Audubon's Quadrupeds, Scott Farewell Letter, and Maria Sibylla Merian: Auction Preview

Image: Sotheby's

Audubon's polar bear, from his Quadrupeds offered at Sotheby's this week.

Here are the auctions I'll be watching this week:

Ending on Monday, November 21, the Christie's Paris sale of Livres Rares et Manuscrits. The 267 lots include a first edition of René Descartes Discours de le méthode (1637) in a contemporary binding with the arms of bibliophile Louis Hesselin and Jean-Baptiste Colbert's copy of Blaise Pascal's Lettres a A. Dettonville (1659). Both are estimated at €100,000–150,000. Picasso and Reverdy's Sable Mouvant (1966), inscribed by Picasso to his doctor and with an original drawing by the artist could sell for €70,000–100,000. A working copy of the storyboard for Frank Herbert's Dune (1975) is estimated at €70,000–90,000.

Also ending on Monday, Leslie Hindman's sale of American Historical Ephemera & Photography, in 373 lots.

At Forum Auctions on Tuesday, November 22, Books and Works on Paper, in 261 lots. Expected to lead the way is a copy of Chapman's Homer, this copy imperfect and estimated at £1,000–1,500. John Tallis's 1851 Illustrated Plan of London could sell for £800–1,200.

Bonhams London holds a single-lot sale on Tuesday titled Scott of the Antarctic: An Heroic Farewell. Offered is the March 16, 1912 letter written by Scott to Sir Edgar Speyer, the first of Scott's farewell letters and the last remaining in private hands. It is expected to sell for £400,000–600,000. Written in and then torn from Scott's diary, this letter to his friend, the treasurer of his expedition, urges Speyer to ensure that the widows and children of the expedition's members be provided for.

On Tuesday at Sotheby's New York, The John Golden Library: Book Illustration in the Age of Scientific Discovery, in 50 lots. Audubon's Quadrupeds (1845–1851) rates the top estimate at $250,000–350,000. A copy of the 1754 second edition of Mark Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands is expected to sell for $180,000–250,000. The Doheny copy of Robert John Thornton's Temple of Flora could fetch $150,000–200,000. A copy of the deluxe issue of Maria Sibylla Merian's Der Rupsen Begin (1713–1717) rates the same estimate. Merian's Dissertatio de Generatione et Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium (1726) is also included, with an estimate of $100,000–150,000.