Auctions | July 2020 | Jeremy Dibbell

Rare Books &c. at Auction This Week

Image: Swann Galleries

N.C. Wyeth's original title page illustration for Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow, offered at Swann this week.

Another busy week coming up in the auction rooms:

Sotheby's sale of Music, Continental Books and Medieval Manuscripts ends on Tuesday, July 14. The 165 lots include a second issue copy of Newton's Principia (1687), which made its way to Italy shortly after publication and is estimated at £280,000–350,000. A copy of Wynken de Worde's second edition of the "Saint Albans" version of Caxton's Chronicles of England, with Higden's Description of England (1497–98), from the library at Spetchley Park, Worcestershire, is estimated at £30,000–50,000. An autograph prose draft of Richard Wagner's opera "Wieland der Schmied" could sell for £30,000–40,000. A 1579 signed Wittenberg binding with painted stamped portraits of Luther and Melanchthon is estimated at just £200–300.

Another Sotheby's sale ends on Wednesday, July 15: The Collection of a Connoisseur: History in Manuscripts, in 136 lots. Two lots share the top estimate in this one at £40,000–60,000: a 1501 scribal document signed by both Ferdinand and Isabella ordering the expulsion of Muslims from Granada, and the original 1799 royal patent by King Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies creating Lord Nelson the Duke of Bronte. An autograph album created by collector E. Lonsdale Deighton to raise money for ex-service members following WWI is estimated at £30,000–50,000: the album contains more than 520 autographs, drawings, quotations, &c. by leading figures of the early 1920s. Among several lots of Queen Victoria material is one set of fifteen letters to her friend Lily Wellesley, the wife of Victoria's chaplain.

And on Thursday, July 16, three sales to keep an eye on, including the Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper auction at Forum Auctions. The 236 lots include a copy of the 1475 Latin Cosmographia, printed by Hermann Liechtenstein at Vicenza, in a nice contemporary binding (£150,000–200,000). Also to be had are the Honeyman copy of Johann Schoener's Opera mathematica, printed at Nuremberg in 1551 (£30,000–40,000); the editio princeps of Lucian of Samosata's Dialogoi (Florence, 1496, estimated at £20,000–30,000); and a copy of Bruce Rogers' 1935 Oxford Lectern Bible (£10,000–15,000). Several lots (129–145) will be of interest to students of nineteenth-century publishing history, and there is an annotated copy of the 1680 Compleat Catalogue of all the Stitch'd Books and Single Sheets Printed since the First Discovery of the Popish Plot (Sept. 1678) to January 1679/80 (estimated at £500–700).

Ending at Christie's on Thursday is their Eureka! Scientific Breakthroughs of the 20th Century sale, in 58 lots. These include a rare M4 four-rotor Enigma Machine (£200,000–300,000); a collection of fifty original Nikola Tesla patents (£120,000–160,000); and a whole bunch of Einstein material.

Swann Galleries' Illustration Art sale rounds out Thursday's auctions. The 250 lots include N.C. Wyeth's original title page illustration for Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow ($150,000–200,000); a 2014 color drawing of Eloise with a valentine by Hilary Knight ($25,000–35,000); and a group of six pencil studies of Max and the monsters from Where the Wild Things Are done by Sendak in 1982 to be used for bean bag doll patterns ($20,000–30,000).