News | January 26, 2023

Rare Chaucer, Shakespeare Folio, and Asssociated Copies at Potter & Potter

Potter & Potter

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Imprinted, is estimated at $100,000-125,000

Potter & Potter Auctions' February 2023 Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana Sale is the company's first book sale of 2023 and follows on the heels of the company's October, 2022 sale which realized $1.1 million. This 531 lot sale will be held on February 16th starting at 10am CST live at Potter & Potter's gallery, located at 5001 W. Belmont Avenue in Chicago, as well as live streamed at

Museum quality antiquarian books take several of the top lot slots at this can't miss event.

* Lot #328, an astonishingly rare copy of Geoffrey Chaucer's (c. 1340s–1500) The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Imprinted, is estimated at $100,000-125,000. This limited edition from 1896 was published by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press in 1896. It is one of 425 copies of a total edition of 438, is printed in black and red, and includes its custom folding box. It is illustrated with borders and initials by C.E. Keates, W.H. Hooper, and W. Spielmeyer after William Morris, and 87 woodcut illustrations by W.H. Hooper after Edward Burne–Jones. According to industry reference Artist & The Book, The Kelmscott Chaucer “is the most important… [and] perhaps the most famous book of the modern private press movement, and the culmination of William Morris’ endeavor."   

* Lot #411, William Shakespeare's (1564–1616) The Third Part Of Henry The Sixt, With The Death Of The Duke Of Yorke, is estimated at $5,000-7,000. It was published in London by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount in 1623. The folio consists of 26 pages on 13 leaves and is page numbered 147 through 172.  It features a woodcut head and tail piece. This piece of history is extracted from the first folio printing of the complete third part of this play set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England.  
This auction also includes remarkable inscribed books with breathtaking provenance.

* Lot #201, a first edition, presentation copy of W.W. Jacobs' (British, 1863-1943) Salthaven inscribed to Samuel L. Clemens ("Mark Twain", 1835–1910), is estimated at $25,000-35,000. It was published by Methuen & Co. in London in 1908. Twain additionally inscribed on the half title “It’s a delightful book. Mark." Below, Twain further reaffirms this statement, apparently in passing the book to someone else: “Bog House, Bermuda, March/10. I have read it about 5 times. The above verdict stands." In Mark Twain’s Letters, Vol. VI, Albert Bigelow Paine comments that “Clemens was a great admirer of the sea stories of W.W. Jacobs and generally kept one or more of this author’s volumes in reach of his bed, where most of his reading was done.”

* Lot #232, a first edition of Ward Greene's (1892–1956) Lady And The Tramp, is estimated at $5,000-8,000. It was published in New York by Simon and Schuster in 1953 and is the basis of the 1955 classic film of the same title. This exceptional association copy has its rare jacket and is signed by Walt Disney (1901–1966), animator Bill Justice (1914–2001), and four of Disney’s “Nine Old Men” including Frank Thomas (1912–2004), Ollie Johnston (1912–2008), Eric Larson (1905–1988), and Woolie Reitherman (1905–1985).  

* Lot #437, Walt Whitman's (1819–1892) Leaves Of Grass, is estimated at $5,000-7,000. This signed, "Author's Edition" was published in Camden, NJ in 1882. According to Wells and Goldsmith's Bibliography of Walt Whitman from 1968, “This is the scarce and almost unknown issue; it is doubtful if more than one hundred copies were printed. It appeared after the suppression of the Boston edition and before the first Philadelphia edition…The text and type is the same as that used in the Boston edition, the title–page only being different. All copies were autographed, and it is probable that Whitman had these made for a few friends while waiting for the first Philadelphia edition.”  

Also on offer are fine, first edition selections of some of the most famous, beloved, or important books of the past two centuries.

* Lot #17, Howard Phillips Lovecraft's (1890–1937) The Shunned House with a preface by Frank Belknap Long Jr., is estimated at $5,000-7,000. It was printed in Athol, MA by The Recluse Press for W. Paul Cook in 1928. This example is one of only 300 copies, of which an approximately 100 sets of sheets were bound and distributed by Arkham House in 1961. This work has a complicated and disputed publishing history, with editions printed in 1928 having great interest among bibliophiles. This copy has provenance to Richard Manne, one of the most famous book collectors of the 20th century, who was known for the best examples on the market.  

* Lot #50, Edgar Rice Burroughs' (1875–1950) A Princess Of Mars, is estimated at $6,000-8,000. It was published in Chicago by A. C. McClurg in 1917. This landmark, influential sci-fi novel was based on the scientific writings of the time, especially those of Percival Lowell. The book inspired many writers and artists, including Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, James Cameron and George Lucas, and virtually singlehandedly created and then explored a new genre of adventure fiction - the interplanetary romance. It retains its rare, original dust jacket.

* Lot #110, J.R.R. Tolkien's (1892–1973) The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, is estimated at $10,000-15,000. This threesome include The Fellowship Of The Ring from 1954, The Two Towers from 1954, and The Return Of The King from 1955. All were published in London by Allen & Unwin Ltd. and have provenance to the bookseller, R.S. Heath Ltd. The Fellowship of the Rings is a second impression; The Two Towers is a first impression in a first state dust jacket without reviews on its rear flap; and The Return of the King is a first impression, third state, in a second state dust jacket with reviews on its rear flap. According to Potter's experts, this is "A lovely set of one of the best–selling book series of all time in attractive dust jackets."

* Lot #444, a first edition, limited issue of Oscar Wilde's (1854–1900) The Importance Of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy For Serious People, is estimated at $6,000-8,000. It was published in London by Leonard Smithers and Co. in 1899 and is number 34 of 1,000 copies. Smithers published this work four years after the original production with some changes that Wilde had made in the preceding months. The book comes with a breathtakingly rare, original albumen photo of Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas (1870-1945), Wilde's partner. This iconic image depicts Douglas sitting on a bench wearing a straw hat with Wilde leaning with his left foot on the bench. It was taken in Oxford in the summer of 1893.

This sale comes full circle with maps, drawings, illustrations, and other important ephemera.

* Lot #402, a full length, lithographic portrait of Albert Einstein (1879–1955) playing the violin by Emil Orlik (1870–1932), is estimated at $10,000-15,000. It was made in 1928 and measures 279 x 202 mm. It is signed and dated on its lower left by Einstein and signed and marked as a proof by the artist. Einstein loved playing the violin, and once said that he would probably have become a musician if he had not become a physicist. Potter's experts could only locate only one other signed proof of this image, which is housed at the American Institute of Physics.  

* Lot #495, a first edition map of the Upper Mississippi, the Plains, and Rocky Mountain regions by Louis Armand, Baron de Lahontan (French, c.1666-1716), is estimated at $10,000-15,000. This engraved map printed on two sheets and conjoined as issued was published in Paris in 1703 and is considered the most influential of all mythical cartographic works, effecting the cartographic landscape of the areas depicted for nearly 50 years. The origin of this map, as well as most of its contents, appear to lie in the imagination of the map maker since the Indian tribes and other geographic landmarks and features he showed on the map were later proved fictitious.

According to Christopher Brink, Potter & Potter Auctions' Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts, "We are pleased to announce our first of many book sales this year that features several important high spots including the Kelmscott Press Chaucer and a near complete catalogue of Arkham House titles. This auction will delight a wide range of collectors, including Edward Gorey fans as they thumb through nearly 40 lots of his signed works, postcards, and ephemera.”