Beatrix Potter Watercolors, WWI Poets, Treaty of Paris documents: Auction Preview

Image: Sotheby's

One of a set of twelve watercolor and ink drawings on silk by Beatrix Potter, offered at Sotheby's this week.

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

Ending on Tuesday, July 18, 404 lots of Books, Manuscripts and Music from Medieval to Modern at Sotheby's London. Expected to lead the way is the working manuscript of Richard Wagner's essay Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde, which is markedly different from the printed version and is expected to sell for £150,000–200,000. A first edition of Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler (1653) is estimated at £60,000–80,000, and a remarkable pair of WWI poetry association copies could sell for £50,000–70,000. These are first editions of Robert Graves' Over the Brazier inscribed to Siegfried Sassoon, and Sasson's The Old Huntsman inscribed to Graves. At the same estimate is a volume of fair copies of 52 John Wesley's letters, mostly unpublished.

Some printed material is expected to be among the top lots in the Tuesday Space History sale at Bonhams Los Angeles, including a sheet from the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Guidance & Navigation Dictionary, with a letter signed by Buzz Aldrin. This is estimated at $50,000–70,000. A star chart used to help navigate Apollo 11 back to Earth, inscribed by Buzz Aldrin, is expected to sell for $30,000–50,000.

On Wednesday, July 19, Dominic Winter Auctioneers sells 560 lots of Printed Books, Maps & Documents, with Caricatures of James Gillray. A 1593 Cornelis De Jode map of China rates the top estimate of £7,000–10,000.

At Aguttes on Thursday, July 20, Lettres & Manuscrits, Oeuvres sur Papier, in 208 lots.

Sotheby's New York holds a live sale of 23 lots of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana on Thursday. Expected to sell for $2–4 million is a trio of documents including the Continental Congress' instructions to the commissioners charged with negotiating the Treaty of Paris; a copy of the deciphered instructions by William Temple Franklin, signed by both Benjamin Franklin and John Adams; and John Jay's working decipher of the instructions. The 1582 Articles of Agreement assigning 1.5 million acres of North American land to Sir Humphrey Gilbert is estimated at $700,000–1,000,000. An uncut copy of the first book edition of The Federalist could sell for $300,000–400,000, and the same estimate range has been assigned to a group of twelve Beatrix Potter watercolor and ink drawings on silk, illustrating scenes from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.

The second part of the Sotheby's sale, held online, also ends on Thursday. The 211 lots include four lots all sharing the top estimate of $40,000–60,000: a first American edition of Moby-Dick; a grumpy May 24, 1786 John Adams letter to Elbridge Gerry from London; more than 40 letters and postcards from Ludwig Bemelmans to Elizabeth and Theodore Weicker; and a first edition of Galileo's Dialogo (1632).