Auctions | May 24, 2019

Science Stands Out at Skinner’s Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction

Courtesy of Skinner Inc.

Newton, Sir Isaac (1643-1727) Opticks: or a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Sold for: $43,050.

Marlborough, MA — Skinner’s Fine Books & Manuscripts online auction featured great returns for material related to the sciences. Important landmarks in the history of science have performed well consistently for decades.

A collection carefully culled from the inventory of Dr. Adrian Pollock, a prominent London bookseller in the 1970s, is especially appealing now. Dr. Pollock kept all of his correspondence regarding his book purchases, and several letters regarding Newton’s Opticks are especially interesting. Dawson had a different copy of the same edition of the book in lesser condition (later binding, trimmed down, etc.) that was priced considerably less; by more than $1,000, but Dr. Pollock chose to buy the better and more expensive copy. His choice was vindicated by the auction result: His first edition Newton’s Opticks from 1703 sold for $43,050.

Dr. Pollock’s rare book collection also featured an author’s presentation copy of Voltaire’s Elemens de la Philosophie de Neuton given by Voltaire to Newton’s personal physician, William Cheselden went for $27,060; a 1613 edition of Galileo’s work on sunspots, Istoria e Dimostrazione sold for $24,600; Newton’s work on The Method of Fluxions from 1736 garnered a bid of $13,530; and a second edition of his Principia sold for $12,300.

Not to be outdone, a large signed portrait photograph of Marie Curie, a prized piece which rarely appears on the market, earned a winning bid of $28,290.

Informed collectors who understand the value of condition and are willing to pay more for a better copy are rewarded with a book that will build in its desirability as time goes on.

Overall, for both bidders and consignors, the auction was a success. Skinner is currently accepting consignments of good books in great condition. Please contact department specialist, Devon Eastland at or phone 508-970-3293 to discuss important books or collections.