February 2018 | Jeremy Dibbell

Rare Books at Auction this Week

On Wednesday, February 7, Bonhams London hosts a Travel & Exploration sale, in 149 lots. A painting (one of many in this sale) rates the top estimate: Daniel Thomas Egerton's "Vera Cruz, and the Castle of San Juan D'Ulloa" at £200,000-300,000. An album of 108 photographs collected by Arthur Frederick Pope during an 1866-70 world tour is estimated at £20,000-30,000. A domino set reputed to have gone to the Antarctic with Shackleton could fetch £600-800. Lots 137-143 include several of Herbert George Ponting's photographs from the 1910-11 British Antarctic Expedition (Lot 140 pictured).



                                                                                                                                                           In Boston on Friday, February 9, Skinner, Inc. sells the Collection of Avis & Eugene Robinson, 300 lots of Africana and African-Americana. In an introduction to the sale catalog, Eugene Robinson, the longtime Washington Post reporter, notes that this collection developed over time, "as a weekend pastime became a mission to collect and preserve this overlooked history." Among the printed and manuscript materials are a framed issue of The North Star for April 28, 1848 ($8,000-12,000), a manuscript map on goatskin of Tionesta Township, PA ($4,000-6,000), an 1801 New York bill of lading for a slave ship ($700-900), and an archive of manuscripts and photographs related to Rhode Island's DeWolf family ($500-700). Many photographs and realia will also be offered.

                                                                                                                                               Two sales will be held in Pasadena to coincide with this weekend's California International Antiquarian Book Fair, both on Sunday, February 11:

PBA Galleries sells Rare Books & Manuscripts in 222 lots beginning at 8 a.m. PST, with lots 114-222 being sold to benefit the Antiquarian Booksellers' Benevolent Fund. The top lot in this sale is expected to be an early- to mid-17th-century alchemical illustrated manuscript, Coronatio Naturae ("The Crowning of Nature"), with 67 illustrations and a later partial English translation. The only copy in private hands, it is estimated at $100,000-150,000. A first edition of Gulliver's Travels in a Riviere & Son binding could fetch $30,000-50,000, the same estimate given to a 17th-century manuscript book of horoscopes. A large archive from the family of President John Tyler could sell for $20,000-30,000. Other items of note include a copy of Barack Obama's fifth-grade yearbook, inscribed by him to a friend ($8,000-12,000), and some 350 sheets of gold leaf from the Roycroft Bindery ($4,000-6,000).

                                                                                                                                                              Following the PBA sale on Sunday, Bonhams sells Fine Books and Manuscripts in 272 lots, beginning at 10:30 a.m. PST. Again it's not a book which rates the top estimate: a rare three-rotor Enigma Machine takes that honor, at $70,000-90,000. A short Walt Whitman manuscript containig the poet's thoughts on death could sell for $20,000-30,000. A collection of Ray Bradbury works, most inscribed first editions, is estimated at $15,000-20,000 (there are a number of other Bradbury lots on offer), while a first edition of David Roberts's The Holy Land could fetch $15,000-25,000. An Isaac Newton autograph manuscript containing quotes from Eunapius and Procopius, used by Newton in his works on prophecy, is estimated at $12,000-18,000. A manuscript leaf from an early draft of Thoreau's A Week Along the Concord and Merrimack Rivers receives the same estimate. Perhaps of interest to readers of this blog are several of Dard Hunter's works on papermaking (lots 231-234).

                                                                                                                                                           Image credit: Bonhams