Gutenberg Bible Leaf, Turing Material, Chatterton Letters: Auction Preview

Image: Bonhams

Laboratory notebook in Alan Turing's hand, from a collection of material relating to his and Donald Bayley's work on the Delilah voice-encryption project, offered at Bonhams this week.

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

At Bonhams London on Tuesday, November 14, 118 lots of Fine Books and Manuscripts, including a collection of material related to Alan Turing and Donald Bayley's work on the Delilah speech encryption system, which is estimated at £300,000–500,000. There is an extensive and really interesting essay about the background and importance of this material which I recommend highly. Also in the sale are ten books on mathematics and computing from Turing's library (£80,000–120,000). 

Two key lots came from the collection of Horace Walpole letters kept by the writer Mary Berry and bequeathed by her to Lady Maria Theresa Lewis in 1852: four letters from David Hume to Walpole about Hume's argument with Rousseau, and two letters from Thomas Chatterton to Walpole along with Walpole's unsent reply; both lots are estimated at £100,000–150,000. These letters are believed to be the last from the correspondence in private hands. 

The sale includes additional lots from the Berry/Lewis collections, as well as two volumes of visitors' books used by the future and former Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson from 1935 to 1970 (£20,000–30,000). Also on the block will be a number of lots from the collection of Frieda Hughes, the daughter of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

Dominic Winter Auctioneers sells 428 lots of Books, Maps & Prints on Wednesday, November 15. Pietro Carrera's 1617 Italian chess manual rates the top estimate at £5,000–8,000.

At ALDE on Wednesday, 140 lots of Beaux Livres Anciens, including a c.1518 Hardouyn printed book of hours (€10,000–12,000).

Ader sells 282 lots of Enluminures, Livres Anciens et Modernes on Thursday, November 16, including a late fifteenth-century French manuscript book of hours (€80,000–100,000).

At Freeman's on Thursday, 170 lots of Books and Manuscripts. Expected to lead the sale is a copy of Gabriel Wells' A Noble Fragment (1921), including a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible ($50,000–80,000); a first edition of Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad (1880) from Twain's library and later in the Doheny collection ($15,000–25,000); and a first edition of John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding ($15,000–25,000).

PBA Galleries sells the Shawn Donnille Collection of Natural History – Rare Books & Manuscripts – Fine Press & Bohemian Club in 349 lots on Thursday. Two large lots of Bohemian Club material share the top estimate of $10,000–15,000: one lot comprises thirty-three file boxes of ephemera, and the other includes 102 file boxes of mailings for Bohemian Club events. At the same estimate range is a copy of George Edwards' Natural History of Birds and Gleanings of Natural History, complete in seven volumes. First editions of Thoreau's Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers are each estimated at $6,000–9,000.