Rare Books at Auction This Week

Five auctions to watch this week, leading off with a Wednesday, March 21 sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams London. The 408 lots include items from the collections of Charles Benson, Esq. (lots 45-65), Capt. J.D.G. Fortescue (lots 110-154), art dealer Kenneth John Hewett (lots 155-202), and Frieda Hughes (lots 301-408), as well as a private collection of ferns, seaweeds, and mosses (lots 218-249). Sylvia Plath's own copy of The Bell Jar is estimated at £60,000-80,000, and her Hermes 3000 typewriter could sell for £40,000-60,000. An 1871 Charles Darwin letter to his son George is estimated at £30,000-40,000.


On Thursday, March 22, Swann Galleries sells Autographs, in 260 lots. Leading the way are a 1778 George Washington letter to Gen. James Clinton (estimated at $25,000-35,000), a secretarial manuscript of Walt Whitman's last poem with the poet's corrections and signature ($20,000-30,000), and a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Gen. Nathanael Greene written in February 1781 ($15,000-25,000).


Quite a mix at PBA Galleries on March 22, with a sale of Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography, in 435 lots. A rare Mormon pamphlet, The Voice of Truth (1844), containing the last sermon delivered by Joseph Smith, is estimated at $30,000-50,000, while two early letters by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could fetch $20,000-30,000. Lots 377-435 are being sold without reserve, so bargains may well be a possibility.




Also on Thursday, Forum Auctions sells Fine Books and Works on Paper, in 601 lots. Among the projected top sellers are some 125 drawings of Irish lighthouses and islands by lighthouse commissioner Robert Callwell (£6,000-8,000), a collection of the works of Col. Henry Hope Crealock (£5,000-8,000) and a rather worn copy of the first edition, first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (£6,000-8,000).


Finally, on Saturday, March 24, Addison & Sarova sells Rare Books & Paper, in 186 lots. Items to watch include a 1578 Gerard de Jode world map ($10,000-15,000) and a 1502 Milan edition of John Mandeville's travels ($30,000-40,000). 


Image credit: Forum Auctions