containing the text of the proposed Constitution ($100,000–150,000); an 1816 letter from Thomas Jefferson to Amos Jones Cook enclosing the Washington letter referenced above ($80,000–120,000); and a copy of the official report of the first United States census, signed by Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State ($60,000–90,000).

At Dominic Winter Auctioneers on Wednesday, November 16, Printed Books & Maps, the Peninsular War, Library of Architecture & Topography of William Whitfield, in 521 lots. A c.1470 manuscript book of hours, use of Tours, is estimated to lead the way at £10,000–15,000. A sammelband of eight Jacobean conduct books printed between 1615 and 1632 could sell for £3,000–5,000.

Aguttes holds Aristophil sale 55 on Wednesday: Deux Mille Ans D'Écrits, du Papyrus au Livre Imprimé. The 154 lots include the Doheny copy of the 1470 Mainz edition of St. Jerome's Epistolae, which is expected to sell for €400,000–600,000. Luxuriously illuminated and bound, this copy is also printed on vellum. A Balzac autograph notebook is expected to sell for €200,000–250,000. A c.1470 manuscript copy on paper of the Tristan and Iseult story rates an estimate of €200,000–220,000.

At Doyle on Wednesday, Selections from the Collection of Barbara and Ira Lipman, in 144 lots. A first edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass rates the top estimate at $70,000–100,000. A copy of the 1694 New York edition of George Keith's Truth Advanced, printed by William Bradford, is expected to sell for $40,000–60,000. At the same estimate range is a copy of the 1759 Nicholas Scull Map of the Improved Part of the Province of Pennsylvania.

On Thursday, November 17, Sotheby's Paris sells Précieuses Reliures du XVIe au XXe siècle de la Collection d'un Couple de Bibliophiles, in 125 lots. A c.1589 binding for Thomas Mahieu is expected to fetch €20,000–30,000.

At PBA Galleries on Thursday, 287 lots of Rare Books & Manuscripts. A first edition set of Gibbon's Decline and Fall (1776–1788) is expected to lead the way at $30,000–50,000. A complete 43-volume set of The World in Miniature, edited by Frederic Schoberl (1821) is estimated at $10,000–15,000, as is John Edwards Holbrook's North American Herpetology (1842).

Arader Galleries hold their November Auction on Saturday, November 19, in 175 lots.