June 2020 | Jeremy Dibbell

Rare Books &c. at Auction This Week

Courtesy of Lyon & Turnbull

A Thomas Cromwell letter about the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves. Estimate: £3,500–4,500.

Another very busy week coming up in the auction world! Here are some of the things I'll be watching:

At Druout on Tuesday, June 16, Aristophil sale 29, Beaux-Arts, in 159 lots. A November 1888 Van Gogh letter to artist Émile Bernard, with an additional note from Gauguin, rates the top estimate, at €180,000–250,000. A Gauguin letter from around 1896 to the "unknown amateur," with a drawing by the artist at the top of the page, could sell for €180,000–200,000. A Bella Chagall notebook of translated poetry which Marc Chagall kept for decades after her death, adding drawings and paintings, is estimated at €80,000–120,000.

Aristophil sale 30 will be held at Artcurial on Wednesday, June 17, comprising 126 lots of Littérature Française du XXe Siècle. A complete autograph version of Céline's Nord, in four volumes, is expected to lead the sale at €300,000–500,000. One of just 25 copies of the original edition of Apollinaire's Case d'Armons (1915) is estimated at €80,000–100,000.

Lyon & Turnbull hold a 392-lot sale of Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs on Wednesday, with an inscribed copy of the first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone rating the top estimate at £80,000–120,000. Also on offer in Edinburgh are a first edition copy of Fleming's Casino Royale (£20,000–30,000); several Robert Burns letters; and a Thomas Cromwell letter about the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves (£3,500–4,500).

Also on Wednesday, Travel, Natural History, Americana & Sporting Books at Doyle (soft close will begin at 10 a.m. EDT). Among the interesting lots is a poster for the Titanic ($1,000–1,500).

Rounding out Wednesday's sales, Bibliothèque R. & B. L.: une décennie de ventes at Sotheby's, in 274 lots. Sharing the top estimate at €30,000–40,000 are a set of the Marquis de Sade's La Nouvelle Justine and L’Histoire de Juliette and a first edition of Céline's Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932). Even more French literature to choose from in this one!

Ader will host Aristophil sale 31 on Thursday, June 18: Sciences: Archéologie, Savants et Philosophies. The 161 lots include a piece of the Fukang meteorite (€75,000–85,000); a 1929 Einstein manuscript (€70,000–80,000); and a 1610 Johannes Kepler letter to Christian II, Elector of Saxony (€40,000–50,000).

At Forum Auctions on Thursday, Books and Works on Paper, in 245 lots.

Two Christie's sales end on Thursday. The first, Selections from the Library of Lorenzo H. Zambrano: Latin Americana, Science, and Literature, includes 51 lots, among them a very nice first edition of Darwin's Origin ($100,000–150,000) and a copy of the colored issue of Viscount Kingsborough's Antiquities of Mexico ($80,000–120,000).

The second Christie's sale ending on Thursday is The Open Book: Fine Travel, Americana, Literature and History in Print and Manuscript, in 112 lots. Expected the lead the way here with an estimate of $300,000–500,000 is the September 20, 1814 issue of the Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser, containing the first dated printing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (being deaccessioned as a duplicate by the American Antiquarian Society). Estimated at $180,000–250,000 are a rare copy of Martín Fernández de Enciso's 1519 account of the Spanish explorations in the Americas and an early French compilation of "New World" travel accounts, which appears to be unrecorded in auction records. A copy of Audubon's Quadrupeds is also on the block, estimated at $120,000–180,000.

Also ending on Thursday is the 412-lot PBA Galleries timed-lot sale of Publications of the Arthur H. Clark Company.

Finally, on Friday June 19, Aristophile sale 32 at Aguttes, Littérature Les Années 1920–1930, in 192 lots. An impressive collection of Proust letters, manuscripts, drawings, &c. rates the top estimate, at €120,000–150,000, while a set of 38 Franz Kafka letters to Robert Klopstock could sell for €100,000–150,000. There will be much of interest here to the André Breton fans, as well.