Galileo Document, Vesalius, Tolkien Calligraphic Manuscripts: Auction Preview

Image: Sotheby's

Dedication binding for Cardinal Carlo Borromeo on a copy of Essemplare di più sorti lettere di M. Gio. Francesco Cresci Milanese, scrittore della Libraria Apostolica (1560), offered at Sotheby's this week.

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

At Sotheby's London on Tuesday, July 9, Bibliotheca Brookeriana III: Art, Architecture and Illustrated Books, in 246 lots. Philibert de L'Orme's Le Premier tome de l'architecture (1567), a large paper copy in a fanfare binding attributed to the Atelier au Vase, shares the top estimate of £150,000–200,000 with Giovanni Francesco Cresci's Essemplare di più sorti lettere (1560). This is the dedication copy of the latter work, printed on vellum and bound for Cardinal Carlo Borromeo. A copy of the 1556 Vitruvius from the collection of diplomat Claude III de Laubespine, in another binding attributed to the Atelier au Vase is estimated at £100,000–150,000. At the same estimate range is a prepublication manuscript copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Trattato della pittura with copies of the illustrations. Much more of interest here for the collector of Vitruvius, Palladio, and emblem books.

Christie's London sells 193 lots of Valuable Books and Manuscripts on Wednesday, July 10. Expected to lead the way is a copy of the 1664 Blaeu Grooten Atlas (or Atlas Major), the Dutch edition in nine volumes (£250,000–350,000). The de Gouvetz Hours, a c.1470s illuminated manuscript on vellum with miniatures by Maître François is expected to sell for £100,000–150,000. A thirteenth-century illuminated gospel manuscript once owned by William Morris and Sir Sydney Cockerell could fetch £80,000–120,000.

At Sotheby's London Thursday, July 11, 301 lots of Books, Manuscripts and Music from Medieval to Modern, including a 1595 document signed by Galileo; only three letters or documents containing Galileo's autograph are known in private hands, so these don't come up terribly often. It is expected to sell for £500,000–700,000. A first edition of Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica (1543) could sell for £200,000–300,000, and a small group of Tolkien material including two autograph calligraphic manuscripts of two poems in Tengwar script with accompanying material and more than twenty letters from Tolkien to composer Donald Swann are expected to sell for £150,000–200,000.

PBA Galleries sells 537 lots of Fine Literature – Science Fiction, Fantasy & Mysteries – Beats & the Counterculture – Rock Posters on Thursday, including a large collection of Oyez Press material including correspondence, proofs, ephemera, &c. ($15,000–25,000); at the same range is a full set of the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, all signed by Tolkien after the consignor sent them to Oxford hoping to obtain the author's signature.