Auctions | December 3, 2013

First Example of a Multimedia Publication Sells for £21,080 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

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A book that could be the first example of a publication containing images, words, and music sold for £21,080 on Thursday 28th November, at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions sale of Important Books and Manuscripts.

German physician, alchemist and amateur composer Michael Maier published work Atalanta Fugiens, in 1617. Between 1587 and 1596 Maier studied both philosophy and medicine and was famously physician and imperial counsellor to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, member of the House of Hapsburg, who shared Maier’s interest in the occult. Maier died at the age of 54 with a substantial amount of unpublished work remaining.

Alongside images, poems, and discussion the book contains music in the form of 50 fugues, a compositional technique in which a theme or themes are stated in two or more voices and repeated frequently at different pitches. They are accompanied by emblematic illustrations by Maier's contemporary Matthias Marian, all with contemporary hand-colouring, a Latin motto and an epigram of discourse. [Lot 26]

Dating from 1970 a previously unpublished self-portrait by John Lennon, one of two sketched for the book Grapefruit, written by Yoko Ono, was sold together with a portrait of Yoko and the famous manuscript text that was used as the introduction for the book. It realised £19,220.

The ink on paper drawings and the text which reads: ‘Hi my name is John Lennon/ I'd like you to meet Yoko Ono,' achieved a great deal of pre-sale interest from Beatles memorabilia aficionados and was bought by a UK private collector. [Lot 140]
A pristine set of all seven Harry Potter novels all signed by the author, and probably the finest to offered at auction, and signed by the author sold for an exceptional £43,400.  The set was accompanied by seven pieces of original artwork by artists Thomas Taylor, Cliff Wright and Giles Greenfield.  [Lot 149]

Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions next sale of Antiquarian Books will be held on 18th December in their London Maddox Street saleroom. The catalogue for this sale can be viewed online at

Image: Michael Maier, Atalanta Fugiens, 1617. Courtesy of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions.