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After a fairly quiet week, we’re very much back to business on the auction front. Here are a few things I’ll be watching this week:


Alexander Historical Auctions holds its Winter Auction on Monday, February 18, in a whopping 1,120 lots. Among the manuscripts expected to sell well are a June 29, 1861 letter from Stonewall Jackson ($15,000-25,000); the signature of Declaration of Independence Signer Thomas Lynch, Jr., clipped from a volume of Swift ($10,000-15,000); and an Ernest Hemingway letter to an aspiring writer ($8,000-10,000).


At Toovey’s on Tuesday, February 19, Antiquarian and Collectors’ Books, in 212 lots. Toovey’s sells Maps and Prints on Wednesday, too, in a 165-lot sale.


berge.pngPierre Bergé & Associés sells the Bibliothèque d’un Amateur on Tuesday, in 129 lots. A 1523 Ovid in French (Paris: Philippe le Noir) with more than thirty woodcut illustrations rates the top estimate, at €35,000-45,000. A seventeenth-century manuscript prayer book made for Andrée de Vivonne, Duchesse de La Rochefoucauld could sell for €30,000-40,000 (pictured).


On Wednesday, Bibliothèque Marc Litzler at Christie’s Paris. The 248 lots include Matisse’s Jazz (Paris, 1947), estimated at €200,000-300,000; illustrations from the 1498 Nuremberg edition of Dürer’s Apocalypsis (€150,000-200,000); a manuscript book of hours from around 1480 (€60,000-80,000); and a second edition Vesalius (€50,000-70,000).


PBA Galleries holds a 431-lot sale of Rare Americana, Travel & Exploration, Hawaii, World History, and Cartography on Thursday, February 21. Rating the top estimate is a full set of the first two volumes of Alexander Campbell’s Millennial Harbinger (1830-1831), at $10,000-15,000. The third issue of William Stith’s history of Virginia (Williamsburg, [1753]), with the bookplate of British politician George Grenville, could fetch $6,000-9,000. A massive 1761 map of Europe with vignettes is estimated at $5,000-8,000. Finally, two Mexican Inquisitorial broadsides about forbidden books, one from 1781 and another from 1803, each are estimated at $3,000-5,000.


Last but not least, Aguttes in Paris sells Livres Anciens & Modernes, Manuscrits & Autographes on Friday, February 22, in 314 lots. A collection of forty-eight letters from artist Francis Picabia to Suzanne Roman is expected to sell for €30,000-40,000, while a bifolium from a seventeenth-century Italian manuscript maritime atlas of the Mediterranean could fetch €20,000-25,000. A Debussy music manuscript rates the same estimate.


Image credit: Pierre Bergé & Associés

Chances are you’ve heard the name Ansel Adams. What about Mary Austin? An upcoming auction lot reminded me that Adams’ first book of photography, titled Taos Pueblo, was published in a limited, Grabhorn Press edition in 1930. Adams supplied twelve photos, while Austin wrote the text. The copy for sale at Swann Auction Galleries next week, signed by both the author and the artist, is estimated to reach $30,000-45,000.

Austin Adams.jpgBut who was Austin? Swann describes her “a popular nature writer,” which is true, if understated. Mary Hunter Austin (1868-1934) traveled extensively in the Southwest and wrote about what she saw and experienced there. Her first book, published in 1903, was The Land of Little Rain, a nature classic in the same league as Thoreau’s Walden or Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra. Austin’s evocative sketches of life in Death Valley and the Mojave Desert are mystical and life-affirming. Incredibly for the time, Austin often traveled alone through hostile environments to collect her stories, prompting Outside magazine to feature her recently in “Badass Women Chronicles.”  

Austin went on to write more than thirty books and hundreds of articles. As Adams wrote of her, “Seldom have I met and known anyone of such intellectual and spiritual power and discipline.” Still, she never quite cracked into the literary canon. The Land of Little Rain was reissued in 1920 and was notably included in the “Zamorano 80” list of distinguished California books in 1945. Five years after that, Ansel Adams published a photo-illustrated edition of Land, perhaps an homage to their first collaboration. Then Austin seems to drop off the radar for several decades.

51950.jpgA quick peruse of booksellers’ offerings online show copies of the collector-worthy first edition, bound in decorative gilt cloth (pictured above, courtesy of Ken Sanders Rare Books), in the $150-500 range, as well as the 1920 second edition in dust jacket for $175. Arader Galleries has a stunning extra-illustrated first edition for $35,000.

LandOfLittleRain copy.jpgCoincidentally, an audiobook of The Land of Little Rain was released earlier this month, read by Emmy Award winner Ellen Parker. (Full disclosure: it was produced by my husband, Brett Barry.) It is the first commercially available audio edition of Austin’s most famous work. There are also paperback editions now available from Modern Library, Penguin, and Dover, plus a 2014 coffee table edition with photos by Walter Feller.

It seems we -- readers, collectors, publishers -- are finally making shelf space for Mary Austin.

Images (Top) Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries; (Middle) Courtesy of Ken Sanders Rare Books; (Bottom) Courtesy of Silver Hollow Audio.

Last week, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore put on display a little-known but extraordinary nineteenth-century prayer book woven entirely from silk on a Jacquard loom. In Woven Words: Decoding the Silk Book, visitors can get a close look at this unique objet d’art.

RS399725_PS1_92.123.26v-27r_Op_DD_AST-014777-ppt.jpg“It survives today as the only successful example of an entirely woven book, every line of text and saintly figure intricately created out of silk,” said Lynley Anne Herbert, Robert and Nancy Hall Associate Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.

RS399694_PS1_83.736_Back_DD_AST-014779-ppt.jpgIt was Joseph Marie Jacquard of Lyon, France, who patented a weaving technique that revolutionized the textile industry with his mechanized loom. Jacquard’s innovation presaged the modern computer in its use of paper punch cards that could be programmed to allow complex patterns, like those seen in the Silk Book.

“What’s remarkable about the Silk Book is that, though it’s an object that is more than a century old, it has real connections to our modern-day life,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director. “We hope that it will continue to inspire our visitors to think about other ways in which art and science converge in their lives.”

The Silk Book in on view through April 28.

Images courtesy of the Walters Art Museum

Bronte Parsonage (with Charlotte's Pine and Emily's Path to the Moors)_2017 copy.jpgAlthough the Rare Book Week West crowds have shifted north by now, opening this weekend at the Huntington Library in San Marino is an exhibition of seven recent paintings by contemporary British artist Celia Paul, one of which is bound to captivate the Brontëans among us. The Brontë Parsonage (with Charlotte’s Pine and Emily’s Path to the Moors) has its roots in Paul’s recollection of her childhood home near Brontë’s Parsonage. Hilton Als, prize-winning art critic and curator of this exhibition, speculates “that Paul might have seen parallels between the Brontë family and her own, many members of whom have been involved in the Church of England,” according to a statement released by the Huntington.

The exhibition, which remains on view through July 8, also showcases Paul’s light-filled seascapes and contemplative portraits of family members. Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at the Huntington, said, “With Turner’s masterful brushwork and Constable’s sensitive treatment of light and climate as a backdrop here, our visitors can assess Celia Paul’s work within the context of British painting, while also appreciating the innovations and sensitive introspection of this 21st-century female painter.”

If you happen to be the Bay Area this weekend instead, check out our guide to exhibitions & events happening now through Monday.

Image: Celia Paul, The Brontë Parsonage (with Charlotte’s Pine and Emily’s Path to the Moors), 2017. Oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 29 1/4 in. © Celia Paul. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London / Venice.

A trio of sales I’ll be watching this week:


At Bonhams London on Wednesday, February 6, a Travel and Exploration sale, in 205 lots. Expected to lead the way is a sledge from the 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition (known as the “Nimrod Expedition”), estimated at £60,000-100,000. A first edition of David Roberts’ The Holy Land (1842-49), once owned and annotated by noted Blake collector Alice Grace Elizabeth Carthew, could fetch £25,000-35,000. Among the other top-estimated books is a set of the illustrations from Samuel Daniell’s Picturesque Illustration of the Scenery, Animals, and Native Inhabitants, of the Island of Ceylon (1808), at £10,000-15,000 (pictured below).


daniell.png Forum Auctions holds an online sale of Modern Literature & Illustrated Books on Thursday, February 7, in 268 lots. Prices are expected to mostly be in the three-figure range here, though a pair of Russian avant-garde titles from the 1910s and a copy of the final Harry Potter book, signed by J. K. Rowling, are all estimated at £1,000-1,500. There are many other lots of Russian literature and a few more Rowling-signed books, as well as a number of intriguing lots of small press material.


Finally, PBA Galleries will hold a sale in Oakland prior to the California International Antiquarian Book Fair: The Book Fair Century: One Hundred Fine Books - Plus Books Sold to Benefit the ABAA Benevolent Fund. Among the 75 lots sold for the ABAA Benevolent Fund are several Blake editions by Trianon Press (Lots 6-7); a first printing of Hawthorne’s Marble Faun ($200-300); and a portfolio of Whittington Press posters ($1,000-1,500). Other expected highlights include a copy of the first edition in English of Aristotle’s Politics (1598), estimated at $20,000-30,000; a first edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan ($15,000-25,000); an inscribed copy of Dashiell Hammett’s first book, Red Harvest ($15,000-20,000); and a small collection of material relating to Nabokov’s butterfly research ($10,000-15,000). Theodore Roosevelt’s copy of Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is estimated at $4,000-6,000. A Thomas J. Wise forgery, sold with a copy of Wise’s Swinburne bibliography, could sell for $1,000-1,500. 


Image courtesy of Bonhams

At Doyle New York on Tuesday, January 29, an online sale of Americana from the Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, in 312 lots. A wide range of material, including a copy of Henry Hind Youle’s Explorations in the Interior of the Labrador Peninsula, the Country of the Montagnais and Nasquapee Indians (1863) and a journal of an 1890 hunting trip to Colorado, illustrated with photographs (both, as of the time of writing, bid up to $1,200).


Also on Tuesday, Swann sells Fine Illustrated Books & Graphics, in 201 lots. Kandinsky’s Klänge (Munich, 1913) rates the top estimate, at $30,000-40,000. A set of Marie Laurencin’s illustrations for the Black Sun Press edition of Alice in Wonderland (1930), could sell for $15,000-25,000. A copy of the complete Nonesuch Dickens, with an original woodblock, is estimated at $5,000-7,500. Many lots from the Cheloniidae Press, as well, so the collector will want to keep an eye on those.


Dominic Winter Auctioneers sells Printed Books, Maps & Documents on Wednesday, January 30, in 578 lots. A collection twenty of rare Mauritius lithographs from the Souvenirs de Maurice series is estimated at £10,000-15,000, while a collection of correspondence between automobile pioneer Charles Stewart Rolls and photographer F. Howard Mercer could sell for £4,000-6,000.


cirque.png At Forum Auctions on Wednesday, a 568-lot sale of Private Press, Illustrated Books and Modern Editions. Sharing top pegging at £10,000-15,000 are an unsigned, out-of-series copy of Fernand Leger’s Cirque (1950; pictured); one of just twenty-five large paper copies of Oscar Wilde’s The Sphinx (1894), designed by Charles Ricketts; and a Jessie Marion King ink drawing on vellum, “The Lament,” (c.1890s).


Also on Wednesday, Bonhams London holds The Gentleman’s Library Sale, in 628 lots. Mostly furnishings, art, &c., but the catalogue is well worth a browse for the bibliophile.


On Thursday, January 30 at Lyon & Turnbull, Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photography, in 470 lots. Among the top-estimated lots in this one are a special edition of Ian Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (£8,000-12,000) and a set of Captain Cook-related titles (£7,000-9,000).


Freeman’s sells Books, Maps & Manuscripts on Thursday, in 414 lots. A collection of 240 volumes relating to Jewish Displaced Persons in Europe in the years following the end of World War II is estimated at $100,000-150,000. A great mix of other material as well.


Rounding out the busy week of sales, Potter & Potter holds a Fine Books & Manuscripts sale on Saturday, February 2. The sale features a wide range of Chicago memorabilia, including a 1929 New York Central Lines railroad poster ($4,000-5,000). Several lots of Frank Lloyd Wright drawings and blueprints will be on the block, including a signed original floor plan for the Louis Frederick House ($6,000-8,000).


Image credit: Forum Auctions

This past weekend, Yale’s Beinecke Library opened an exhibit dear to the hearts of we gently mad. Even its title is a draw: Bibliomania; or Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance, taken from Thomas Frognall Dibdin’s 1842 book on the topic. The exhibition is divided into four distinct parts, as it explores the relationships of readers, owners, authors, and collectors.

2. E. Libris T. Phillipps copy.jpgEvery Book in the World! tells the story of the legendary nineteenth-century bibliomaniac (emphasis on the maniac), Sir Thomas Phillipps, whose massive collection of manuscripts and early printed books numbered well over 100,000 items. Pictured above: “E Libris T. Phillipps, Aetatis suae 16, Dec. 10, 1808,” from Books, tracts, leaflets and broadsides printed by Sir Thomas Phillipps at his private press at Middle Hill. Courtesy of the Beinecke Library.

6. Hamlet copy.jpgCollated & Perfect, organized in conjunction with the Harry Ransom Center, at the University of Texas, Austin, explains the history of collation and the the quest to find a more perfect text -- including the work of Charlton Hinman, editor of the first folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1968) and inventor of the Hinman Collator. Pictured above: The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke by William Shakespeare (1604). Courtesy of the Beinecke Library.
5 Pillone fore-edge full copy.jpgHabits Ancient and Modern: Surface and Depth in the Pillone Library Volumes delves into a fascinating family library assembled in Italy in the sixteenth century, and the decision to have the fore-edges of many of their volumes painted by Cesare Vecellio, a distant cousin of Titian. Pictured above: Fore-edge paintings by Cesare Vellecio on volumes from the Pillone Library. Courtesy of the Beinecke Library.
7. Weimann Marbled Papers Silhouette copy.jpgThe Whole Art of Marbling offers a sampling of the Beinecke’s vast and beautiful collection of marbled papers to illuminate the art’s history, techniques, patterns, and practitioners. Pictured above: “Silhouette,” plate 22 in Marbled Papers by Christopher Weimann (1978). Courtesy of the Beinecke Library.

The exhibition is on view through April 21. Related events are listed here.

Quite a range of auctions this week to keep an eye on, including three sales on Tuesday, January 22:


At Bunch Auctions, a combined sale of Rare Books & Fine Prints and Native American Artifacts. A first edition of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, with a tipped-in Dickens letter to Ticknor & Fields and other extra material included, is expected to lead the way at $18,000-26,000. Also to be had are a first issue of Oliver Twist ($8,000-10,000) and a number of other important Dickens lots, as well as a 1681 William Penn indenture ($4,000-6,000).


Books and Manuscripts, in 216 lots, will be sold at Il Ponte in Milan. A few highlights are expected to include a copy of La Pérouse’s Voyage (1797) and a 1478 Venice edition of Pomponio Mela’s Cosmographia, both estimated at €6,000-9,000; a Hebrew book in a silver binding is estimated at €3,000-5,000, and a modern fascimile portolan chart (c.1960) based on a sixteenth-century Italian original could fetch €5,000-8,000.


Morton Subastas sells Mexican Historical Documents and Books, in 230 lots. George Wilkins Kendall’s 1851 work The War Between the United States and Mexico is estimated at $350,000-400,000. A reissue of the collection of lithographs published as México y sus Alrededores, originally published in 1855, could sell for as much as $150,000-200,000. Mateo Ximénez’s book of engravings depicting the life of Sebastián de Aparicio y del Prado (Rome, 1789) is estimated at $100,000-120,000, as is a copy of Lorenzana’s Historia de la Nueva España (Mexico City, 1770). An album containing photos and autographs of Mexican actresses of the early twentieth century is estimated at $50,000-60,000.


On Wednesday, January 23, University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Photos & Books, in 260 lots. Handwritten and signed lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” are estimated at $50,000-60,000, and a 1786 letter from John Paul Jones to Thomas Jefferson (as American minister to France) could sell for $24,000-26,000. What is described as the longest J.D. Salinger autograph letter ever offered at auction ($8,000-9,000) will also be up for grabs.


Also on Wednesday, Rare Books & Works on Paper at Chiswick Auctions, in 337 lots.


PBA Galleries sells a Mid-Winter Miscellany Part II, with Illustrated and Children’s Books, on Thursday, January 24. Prices are mostly expected to be in the three-figure range for this 377-lot sale, and lots from 249 through the end are being sold without reserve.


Rounding out the week’s sales is Thursday’s Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana auction at Sotheby’s New York. The 189-lot sale caps Americana Week at the auction house and contains a huge number of very impressive items. Rating the top presale estimate, at $800,000-1,200,000, is a copy of the extremely rare broadside announcing the American ratification of the Treaty of Paris, printed by John Dunlap at Annapolis in early 1784 (pictured). This is just one of two known copies featuring the embossed seal of the United States and signed by both the President and Secretary of Congress.


A copy of the 1823 Stone facsimile of the Declaration of Independence on vellum, inscribed by John Quincy Adams to Thomas Emory--then serving as the President of Maryland’s Governor’s Council--is described by Sotheby’s as the only known copy in private hands to have passed by descent from the original recipient; it is estimated at $600,000-800,000. A fascinating 1757 letter from George Washington to Virginia governor Robert Dinwiddie about the rights of British Americans could fetch $300,000-400,000, while a copy of the first book printing of the Declaration of Independence in a sammelband volume with other important Revolutionary War pamphlets is estimated at $300,000-500,000.


Image credit: Sotheby’s

Woodstock50 Logo.jpgThis year marks the 50th anniversary of the music festival known simply as Woodstock. As just about everyone knows by now, the festival was not held in Woodstock, New York--although anyone who visits the town today would not be disappointed by the amount of tie-dye and goodwill to be found there--and neither will this 50th anniversary edition, opting instead for the larger space at Watkins Glen International Speedway. From August 16-18, the festival’s original producers are planning to bring both music and social activism to a new generation of concert-goers, the children, or more likely, the grandchildren, of original attendees. In a press release, Woodstock 1969’s co-producer and co-founder Michael Lang commented, “The original festival in ‘69 was a reaction by the youth of the time to the causes we felt compelled to fight for - civil rights, women’s rights, and the antiwar movement, and it gave way to our mission to share peace, love and music. Today, we’re experiencing similar disconnects in our country, and one thing we’ve learned is that music has the power to bring people together. So, it’s time to bring the Woodstock spirit back, get involved and make our voices heard.”

Freemans Woodstock.jpgApropos to all this, a vintage Woodstock poster--the iconic red poster featuring a stylized dove perched on the fretboard of a guitar--is headed to auction on January 31 in Philadelphia. Designed by Arnold Skolnick, the groovy poster advertises “3 Days of Peace & Music,” in White Lake, NY, and features the names of performers like The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. The estimate is $800-1,200.

As you can see above, Woodstock 50’s logo riffs on Skolnick’s dove, and indeed the organization tweeted last week, “The Bird of Peace is Back,” when it unveiled its plans.

Image (top) Courtesy of Woodstock Ventures; (middle) Courtesy of Freeman’s Auction

Opening later this week is an exhibition fraught with forgeries. That’s by design. It’s the collection of William Voelkle, the curator emeritus of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts at the Morgan Library and Museum, who recently retired after fifty years with the august institution. (He also wrote a fabulous article for us last year on bejeweled bindings). For five decades, Voelkle has sought fake illuminated manuscript leaves and miniatures, particularly the work of the Spanish Forger, on whom he published a book in 1978.

The exhibition, titled Holy Hoaxes: A Beautiful Deception Celebrating William Voelkle’s Collecting, will premiere in New York on Thursday at Les Enluminures, a gallery that specializes in manuscripts founded by Sandra Hindman. “It’s with much pleasure that we mount this exhibition to celebrate William Voelkle’s collection,” said Hindman. “I myself have long worked on fakes, forgeries, and copyists of medieval manuscripts, and this occasion helps me acknowledge my debt to Bill’s groundbreaking work.”

The works on display include both items that were sold as “real” but later unmasked by Voelkle, and those sold as known fakes. Nothing on exhibit is for sale; it is purely a showcase of the collector’s passion and dedication to his subject of choice. Here are a few highlights:

Les Enluminures - St. Martha taming the Tarasque - Spanish Forger copy.jpg“St. Martha Taming the Tarasque,” one of the largest panel paintings by the Spanish Forger, was made to evoke the Renaissance but was really made in the early twentieth century and was acquired by Voelkle in 1974.

PR 3_Gehze Henetuch MS St George 018 copy.jpgA bogus illustration in a late seventeenth or early eighteenth-century Ethiopian codex, supplied by the Synkessar Miniature Forger.

PR 4_Chirst in Majesty Spanish copy.jpg“Christ in Majesty,” once believed to be a twelfth-century production, is actually a clever nineteenth-century forgery. It was withdrawn from a Christie’s auction in 1987.

Read more in this Q & A between Voelkle and Hindman published by Art & Object. The exhibit runs through February 2. Several special lectures are also planned; check here for details.

Images courtesy of Les Enluminures

On Tuesday, January 15, Heritage Auctions in Dallas will sell the John Silverstein Collection of African American Social History, in 383 lots. James Van Der Zee’s Eighteen Photographs (1974), a portfolio of photographs taken between 1905 and 1938, has an opening bid of $8,750. A collection of more than a hundred letters from Charles A. Hill to his wife Lydia relating to his Civil War service in the 1st Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops has a reserve of $7,500. A poster believed to be the first use of black panther imagery, issued for a voter drive in Lowndes County, Alabama and predating the formation of the Black Panther Party, is currently bid up to $4,200. A collection of forty-one issues of the National Anti-Slavery Standard has an opening bid of $2,000.


Kestenbaum & Company holds an online sale of Printed Books, Holy Land Maps, Posters & Jewish Graphic Art on Thurday, January 17. The 173 lots include a 1917 poster issued as part of a campaign in which Russian Jews were to be allowed to elect members of their own Congress ($4,000-6,000) and a 1929 poster for the second lottery held by OZET, the Society for Settling Toiling Jews on the Land ($3,000-5,000; pictured). A copy of the 1518 Basle edition of Trithemius’ Polygraphiae also rates a $3,000-5,000 estimate. At $2,000-3,000 we find a four-sheet copy of the Tabula Peutingeriana, showing the layout of the roads of the Roman Empire. A number of early printed books and a good selection of maps to be had in this sale.



Among the 484 lots in the Collection of Anne H. & Frederick Vogel III, to be sold at Sotheby’s New York on Saturday, Janaury 19 there are a few Audubon plates, including the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker ($50,000-80,000); the Fish Hawk (Osprey) at $30,000-50,000; and the Ruffed Grouse ($20,000-30,000), among others. A framed copy of the fourth state of John Smith’s map of New England is estimated at $20,000-30,000, as is a copy of the second edition of William Wood’s New England’s Prospect.


Image credit: Kestenbaum & Company

It’s not often that we hear breaking news about medieval manuscripts or, more especially, women’s role in manuscript production. But here we are! In a fascinating (and open-access) article published yesterday in the journal Science Advances, researchers have concluded that the rare blue pigment known as ultramarine, being present in the dental plaque of an 11th- or 12th-century nun’s skeleton unearthed in rural Germany, provides proof of women’s work on illuminated medieval manuscripts. Specifically, it is suggested, the women acted as painters and illuminators -- painting and licking the tip of the brush, according to Monica Tromp, study co-author and microbioarchaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

F2.large.jpgUltramarine, made from the lapis lazuli stone, is “rare and expensive as gold,” the researchers note in the article. “Within the context of medieval art, the application of highly pure ultramarine in illuminated works was restricted to luxury books of high value and importance, and only scribes and painters of exceptional skill would have been entrusted with its use.”

They go on to conclude, as summarized in the article’s abstract, that “The early use of this pigment by a religious woman challenges widespread assumptions about its limited availability in medieval Europe and the gendered production of illuminated texts.”

More on this story in the Atlantic, CNN, and the New York Times.

Image: Blue particles observed embedded within archaeological dental calculus. Credit: C. Warinner (A); M. Tromp and A. Radini (B to I).

The Winter Show, a fair dedicated to art, antiques, and design, returns to the Park Avenue Armory in New York City on January 18 for its 65th annual run. And this year, Nantucket, the tiny island known as much for its whaling history as for its upscale beaches, is a focal point. One of the fair highlights, for example, is this lithograph from 1881 by Beck & Pauli depicting a bird’s-eye view of Nantucket. It is being exhibited by the well known Philadelphia map and print dealer Graham Arader.

23 Arader Galleries_Birds Eye View of Nantucket copy.jpgThe offering is apropos to the Winter Show’s loan exhibition, Collecting Nantucket, Connecting the World, which celebrates 125 years of collecting by the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA). It will present an array of exceptional paintings, craft, and folk arts related to the beautiful summer vacation spot. On Saturday, January 19 at 2:00, the director of the NHA will speak to this in “Connecting the World: 125 Years of Collecting on Nantucket.” And, relatedly, Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the National Book Award-winning In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, will give a lecture on the enduring power of Moby-Dick on the fair’s final day, Sunday, January 27, at 2:00.

Image courtesy of Third Eye/The Winter Show

A return to action in the auction rooms this week, with two sales on Thursday, January 10:

quixote.pngForum Auctions holds an online sale of Books and Works on Paper, in 174 lots. A complete-to-date set of the definitive edition of the works of Voltaire (121 volumes published between 1969 and 2018) is estimated at £1,500-2,000, while a copy of the 38-volume Centenary Limited Edition of Churchill’s works could fetch £1,000-1,500. A collection of 155 vellum-bound (or at least vellum-spined) volumes is estimated at £600-800. Other items of interest here include a New Jersey manuscript receipt book from the 1820s (£200-300); a large collection of bookseller and auction catalogues (£200-300); and a collection of about 600 20th-century Portuguese bookplates (£200-300; one pictured). There are also several large lots of bibliographies and other bibliographical publications.


At PBA Galleries, Literature of the 19th & 20th Centuries, with the Glenn Todd Collection of Arion Press & Beat Literature, in 433 lots. The top-estimated lot is the Arion Press edition of W. B. Yeats’ Poems (1990), with an additional suite of six etchings by Richard Diebenkorn ($15,000-25,000). Glenn Todd’s copy of the Arion Press Moby-Dick (1979) is estimated at $10,000-15,000. The Arion Press edition of Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste (1994) rates a $7,000-10,000 estimate.


Beyond the impressive Arion Press selection, expected highlights from this sale include a rebacked first printing of Tom Sawyer ($4,000-6,000); a signed first edition of John Williams’ Stoner ($2,000-3,000); a first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin with a later laid-in inscription by Stowe ($2,000-3,000). A complete collection of Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series, with some related ephemera, is also estimated at $2,000-3,000. Lots 337-443 are being sold without reserve.


Image courtesy of Forum Auctions

What were some of the biggest stories in 2018? According to our stats, Fine Books readers love Lovecraft--no kidding--and Robin Williams. You’re also interested in cookbooks, illuminated manuscripts, and rare book theft. Missed out on these hot topics? Read on:

#1 H.P. Lovecraft’s Bible is For Sale
Lovecraft’s legions of fans bid his family’s 1881 bible up to (spoiler alert) $4,750.

Walden.png#2 Robin Williams’ Rare Books at Auction
Fifteen rare books that once belonged to the late, great actor went to auction, among them a first edition of Walden (pictured at left) and an Arion Press edition of Moby-Dick.

#3 New Culinary Bookshop to Open in Brooklyn
A.N. Devers broke the big news that Lizz Young was opening a new bookshop in Brooklyn devoted to “cooking, cocktails, and culture.”

#4 Where to See Illuminated Manuscripts
A round-up of major exhibitions of illuminated manuscripts last year.

#5 New Rare Books Heist Film
The book world was buzzing about American Animals, a film based on a real-life special collections robbery in 2004. (I liked it.)

Looking for more fine Fine Books stories? Check out 2017’s top ten.

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

A new acquisition at Penn Libraries illustrates why bibliophiles love Tristram Shandy, even if they aren’t fans of author Laurence Sterne or eighteenth-century British fiction in general. Sterne had more than a passing interest in book production and design; every copy of the first edition of volume three of his most famous work, i.e. Tristram Shandy, includes a unique marbled leaf inserted within the printed text. As you can see in the picture below from a London edition in 1780, a blank with instructions to the bookbinder showed exactly where it should go. (The results vary, of course, which is why perusing copies of TS can be so fun.) 

Blank.pngWith the acquisition of the Geoffrey Day Collection, Penn Libraries reports that it “now houses the best collection of material relating to 18th century British novelist Laurence Sterne and his works in the western hemisphere.” According to a Penn Libraries statement, Day amassed an incredible collection that includes three copies of the rare York-printed first edition of volumes one and two of Tristram Shandy and the only known copy of a completely spurious edition of volume nine, published clandestinely in 1767.

This new collection also contains dozens of examples of the famous marbled leaf, of which Penn shared with us a few:

London .pngFrom Tristram Shandy, vol. 3, first edition, London, 1761.

Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 11.54.14 AM.pngFrom Tristram Shandy, vol. 3, German edition (Hanau), 1776.

Vienna.pngFrom Tristram Shandy, vols. 3-4, Vienna, 1798.

Images courtesy of Penn Libraries

The sequel to the 1964 Mary Poppins film that fans have been waiting more than half a century for is finally here, debuting in theaters across the U.S. this week. (I’ve seen it; it’s fabulous.) Even better, it brings author P. L. Travers back into the spotlight. In a CBS Sunday Morning segment this past Sunday, the actress Emily Blunt, who portrays the spappy English nanny in Mary Poppins Returns, takes a trip to the New York Public Library to examine the first American edition of the novel, as well as some of Travers’ mementoes, including her typewriter, a doll, and her parrot-headed umbrella.

Mary Poppins Soth.jpgA first edition also came up for sale very recently. In an online sale of English literature and children’s books at Sotheby’s that closed on December 10, Travers’ Mary Poppins (1934) in its pictorial dust jacket sold for £2,750 ($3,450). Incidentally, a presentation first edition of the sequel, titled Mary Poppins Comes Back (not Mary Poppins Returns), published in 1935, sold for slightly less at £2,500 ($3,140). Travers inscriptions are quite rare.

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

When Daniel Ryan was just a freshman at a Connecticut boarding school, his English teacher gave him a copy of A Christmas Carol as he headed home for the holidays. It was a gift that ignited not only an interest in Charles Dickens, but a desire to collect. Sixty-five years later, having assembled an extraordinary collection of Dickens’ books, manuscripts, and original art, Ryan is paying it forward by donating it to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts. The collection complements WPI’s Robert D. Fellman Dickens Collection.

Dickens WPI image.jpgJoel J. Brattin, professor of literature at WPI and noted Dickens scholar, said the gift, made jointly by Daniel Ryan and his wife, Alice, will be a transformative addition to WPI’s existing collection. For example, Ryan’s collection contains a significant amount of original art by the sixteen artists who illustrated Dickens’ first editions, and even some of the steel plates used to print those illustrations. “Secondly,” he added, “there are manuscripts, particularly letters written by Dickens to his family and friends, and a complete collection of letters written by all of those original illustrators. This is a collection that would probably be all but impossible to assemble today. It includes one letter from a recently discovered cache of letters that Dickens wrote pertaining to Urania Cottage, a home for the rehabilitation of former prostitutes that Dickens helped establish. Most extraordinary, the collection has two letters written to Dickens. These are extremely rare, since Dickens burned his collection of letters in 1860.”

After high school, Ryan attended Yale University and then spent his career in the oil industry. All the while, he was adding to his collection. When, a few years ago, he acquired an unusual document signed by all of Charles Dickens’ living children, his research led him to WPI, where he learned about the Fellman collection, which had been donated to the school in 1995. Fellman, like Ryan, had been inspired to collect after a fateful encounter with The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club as a teen.   

Dickens class 2.jpgWhen the Ryans visited WPI, they were struck not only by the Fellman collection, but by the way the university has incorporated the use of this special collection into its curriculum. Brattin teaches two seminars on Dickens’ works, during which his students take a hands-on approach to the rare material. In his fall 2018 course on A Christmas Carol, students examined a first edition (pictured above) while discussing the book’s history and reception. Brattin noted that Ryan was “glad to see that WPI is a hands-on kind of place, and that our students will have many opportunities to interact with and use the collection in classes, in project work, and, frankly, in ways that we probably can’t even begin to envision right now.” There’s an opportunity to serve an ever wider audience, which the university has already begun to do by digitizing Dickens’ novels in their original, serial editions through Project Boz.

The wealth of material that will housed at WPI thanks to the Ryan and Fellman collections opens up the possibility of other kinds of innovative educational, research, and outreach efforts, said Arthur Carlson, assistant director of archives and special collections in WPI’s George Gordon Library. “With the works themselves, the letters and manuscripts, the art, and other materials, there will be opportunities for deeper and more meaningful engagement in which students and scholars can explore not just the novels, but the social and personal contexts in which they were created, the community of people Dickens worked with, and the impact he had on so many people. It’s just fascinating to think about the number of facets that will be available through the study of this remarkable collection of material.”

A special exhibit with associated programming at WPI’s Gordon Library is planned to celebrate the Ryans’ gift in 2020, the 150th anniversary of Dickens’ death in 1870.

Images courtesy of WPI

As things settle down in the auction world over the holiday period, here’s a quick check on last week’s action and the few upcoming sales.


The Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale at Christie’s London last week realized a total of £3,879,250, with Adam Smith’s copy of his Wealth of Nations leading the way at £908,750.


I haven’t yet been able to find full results from the fourth sale of books from the library of Pierre Bergé, held on December 14, but media reports indicate that the copy of Proust’s Du côté de chez Swann, inscribed to Lucien Daudet, sold for 1.51 million Euros, setting a new auction record for a French book.


Looking ahead, Bonhams London sells Prints and Multiples on Tuesday, December 18, in 168 lots. Rating the top estimate, at £70,000-100,000, is Goya’s suite of eighty etchings “Los Desastres de la Guerra.” Goya’s eighteen-etching series “Los Proverbios” is estimated at £30,000-50,000, as are Andy Warhol’s 1983 screenprint of Ingrid Bergman, “The Nun” and Francis Bacon’s 1971 lithograph “Étude por una corrida.” An etched sheet of Rembrandt studies, including a self-portrait (pictured below), could fetch £15,000-25,000.


rembrandt.png Sotheby’s New York sells Important Judaica, including a Distinguished Private Collection, on Wednesday, December 19, in 226 lots. A seventeenth-century painting of worshippers at an Italian synagogue is estimated at $250,000-300,000, while the only known kabbalistic manuscript with autograph comments by Rabbi Jonathan Eibeschuetz could sell for $250,000-350,000. A thirteenth-century Torah scroll from Spain, believed to be the second oldest recorded Sephardic Torah scroll, is estimated at $200,000-300,000.


On Thursday, December 20, PBA Galleries holds a Mid-Winter Miscellany auction, in 381 lots. A real hodge-podge, and well worth a browse no matter what areas you collect. Lots 190 through 377 are being sold without reserve, too, so there may well be some bargains to be had.


Image credit: Bonhams

With a nod to our current issue’s cover picturing author/illustrator Eric Carle and celebrating the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary of one of his most famous children’s picture books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, it was welcome news to hear that collectors are on the same page. Last week at Swann Galleries, a hand-painted collage on board of the ravenous caterpillar, signed and framed, sold for $20,000, more than doubling the low estimate of $8,000. In recent years, a first edition of Caterpillar has sold in the range of $11,000-16,000.


748280_view 02_02.jpg      

Carle’s Caterpillar, first published in 1969, is also the subject of a current exhibition at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. It’s on view through March 24, 2019.


Image courtesy of Swann Galleries

Before we get to the very busy calendar of sales coming up this week, I must note a couple of the results from last week’s auction at Christie’s, which saw Einstein’s “God Letter” set a new auction record for an Einstein letter at $2,892,500, and a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone capture the auction record for Harry Potter at $162,500.


Here’s what I’ve got my eyes on this week:


Ader holds a sale of Lettres et Manuscrits Autographes on Monday and Tuesday, December 10-11, in 716 lots over the two days. Expected to lead the first day’s sale are a Gaspare Spontini musical manuscript (€15,000-20,000) and a Paul Verlaine manuscript poem (€8,000-10,000). The second day’s offerings include a number of Karl Marx letters which rate the top estimates of the day.


Bonhams London sells Entertainment Memorabilia on Tuesday, in 161 lots. Some of the printed and manuscript material on offer includes an Eric Clapton autograph copy of the first verse of the lyrics for “Layla” (£35,000-45,000) and a carbon copy of Ian Fleming’s second draft proposal for the first James Bond movie (£30,000-40,000).


Also on Tuesday, Artcurial holds a Books & Manuscripts sale, in 293 lots. A copy of Roberts’ Holy Land rates the top estimate, at €20,000-25,000. An illuminated Book of Hours, produced around 1500 for the use of Bourges, could fetch €12,000-15,000.

bears.pngDominic Winter Auctioneers will sell Printed Books & Maps; Children’s & Illustrated Books; 20th Century Literature on Wednesday, December 12, in 539 lots. The 1835 edition of William Curtis’ Flora Londinensis rates the top estimate, at £5,000-7,000. On Thursday, December 13, Dominic Winter holds a Modern Literature & First Editions sale, in 464 lots. Rating the top estimate there are a pair of very early teddy bears (pictured above), with the original owner’s copy of the book The Roosevelt Bears, Their Travels and Adventures (£7,000-10,000).


At Christie’s London on Wednesday, Valuable Books and Manuscripts, in 279 lots. Quite an array of excellent lots here! Adam Smith’s own copy of his Wealth of Nations, later owned by the great Smith collector Homer Vanderblue, is expected to sell for £500,000-800,000. A presentation copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, inscribed to his cousin Nanette Philips, is estimated at £150,000-250,000. Also on the block will be two manuscript sledging journals from the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition by Tryggve Gran (£120,000-180,000); the 1488 editio princeps of Homer (£100,000-150,000); a first edition Hypnerotomachia (£80,000-120,000); and an extremely rare copy of the Qing “Blue Map” of the world (£50,000-80,000).


Swann Galleries sells Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Thursday, December 13, in 385 lots. A 1593 Cornelis De Jode polar-projection world map is expected the lead the sale at $15,000-20,000. A copy of the third octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds and the royal octavo Quadrupeds could fetch $20,000-30,000, and a chart of the mid-Atlantic coast from Des Barres’ Atlantic Neptune (1780) is estimated at $18,000-22,000.


Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries holds a sale of Americana, Travel & Exploration, Hunting & Sporting, World History, and Cartography, in 573 lots, and Sotheby’s New York sells Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II | Music, Americana, English and Continental Literature, in 152 lots. A few of the many potential highlights from this sale include a collection of fourteen Giuseppe Verdi letters to impresario Alessandro Lanari ($100,000-150,000); a “lost” 1810 Beethoven letter to a friend asking for a boot-black recipe ($50,000-80,000); and a 1755 Benjamin Franklin letter to his friend James Wright about the Braddock expedition ($30,000-40,000).


Rounding out the week, Sotheby’s Paris will sell books from the library of Pierre Bergé on Friday, December 14.


Image courtesy of Dominic Winter Auctioneers

The British Library recently opened an exhibition with super meow-power: Cats on the Page, on view through March 17, presents an array of books, manuscripts, and artwork that features felines.

“Cats have inspired our imagination and creativity for many years--long before their days of dominance on the internet,” Alison Bailey, lead curator of the exhibition, commented in a press release. “By bringing cats we know and love together with new ones from unexpected sources, Cats on the Page showcases the light-hearted side of the British Library’s world-class collections through a selection of just some of the hundreds of paws prowling the pages of its books and manuscripts.”

Here are five of those cool cats:

theprettyplayfultortoiseshellcatlondon1817cthebritishlibraryboard1 copy.jpgThe Pretty Playful Tortoise Shell Cat, London, 1817 (c) The British Library Board

tabbypolkabypbucalossi1865cthebritishlibraryboard copy.jpgTabby Polka by P- Bucalossi, 1865 (c) The British Library Board

pussysbreakfasttimelondonernestnister1892cthebritishlibraryboard copy.jpgPussy’s Breakfast Time, London, Ernest Nister, 1892 (c) The British Library Board
jelliclecatsillustrationaxelschefflerpublishedinoldpossumsbookofpracticalcatsctseliotcfaberfaber copy.jpgJellicle Cats illustration (c) Axel Scheffler published in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (c) T. S. Eliot and Faber & Faber

kitty-in-boots-frederick-warne-and-co-2016-original-copyright-in-illustrations--quentin-blake-2016 copy.jpgKitty in Boots (c) Frederick Warne and co 2016, original copyright in illustrations (c) Quentin Blake, 2016

Floyd-Vinland.JPGMuch like the Voynich Manuscript, the purportedly fifteenth-century Vinland Map continues to be a subject of study and debate in the rare book world. Earlier this year, the map underwent multispectral imaging at Yale University (its owner) and was the focus of an exhibition called Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Now, Scottish researcher John Paul Floyd has published a book, A Sorry Saga, that offers tantalizing new details about the role theft and forgery played in the map’s history. We asked him about it.  

Briefly describe the Vinland Map for our readers.


It’s a medieval-style map of the world, which depicts North America as an island named Vinland. When Yale University announced the map’s existence in a 1965 book, it created a sensation. Experts claimed that the map had been drawn around 1440: over fifty years before Columbus set sail. Latin inscriptions on the parchment linked the map to Norse explorations made around the year 1000 (voyages already known to scholars from ancient Icelandic records). The Yale book sparked a heated debate over who deserved the credit for “discovering” America, and the map’s authenticity was challenged. The verdict of scientific tests of the ink in 1974 seemed damning: Yale had to concede that the map might be a forgery. But in the 1980s other scientists, using different techniques, called the earlier results into question, and in 1996 a second edition of the Yale book hit the press. Other studies followed, reaffirming forgery, and the debate grew very confused.
Why did you find its story so appealing? And how long have you been researching it?


Back in 2011 I came across a 1971 book of conference proceedings which caught my attention and led me to investigate further. I read about how the map had emerged onto the antiquarian bookselling scene in 1957, in association with two genuine medieval manuscripts: the “Tartar Relation” of C. de Bridia (an unknown friar), and a fragment of the Speculum historiale of Vincent of Beauvais. Clearly these two manuscripts must have had some prior history, whether the Vinland Map was authentic or not: yet in 2011 their pre-1957 provenance was as much shrouded in mystery as the map itself. So I began a casual search for “C. de Bridia” online. Within a few hours I came across a Spanish exhibition catalogue from 1893, proving that both documents had formerly belonged to Zaragoza Cathedral Library (significantly, the catalogue description makes no mention of a map). That evening, so far as I could tell, I was the only person in the world who knew about this connection. It was an exciting moment!
Book and manuscript theft, particularly from the Zaragoza Cathedral Library in the 1950s, plays a larger role in all this than previously thought. Can you tell us a bit about that?


The reason the Zaragoza connection is so important is that the man who “found” the Vinland Map -- an Italian book dealer by the name of Enzo Ferrajoli -- was convicted of stealing books and manuscripts from Zaragoza Cathedral Library. The Vinland Map can’t be traced beyond Ferrajoli’s ownership (perhaps for good reason), but the manuscripts associated with the map came from that library. The Zaragoza affair is one of the great forgotten scandals of twentieth-century bookselling; hundreds of valuable stolen items were smuggled from Spain and found their way into institutional collections (not all of which, sad to say, acted with propriety at the time). The Vinland Map story cannot be properly understood without a proper understanding of this context.
Was untangling that part of the story the impetus for your book?


Yes, in part. There is no detailed narrative in English of the Zaragoza affair, so I’ve done my best to remedy the situation using archival documentation as well as published sources. I’m not in any sense a manuscript scholar, but I have been able to identify for the first time the Zaragozan provenance of a number of items in present-day collections. However, my main aim in writing was to vindicate one of the main persons suspected of forging the map (the cartographer Father Josef Fischer), and to present a new, compelling argument against its authenticity. I believe the creator of the Vinland Map made a fatal blunder, in copying details from an eighteenth-century engraving by Vincenzio Formaleoni (1752-1797). The mapmaker’s dependence upon Formaleoni is, to my mind, very obvious; interested readers can look at the images in my book, and decide for themselves. It is a simple, basic discovery; one which decisively settles the forgery issue without the need for scientific analysis -- yet it somehow escaped the experts for half a century!
Regarding the multispectral imaging and analysis by Yale earlier this year: what did that contribute to the saga of the Vinland Map?


I’m impressed by the thoroughness of the Yale scientific team’s investigation, and look forward to the final publication of their research. There was an interesting preliminary presentation at a recent symposium on the map, which can be found on YouTube. I shall have to revise the scientific chapter of my book to take account of the new studies, but there’s one finding in particular that I am very pleased about. In my book, I discussed a puzzling inscription on the back of the map at some length, and concluded that it was half-fake and half-genuine. When a slide appeared on the screen at the symposium substantiating my prediction, I pretty much leapt in the air.
Tell us about yourself: an independent historian? collector?


I am 49, from Glasgow, Scotland. I have a science degree (metallurgy), although I’ve never really used it. I’ve been known to buy and sell the occasional rare book, and I enjoy investigating historical mysteries, but I am a total amateur in the fields of cartography and manuscript studies. To steal the title of Betty MacDonald’s comic memoir, I like to think of my first book as evidence that “Anybody can do Anything.”

Image courtesy of John Paul Floyd

Here are the sales I’ll be watching this week:


On Tuesday, December 4, Sotheby’s London holds a sale of Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, and Continental Books, in 323 lots. A copy of the 1535 Nuremberg edition of Witelo’s treatise on perspective, Id est de natura, in a contemporary roll-tooled binding, is expected to fetch £60,000-80,000. Two miniatures by the Master of the Houghton Miniatures, “King David in Penitence” and “The Coronation of the Virgin” are each estimated at £50,000-70,000, as are manuscripts by Brahms and Schubert. A manuscript book of hours, use of Sarum, produced in the southern Netherlands around the 1470s and later in the Rothschild library, is estimated at £40,000-60,000.


Also on Tuesday, Christie’s New York will sell Albert Einstein’s “God Letter,” estimated at $1-1.5 million, as well as Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts Including Americana, in 222 lots. A copy of the Stone Declaration of Independence facsimile on parchment rates the high estimate there, at $600,000-800,000. An original 1976 watercolor drawing by Maurice Sendak, “A Wild Thing Christmas,” could fetch $300,000-400,000. A Latin Nuremberg Chronicle with early hand-coloring and illumination is estimated at $250,000-300,000. Many, many more high spots to watch in this sale, too.


And one more on Tuesday: Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures at Bloomsbury Auctions.


At Bonhams New York on Wednesday, December 5, Fine Books and Manuscripts including the World of Hilary Knight, in 303 lots. The original Park Plaza Hotel portrait of Eloise (pictured below) is estimated at $100,000-150,000, as is Glenn Gould’s annotated copy of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. A great deal here for any Hilary Knight collector. Later at Bonhams, History of Science and Technology, including Space History, in 658 lots. Highlights are expected to include a working Apple-1 computer ($250,000-350,000), an Albert Einstein manuscript ($150,000-200,000); and a collection of Kurt Gödel correspondence sent to Dr. Martin Davis ($40,000-60,000).


eloise.pngUniversity Archives sells Rare Autographs, Books, and Relics on Wednesday, in 283 lots. A flag believed to have been flying on JFK’s limousine at the time of the president’s assassination is estimated at $60,000-80,000, while a Junipero Serra manuscript about the San Gabriel mission in California could fetch $40,000-45,000.


On Thursday, December 6, Swann Galleries sells Illustration Art, in 284 lots. Norman Rockwell’s “The Pharmacist,” for the March 18, 1939 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, could sell for $70,000-100,000. Much of interest here for those with an interest in Ludwig Bemelmans, Maurice Sendak, and others.


Finally, on Friday, Books, Maps & Manuscripts are on tap at Stockholms Auktionsverk.


Image credit: Bonhams

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) wasn’t your average Nobel Prize winner. He bucked the image of the introverted, socially awkward scientist who prefers the lab to people. He cracked safes for fun. He played the bongos. He performed in Brazilian Carnival festivals. With the help of Ralph Leighton, he wrote bestselling memoirs with jaunty titles such as Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, and What Do You Care What Other People Think?


Lot 100 Crop.jpgFans of the late, beloved American physicist have seen pitifully few items of his come to auction because he donated his archives to Caltech. But as it turns out, he did not give the university everything. 


On November 30 in New York, Sotheby’s will auction several items that Feynman kept for himself--including a book that directly led to the work that won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 (which is also in the sale, with an estimate of $800,000-1,200,000). 

9886 Lot 100 copy 2.jpgFeynman considered the English theoretical physicist Paul Dirac his hero. Included in the sale is Feynman’s 1935 copy of Dirac’s The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, which seems to have received between his senior year in high school and his freshman year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Laden with Feynman’s handwritten diagrams, formulas, and other marginal notes, the book gives a snapshot of a young genius’s brain taking shape and readying to rise to the challenge of its final line: “It seems that some essentially new physical ideas are here needed.” A tantalizing Feynman annotation appears in a section on the polarization of photons: “Analyze this some day.”


The auction estimate is $5,000-7,000. 


Images courtesy of Sotheby’s

A quieter, mostly Paris-based auction calendar this week:


Arcturial sells Sciences: From Galileo to Marie Curie from the Aristophil collections on Monday, November 19. Lots 681 through 690 comprise some amazing Emilie du Chatelet manuscripts, including her translation of Newton (€150,000-250,000; pictured below). (More on that sale here.)


On Tuesday, November 20, Sotheby’s Paris holds a sale of Livres Rares et Manuscrits, in 188 lots. A copy of Antoine Mizauld’s Memorabilium utiliu[m] (1566), a collection of Latin aphorisms, extensively annotated by Ambrose Paré, is estimated at €60,000-80,000. A heavily-corrected manuscript of one chapter from Voltaire’s Histoire de l’établissement du christianisme could sell for €50,000-70,000. A February 28, 1850 Gogol letter to diplomat Alexander Bulgakov is estimated at €50,000-70,000; only three Gogol letters have appeared at auction in the last four decades.


At Christie’s Paris on Wednesday, November 21, Books and Manuscripts, in 134 lots. A copy of Apollinaire’s first book, L’Enchanter pourrissant (1909), one of 25 copies on Japanese paper, is estimated at €30,000-50,000. Rimbaud’s Une Saison en Enfer (1873) in a lovely binding by Rose Adler, could fetch €25,000-35,000.


On Thursday, Madrid’s El Remate Subastas hosts “Antique Books, Manuscripts, Prints, Engravings, Maps & Collecting on Paper,” and over the weekend, Cordier Auctions in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has a Book, Ephemera, and Curio Auction worth watching. 


Image credit: Arcturial

For the first time, one of England’s most famous libraries offers a peek into its restricted “Phi” collection, i.e. books once labeled “obscene” or “improper” and kept from public view. The Story of Phi: Restricted Books, which opened today at the Bodleian’s Weston Library, “explores changing ideas about sexuality and censorship,” according to a press release issued by the library.

Among the 3,000+ volumes in the “Phi” collection are a signed first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a first edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Pop-Up Kama Sutra, Madonna’s book, Sex, and The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking by Alex Comfort, with illustrations by Chris Foss. They were, until recently, shackled by their shelfmark Φ (the Greek letter Phi), a designation launched in 1882 by Victorian librarians to safeguard material deemed immoral for students to peruse (at least without a professor’s letter of support).  

Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, commented,”This display puts the spotlight on the fascinating but little-known Phi collection. It shows the varied and sometimes surprising functions that libraries perform in order to preserve culturally important works for the nation and reveals how librarians have navigated the tension between making materials available for scholarly research while also protecting readers and books.”

The exhibition was curated by Jennifer Ingleheart, professor of Latin at the University of Durham. It runs through January 13.


Image: The frontispiece of The Love Books of Ovid (London, The Bodley Head, 1925), translated from Latin to English by James Lewis May and illustrated by Jean de Bosschère. This illustrated volume of Ovid’s erotic poems was assigned to the Phi collection due to its illustrations while unillustrated versions of the same book were freely available on the Bodleian’s open shelves. Credit: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford/ Reproduced with the kind permission of Alain Bilot.

Many in the rare book world will recognize the name Bromer Booksellers. The Boston-based antiquarian book shop founded by Anne and David Bromer fifty years ago specializes in miniature books, fine bindings, book arts, and illustrated books. Earlier this month, the Bromers marked the shop’s anniversary with the launch of an artsy offshoot called the Bromer Gallery. Located at 607 Boylston Street, the gallery operates in conjunction with the book shop and will feature “original art, edition prints, and related material, executed by artists whose work is centered upon the idea of the book as art,” according to a press release. The inaugural show, on view through January 15, is Goldman and Lee: Shadow and Color, featuring the artwork of artists Jane Goldman and Jim Lee.

postcard_front copy.jpgGoldman, a watercolorist and printmaker, may be known to travelers to the area for the sea life mosaics she designed for Logan Airport. Currently on view at the Bromer Gallery is her Audubon Suite, a series of prints that incorporates plates from Audubon’s iconic Birds of America. The series contains fourteen prints: eight screen prints and six hand-painted pigment prints created by a process that mirrors the way Audubon himself made his prints. As a whole, the series documents a year’s worth of seasons, and each print features an Audubon bird with flora from that season. In a video interview prepared by Bromer Gallery, Goldman calls the work an homage to Audubon, her “favorite artist.”

The exhibit also showcases the work of Jim Lee, a woodcut artist and the proprietor of Blue Moon Press, whose work also focuses on nature, particularly the landscapes of Ireland, New England, and Maritime Canada. In another video interview, Lee discusses his artistic process and talks about how he tries to use “the intersection of type and image as a continuation of the act of drawing” in his bookwork.  

If you’re in Boston this week for Rare Book Week, be sure to check out the Bromers’ new art exhibition space.

Image courtesy of Bromer Gallery

Quite a lineup of auctions this week to keep an eye on.


On Monday, November 12, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sells The Fine Cartographic and Printed Americana Collection of Evelyn and Eric Newman, in 120 lots. Thomas Jeffreys’ 1776 American Atlas rates the top estimate at $60,000-80,000. (More on this sale here in our fall Auction Guide.)


Also at Leslie Hindman, on Tuesday, November 13, Fine Books and Manuscripts, in 331 lots. An Abraham Lincoln letter of September 23, 1864, requesting the resignation of his Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair, could fetch $30,000-50,000. A presentation copy of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, inscribed by Wilde to his friend George Alexander, is estimated at $12,000-18,000. 


At Sotheby’s London on Tuesday, Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History, in 275 lots. Heading up this sale is an unpublished manuscript from 1512 containing accounts various of early European explorations of the Americas (£350,000-450,000). A colored Latin copy of the five-volume Braun & Hogenberg Civitates Orbis Terrarum is estimated at £100,000-150,000.


Doyle New York sells Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on Tuesday, in 462 lots. A fifteenth-century book of hours in Catalan is estimated at $40,000-60,000. Among the lots estimated at $20,000-30,000 are Charles Addams’ original drawing for the dust jacket of Dear Dead Days (1959), a graphite portrait of Almustafa, the prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, and a copy of the first octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds.


Rounding out the Tuesday sales is Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature, in 291 lots. A first edition of Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems (1923), from the collection of Al Hirschfeld, is expected to lead the way at $18,000-25,000. A copy of the 1845 edition of Poe’s Tales could fetch $15,000-20,000.


On Thursday, November 15, the eleventh sale of material from the Aristophil collection happens at Ader in Paris, comprising nineteenth- and twentieth-century illustrated books, manuscripts, and autographs, in 225 lots. Heading up this sale is the manuscript of Flaubert’s Les Mémoires d’un Fou (1838), estimated at €300,000-350,000. André Gide’s manuscript of Les Caves du Vatican could sell for €100,000-150,000.

That same day, Kestenbaum & Co. will offer 130 books from the legendary Valmadonna Trust Library, plus Hebrew Printing in America: The Complete Collection formed by the late Yosef Goldman. 


Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries sells Fine & Rare Books, in 230 lots. Édouard Traviès’ Les Oiseaux les plus remarquables par leurs formes et leurs couleurs (1857) and an early octavo set of Audubon’s Birds are both estimated at $20,000-30,000.

On Friday, Cowan’s in Cincinnati hosts an American History sale with over 200 lots of early photographs, documents, manuscripts, broadsides, and more. A daguerreotype of Sam Houston, estimated at $10,000-20,000 is one of the highlights.



Rounding out the very busy week is Skinner’s biannual Fine Books & Manuscripts sale during “Rare Book Week Boston” on Sunday, November 18. The 354 lots this year include a new-to-market first issue of Poe’s Tales in paper wrappers ($60,000-80,000, pictured above), a first edition Book of Mormon ($45,000-55,000), a number of Audubon plates, and some very interesting Arabic and Persian manuscripts.


Image credit: Skinner, Inc.

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 1.43.45 PM.pngThe highly collectible books of the beloved 20th-century British publisher Victor Gollancz are best and easily spotted by their distinctive bright yellow jackets and unusual use of fonts, which saved him the cost of commissioning cover art, but I learned recently at the ABA’s Chelsea Book Fair that for a short while before Gollancz introduced the yellow jackets, he commissioned 18 pictorial jackets from E. McKnight Kauffer in 1928, many of which were on sale at Chelsea from BAS Ltd, run by Ali & Giles Bird. 


Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 1.43.58 PM.png The jackets are incredibly scarce, distinctive, and highly stylized and reminiscent of Russian contructivism. BAS Ltd. acquired the covers and have made good marriages, tracking down exceptional copies of the first edition books, including a Robert Frost association copy of John Cournos’ Babel


Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 1.44.10 PM.png


Images credit: A. N. Devers

Coming to auction next week is a first edition of Jack London’s The Sea-Wolf, published in 1904. What makes this copy so coveted--the estimate is $4,000-6,000--is its “extraordinarily rare dust jacket, previously known only by rumor if at all, with just one other copy thought to exist ... an astonishing survival,” according to the Swann Galleries cataloguer. Be it fragmentary, toned, and brittle, still the paper dust jacket remains, covering a handsome pictorial binding.

M37910-1_2a copy.jpgThe Sea-Wolf is an adventure novel very much in the vein of London’s previous hit, The Call of the Wild. The story’s antagonist is ship captain Wolf Larsen; it’s worth noting that London’s nickname was “Wolf,” and his mansion was called “Wolf House.”

M37910-1_1 copy.jpgImages courtesy of Swann Galleries

Dominic Winter Auctioneers will sell Printed Books, Maps & Documents on Wednesday, November 7, in 582 lots. A first edition of de Bergamo’s De claribus mulieribus (1497), described as “one of the finest and most beautiful early Italian illustrated books and the first to attempt life-like portraits,” is estimated at £7,000-10,000. A collection of more than 370 Chinese botanical watercolors from around 1700 (one pictured below) could sell for £5,000-8,000. A rare proof copy of Thomas Bradshaw’s Views in Mauritius, from the library of the first British governor of the island, is estimated at £3,000-5,000.



Christie’s online sale On the Shoulders of Giants: Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Hawking, ends on Thursday, November 8. All 52 lots in this sale are quite extraordinary, from an inscribed photostatic copy of Stephen Hawking’s dissertation (£100,000-150,000) to a Newton manuscript of extracts from an alchemical work (£80,000-100,000). The top-estimated Darwin lot is an 1876 letter to Henry Nottidge Moseley in which Darwin defends the idea of evolution by natural selection.


Also on Thursday, Swann Galleries holds an Autographs sale, in 374 lots. An August 1861 Robert E. Lee letter to a field colonel in the Kanawha Valley (in what is now West Virginia) is estimated at $15,000-25,000. A letter written by Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State to the Governor of Maryland about the Genêt affair could sell for $10,000-20,000. A pencil sketch by JFK on Senate stationery showing his World War II boat PT-109 is estimated at $5,000-7,500.


A third sale on Thursday is the Food and Drink auction at PBA Galleries, in 373 lots. Rating the top estimate there at $8,000-12,000 is Abby Fisher’s What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking (1881), the second published cookbook written by an African-American woman. A copy of the first Creole cookbook, The Creole Cookery Book (1885), could fetch $5,000-8,000 (a second copy, rebound, rates the same estimate).


Finally, the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society holds another of its auctions of rare and used books on Friday, November 11. See the full PDF catalog.


Image credit: Dominic Winter Auctioneers

There seems no better time than the eve of Halloween to feature the artwork of Charles Addams, the American illustrator whose penchant for the macabre gave us The Addams Family, as well as many wonderfully dark New Yorker cartoons. Besides, one of his most interesting pieces is headed to auction in two weeks.

DDD.jpgOn November 13, Doyle will offer the original drawing for the dust jacket of Addams’ Dear Dead Days: A Family Album, published in 1959, that indeed features the famous family, each of whom appears to be contemplating their demise. The ink and gouache on board is signed and further inscribed “For Margie & Alex with affection - Chas Addams, New York 1959”--“Alex” being Alexander King, author and mid-century media personality, from whose estate this drawing derives.

The estimate is $20,000-30,000.

Image courtesy of Doyle

Another very busy week in the book-auction world:


PIASA in Paris will hold a two-day sale of modern books from the library of François Mitterand, with lots 1-334 sold on Monday and lots 335-683 on Tuesday. The sale includes a good number of signed and inscribed copies, as well as many volumes bound by Mitterand’s wife Danielle. Mitterand often noted on a small inserted slip of paper where and when he acquired each book, and the price he paid.


Also ending on Tuesday, October 30, Doyle New York’s online sale of Travel Literature and Sporting Books from the Library of Arnold ‘Jake’ Johnson, in 272 lots.


Sotheby’s online single-item sale of a poster for the 1932 film The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff, ends on Wednesday, October 31. The starting bid is $950,000.



Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sells The Adventure & Exploration Library of Steve Fossett, Part I on Wednesday, in 215 lots. A copy of the rare variant of Aurora Australis, signed by Shackleton, could sell for $60,000-80,000. An unrecorded issue on vellum of Humboldt and Bonpland’s Vues des Cordillères (1810) is estimated at $30,000-40,000. For the travel/exploration collector, certainly a sale to which attention should be paid. (More on that sale in our fall auction guide.)


Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Photos, Books & Relics are the order of the day on Wednesday at University Archives, in 283 lots. A manuscript of Bob Dylan’s lyrics for “The Times They Are A-Changin’” is estimated at $50,000-60,000, while a rosary once owned by JFK could fetch $20,000-24,000.


On Thursday, PBA Galleries sells The Joel Harris Collection of Original Illustration Art and Illustrated Books (with additions), in 360 lots. Among the examples of original illustration art on offer are Kam Mak’s oil painting used for the cover of Katherine Kirkpatrick’s Keeping the Good Light ($3,000-5,000).


Addison & Sarova holds a sale of Rare Books & the Harrison Forman Archive on Saturday, November 3, in 367 lots. A first edition of Donne’s Pseudo-Martyr (1610) is estimated at $12,000-18,000. A 1590 copy of Spenser’s Faerie Queene which once belonged to scholar H. W. Garrod (whose research concluded that it had been inscribed by Spenser’s wife) could sell for $10,000-15,000. Lots 306-367 include material from the collection of reporter and photographer Harrison Forman (1904-1978), including photographs of Tibet and Mongolia, film reels, notebooks, &c.


Image credit: Sotheby’s

This past weekend the British Library opened a major, “once-in-a-generation” exhibition, the largest ever on the history, literature, and culture of Anglo-Saxon England, according to a press release from the BL. “From stunning illuminated manuscripts to the earliest surviving will of an English woman, Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War will highlight the key role manuscripts played in the transmission of ideas, religion, literature and artistic influences throughout England and across political and geographical boundaries, as well as the sophisticated skill and craftsmanship of the artwork produced at this time.”

The show defies the very idea of “high points,” but here’s a look at six stunning manuscripts you can see in London now through February 19, 2019.  

codex-amiatinus-biblioteca-medicea-laurenziana copy.jpgThe Codex Amiatinus is the earliest surviving complete Bible in Latin, made at the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow in the northeast of England in the early 8th century and taken to Italy in 716 as a gift for the Pope. It will be returning to England for the first time in more than 1,300 years, on loan from the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. Credit: Sam Lane Photography

beowulf-british-library-board copy.jpgThe British Library’s unique manuscript of “Beowulf.” It is one of four manuscripts of Old English poetry on exhibit, along with the Vercelli Book, the Exeter Book, and the Junius Manuscript. Credit: British Library Board

domesday-national-archives copy.jpgOn loan from The National Archives is the Domesday Book, the most famous book in English history and the earliest surviving public record. Credit: The National Archives

lindisfarne-gospels.jpgThe Lindisfarne Gospels, pictured here, is one of several outstanding illuminated and decorated manuscripts on display, alongside the St. Augustine Gospels, the Book of Durrow, and the Echternach Gospels. Credit: British Library Board

st-cuthbert-gospel.jpgThe oldest intact European book with its original binding is the St. Cuthbert Gospel, made at the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow in the northeast of England in the early 8th century; it was acquired by the British Library in 2012. Credit: Sam Lane Photography

vespasian-psalter copy.jpgThe Vespasian Psalter includes the oldest translation of part of the Bible into English and depicts two musicians playing similar instruments. Credit: British Library Board

Quite a busy auction week coming up:


On Tuesday, October 23, Mexico City auction house Morton Subastas sells Libros y Documentos: Colección de un Bibliófilo, in 261 lots. Brasseur and Waldeck’s Monuments Anciens du Mexique Palenque et Autres Ruines de l’Ancienne Civilisation du Mexique (1866) rates the top estimate, at 500,000-800,000 pesos (roughly $26,000-41,000). A 1585 Mexico City imprint, Estatutos Generales de Barcelona, could fetch 300,000-400,000 pesos ($16,000-21,000).


Also on Tuesday, Lettres et Manuscrits Autographes at Ader in Paris, in 453 lots. A George Sand manuscript is estimated at €12,000-15,000.



There are some books and manuscripts among the 255 lots in the Arts of the Islamic World sale at Sotheby’s London on Wednesday, October 24. A thirteenth-century two-volume copy of Ibn Sinna (Avicenna)’s Canon of Medicine is estimated at £80,000-120,000, while a volume of surgeon Ibn al-Quff’s commentary on the Canon, also from the thirteenth century, could fetch £70,000-90,000. A manuscript of two astronomical works collected together and copied around 1295 is estimated at £50,000-70,000 (pictured above).


Bonhams Edinburgh hosts the Sporting Sale on Wednesday, in 391 lots. There are some books on angling and so forth at the start of the sale.


Swann Galleries sells Rare & Important Travel Posters on Thursday, October 25, in 232 lots. Emil Cardinaux’s St. Moritz (1918) could fetch $15,000-20,000, and sharing estimates of $12,000-18,000 are Burkhard Mangold’s Winter in Davos (1914) and Philip Zec’s striking By Night Train to Scotland (1932).


Forum Auctions has an online sale of Books and Works on Paper on Thursday, in 126 lots. Lots 1-70 come from the collection of the late Sol Rabb, and lots 115-126 are from the collection of James Stevens Cox, F.S.A.


Finally, and also on Thursday, Heritage Auctions sells Historical Manuscripts, in 301 lots. An Abraham Lincoln letter to George McClellan of October 29, 1862, just a week before McClellan’s sacking, has a $60,000 reserve. A large Civil War archive of Massachusetts cavalryman William B. Arnold has a $14,000 reserve.


Image credit: Sotheby’s

On Monday, October 15, there were some notable books and manuscripts at the Sotheby’s New York auction of Gallison Hall: The James F. Scott Collection. In fact, it was a copy of the rare first edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia which garnered the top price of the sale at $300,000 (this copy was previously sold at Sotheby’s as part of the James S. Copley library in 2010 for $254,500). Also selling well were a copy of the 1814 edition of Lewis & Clark’s History of the Expedition ($75,000) and an 1826 Thomas Jefferson letter to Robert Mills about a plan for a monument to George Washington ($43,750).


swann.pngSwann Galleries sold Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books, including Phillippine Imprints, on Tuesday, October 16, in 276 lots. The top lot was a copy of a 1488 Strassburg edition of Mandeville’s history of the world, the seventh printed edition in German: it sold for $106,250 over estimates of just $8,000-12,000. A 1734 navigation manual printed in Manila fetched $55,000 (pictured). At $45,000 were a 1494 Zaragoza edition of Boccaccio’s De claris mulieribus in Spanish, as well as a 1668 Paris edition of Fontaine’s Fables.


Chiswick Auctions sold Travel, Natural History, Sporting & Sciences on Wednesday, October 17, in 289 lots.


On Thursday, October 18, PBA Galleries will sell Modern Literature & Poetry with Books in All Fields, in 558 lots. Among the expected top lots are the Black Sun Press edition of Hart Crane’s The Bridge ($30,000-50,000); a first issue of Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, with the dust jacket ($15,000-25,000); and a set of unbound sheets of Lovecraft’s The Shunned House ($7,000-10,000).


Potter & Potter sells Houdiniana on Saturday, October 20, in 438 lots. This sale includes the Houdini collection of John Bushey, as well as additional magic-related books, props, &c.


Image credit: Swann Galleries

At the end of October, the University of London will host a one-day symposium called Women and the Book, noting that this year, the University of London celebrates the 150th anniversary of women’s first access to university education in Britain with the intake of eight women at Queen Mary College.


Tiffany poster.jpgDespite the fact that men have been granted far more access to education than women over the centuries, and have consequently dominated the world of books, women have been writing for at least over 1,000 years, and have been book owners, readers, and publishers since at least the Middle Ages. Therefore the symposium aims to explore the interaction of women and books in Britain from the Middle Ages to the present, from the time that the book left the printing house: as collectors, owners, readers, and mediators, whether curatorial (librarians) or literary (adapting and translating for new audiences). It aims to enable connections across time and across types of engagement with the book, in discussions covering book, literary, and cultural history.


Guest speakers include Dr. Katie Halsey from University of Stirling, who will be speaking about women reading Jane Austen. Dr. David Pearson from University of London will discuss the women book owners of the seventeenth century. It’s worth sharing that Pearson keeps an open source list-in-progress of notable book owners in the seventeenth century, a superb resource for research in the history of the book and for building an understanding of who was buying and reading books in Britain. 


There are three talks on the early modern period, including a talk about early modern women’s texts by Marie-Louise Coolahan and Mark Empey, a talk on embroidered bookbindings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Gilly Wraight, and one by Stephanie Fell titled “Women’s Hidden Work: Innovative and Creative Descriptive Practices for the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.” Fell will be discussing the work of catalogers at Duke to create access to topics of scholarly interest - like women and provenance or women printers.


There are three talks themed on the idea of “Women Striking Out” with Stephanie Meek on the censuring of the woman reader, Karin Winslow, who will speak aobut Bella da Costa Greene, and Alicia Carroll on women and the collection of herbal texts in the twentieth century. 


Sara Charles will speak about Medieval readership of a text from a thirteenth-century priory, and Sophie Defrance will speak about girls’ use of libraries at the beginning of the twentieth century.


There is also tea. Of course. The symposium will be held on October 26, from 9:30 am-6:45 pm, Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, University of London. And tickets can be booked online.

Sotheby’s Paris sells the seventh part of the R. & B. L. Library on Tuesday, October 9: First Editions, Reviews, Autograph Letters, and Manuscripts, in 313 lots. One of the very rare 1869 copies of Isidore Lucien Ducasse’s Les chants de Maldoror is estimated at €100,000-150,000, while six Mallarmé poems in manuscript could fetch €80,000-120,000. An 1891 letter from Rimbaud to his sister Isabelle is estimated at €80,000-100,000. A number of other Rimbaud and Mallarmé manuscripts also rate high estimates.


On Wednesday, October 10, Chiswick Auctions holds a sale of Autographs & Memorabilia, in 314 lots. Among the expected top lots are a December 1948 letter by Wallis Simpson (£5,000-7,000); a letter from Lord Nelson to Sir William Hamilton (£4,000-6,000); an original typed indictment from the Nuremberg Trials (£3,000-4,000); and a Charles Darwin letter to his cousin (£3,000-4,000).



At PBA Galleries on Thursday, October 11, PBA Galleries sells Rare Golf Books & Memorabilia, in 234 lots. The rare 1891 Duffers’ Golf Club Papers, in original wrappers, is estimated at $20,000-25,000. An 1873 volume of “golfing verse,” Blackheath Golfing Lays, could sell for $10,000-15,000. Also on offer is the only known copy of the program for the 1910 U.S. Amateur Championship ($7,000-10,000), and a wooden measuring device from the Manchester Golf Club (also $7,000-10,000; pictured above).


Image credit: PBA Galleries

Lyon & Turnbull sells Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs on Tuesday, October 2, in 419 lots. A complete copy of Baschieri and Gazzadi’s Zoologia Morale (1843-1846; pictured below) is estimated at £5,000-7,000, while a 1565 Venice edition of Mattioli’s Commentarii could fetch £4,000-6,000. At the same estimate is a special copy of J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, inscribed by Rowling.



At Dominic Winter Auctioneers on Wednesday, October 3, Printed Books, Maps & Prints, in 536 lots. Saint-Non’s Voyage Pittoresque de Naples et de Sicile (1781-1786), nearly complete, could sell for £5,000-8,000. An album containing forty-three caricatures by Cruikshank, Gillray, Rowlandson and others is estimated at £3,000-5,000. Some other notable lots include a collection of about 150 “Baxter prints” (£600-900), and a copy of the marvelous 1900 satirical political caricature map “John Bull And His Friends” (£2,000-3,000).


There are a few books among the 309 lots in Creating a Stage: The Collection of Marsha and Robin Williams, to be sold at Sotheby’s New York on Thursday, October 4. See Rebecca’s post from last week for an overview.


Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries sells Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography, in 517 lots. Note that lots 365-517 are being sold without reserve. A mixed set of the octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds of America rates the top estimate, at $30,000-50,000. A copy of the first octavo edition of McKenney & Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America is estimated at $10,000-15,000. A couple other interesting lots include a manuscript volume of Gold Rush-era songs and an 1852 Gold Rush diary (both estimated at $3,000-5,000).


And Saturday sees a special, inaugural auction of Music & Dance: Rare Scores, Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Signed Photographs, Prints and Drawings hosted by antiquarian booksellers J & J Lubrano.


Image credit: Lyon & Turnbull

Next week the eclectic collection of the late Robin Williams and his wife, Marsha, goes to auction in New York. The offerings range from artworks by Banksy (five of them!) to film props; fancy watches to toy figurines. And, like fellow actors Charlton Heston and Sylvester Stallone, Williams accumulated a handful of rare books, too. Fifteen are included in this sale, some with neat backstories.  

Godot.pngThe most poignant might be the lot containing three first editions (the true first from Paris, a first UK, and a first American) of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, estimated at $1,500-2,500). In 1988, Williams starred in a production of the play at Lincoln Center, alongside Steve Martin and F. Murray Abraham, directed by Mike Nichols. According to the auction house, “It was this role that helped expose Williams’ performative breadth and established his place as a serious actor capable of moving beyond the comedic and into more dramatic roles.”

Stanis.pngAlong the same lines is this inscribed, presentation copy of Konstantin Stanislavski’s 1936 book, An Actor Prepares, bound in half purple morocco over floral cloth boards. It is estimated at $2,000-3,000.

Tenny.pngCould it be that this collection of illustrations from Tennyson’s Idylls was a keepsake from his Dead Poets Society days? This “book” is really an album containing eight illuminated vellum leaves, c. 1862. According to the catalogue, “A note accompanying the volume suggests that these leaves were used for making color-lithograph plates, and that they were later mounted and bound into this album, which was then presented to Tennyson as a memento.” It is estimated at $4,000-6,000. (Of related interest: Williams’ own Dead Poets Society vest!)

Walden.pngNo, there’s no Whitman (“O Captain! My Captain!”) here for DPS fans, but there is a first edition of Walden. As the Sotheby’s cataloguer reminds us, “In Dead Poet[s] Society (Touchstone, 1989), Thoreau was one of the writers that Williams’ character, Mr. Keating, quoted to his students as he inspired them to lead lives marked by individualism and self-reliance, tenets at the heart of the transcendentalist movement.” The volume shows some wear. Its estimate is $10,000-15,000.

Twain Inscript.pngIt’s no surprise to find Mark Twain among Williams’ special books, and here is a pirated Canadian edition of his Sketches with a fantastic contemporary inscription on the endpaper that reads, “This book was published in 1880--one year before entered so it says--see title page--It means that the thieves never entered it at all does it not?” Under that, in Twain’s own hand, is an addendum: “Pirate edition, I suppose. Mark Twain.” It is estimated at $2,000-3,000. The next lot is 25-volume autograph edition of Twain’s works, bound in maroon morocco, and estimated at $3,000-5,000.

Moby.pngAnd then there’s the Arion Press edition of Moby-Dick (1979), with woodcuts by Barry Moser, printed on handmade paper. The San Francisco-based Arion Press sets the standard for fine press books in America, and this folio is estimated at $6,000-8,000. According to Sotheby’s, “Robin and Marsha were avid supporters of the Arion Press and Grabhorn Institute.”

But that’s not all -- the remainder include a first edition Oxford English Dictionary, a W. Heath Robinson-illustrated Shakespeare, and the 1847 edition of Euclid’s works.   

Images via Sotheby’s

Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” Turns 30



“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.” That quote and many others extolling the virtues of reading great books comes from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Originally published on October 1, 1988, Dahl’s now-classic tale of a gifted girl cursed with horrible parents and a tyrannical headmistresses was an immediate success. Receiving the Children’s Book Award in 1989, becoming a major motion picture in 1996, and inspiring the 2010 musical adaptation, Matilda is perhaps Dahl’s best-selling book, with over 17 million copies in print.

Collectors should head to British rare bookseller Peter Harrington who is offering six first editions of Matilda. “In recent years, Matilda has become our top-selling book,” explained Peter Harrington’s son and current owner, Pom. “Matilda is a fabulous spirited girl and the book is loved by adults and children alike.”

Among the six copies offered for sale are two inscribed first editions, one being a presentation copy with, “To all the Briggs, with love, Roald. 9/4/88” at the front. Michael Briggs had operated on Dahl’s spine in 1978, after which the men became good friends. This copy is available for £4,000 ($5,300). The second inscribed copy, available for for £3,500 ($4,630) reads: “Camilla, love Roald Dahl.”


unnamed (1).png  

Additionally, Penguin Random House will be releasing special editions of the book on October 4 with new cover images by the book’s original illustrator, Quentin Blake. Each of the three covers features a grown-up Matilda as an astrophysicist, a world traveler, and Chief Executive of the British Library. These 30th anniversary editions are available for pre-order starting at $17.99. 



Images: (Top and Middle) Courtesy of Peter Harrington; (Bottom) Courtesy of the British Library Shop.

Coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 18-19, at Sotheby’s London, The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing, in 942 lots. I’ll have more on this sale in the next print issue, but an expected highlight is a presentation copy of Galileo’s Difesa (1607), inscribed by Galileo to Girolamo Cappello, a riformatore at Padua University. It is estimated at £300,000-400,000. A copy of the second issue of Galileo’s first published work, on the operation of the geometrical compass, rates an estimate of £60,000-80,000.


Quite a few other lots of interest in this sale, including Ada Lovelace’s translation of L. F. Menabrea’s report on a series of lectures delivered by Charles Babbage in Turin. From the library of the Lovelace family at Horsley Towers, it is estimated at £6,000-8,000. A 12th-century Arabic arithmetical manuscript (pictured below) by Mubashir Ibn Ahmad al-Razi could sell for £20,000-30,000. The Macclesfield copy of William Pratt’s Arithmeticall Jewell (1617) is estimated at £15,000-20,000.


On Thursday, September 20, PBA Galleries sells Rare Books & Manuscripts from the Library of James “Ted” Watkins, in 309 lots. A 1647 letter from Louise de Merillac de Gras to Vincent de Paul (both future saints), and a Sangorski & Sutcliffe illuminated manuscript of James Russell Lowell’s The Vision of Sir Launfal (1908) share the top estimate of $10,000-15,000. A copy of the Lakeside Press Moby Dick, signed by Kent on the title page with a pencil sketch of the whale-tail motif used on the covers of the volumes, could fetch $7,000-10,000. A partial set (14 of 25 volumes) of the 1957-67 Robert Speller & Sons edition of Hough’s American Woods is estimated at $2,000-3,000.


At Ader in Paris, also on Thursday, Livres de Photographies, in 289 lots. Top lots are expected to include Germaine Krull’s Métal (1928), estimated at €8,000-10,000; the first four numbers of the photographic quarterly Camera Work (1903), edited and published by Alfred Stieglitz (sold separately as lots 2-5); and a 1930 edition of Gérard de Nerval’s Le Valois with photographs by Germaine Krull (€3,500-4,500).


Image credit: Sotheby’s

A quill pen that belonged to the Victorian artist and publisher William Morris is headed to auction at Forum Auctions in London on September 27. The antique writing instrument resides in a wooden frame alongside a metal plate that reads: “This pen belonged to William Morris.” A label on the back indicates that the pen passed to Emery Walker, a printer and engraver who worked with Morris at the Kelmscott Press, and thence to John Drinkwater, whose ‘critical study’ of Morris was published in 1912.

Morris Pen.jpgIt’s an understatement to say that Morris looms large in the world of book collecting, which is why the auction estimate of £300-500 ($400-660) seems rather conservative. As Reynolds Price once said to Nicholas Basbanes about his association copy of Paradise Lost, “I was touching the hand that touched the hand that touched the Hand,” it is this direct association with Morris, the visionary of the Arts and Crafts movement, that would compel a devout collector to bid on this piece of realia. 

The lot includes two other pens owned by Drinkwater, as well as a copy of his book on Morris.

Image via Forum Auctions

A quiet auction week, with just one sale to preview:


On Thursday, September 6, PBA Galleries sells Literature with Books in All Fields, in 607 lots. The top-estimated lot is a copy of Herbert Childs’ biography of American physicist Ernest Orlando Lawrence, An American Genius (1968). Inscribed by the author and signed by more than forty scientists (among them ten Nobel laureates) and Lawrence family members, the volume is estimated at $10,000-15,000.


An early American edition of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, with the publisher’s printed dust-jacket, is estimated at $3,000-5,000, while an inscribed first edition of Stephen King’s Carrie could fetch $1,500-2,000. The rare final section of Richard Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy, is estimated at $1,000-1,500, as is the first printing of Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” (in Miscellaneous Poems and Translations). The original typescript of Lawrence Block’s Ariel, with the author’s set of galley proofs, rates the same estimate; there are two other Block manuscripts and typescripts on offer as well.


A first edition of Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912) is estimated at $600-900, and an inscribed copy of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) is rated at $400-600. 


Lots 367-607 are being sold without reserve.


Image credit: PBA Galleries

The books-to-film genre amps up its bookishness with “The Bookshop,” a new drama directed by Isabel Coixet and starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, and Patricia Clarkson. Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s slim but affecting 1978 novel, the film is a period piece set in a small, coastal English town in 1959. A young widow named Florence Green decides to open a bookshop there, much to the consternation (and later condemnation) of residents.

Florence Green .jpg“This quiet woman, in a quiet village, in very quiet post-war England, is a call to everyone to grow up and claim responsibility for making life better for us all. This is an allegory for the underdog before there was someone there to root for them or make them believe in themselves,” the director commented in a release.

Brundish.jpgGreen comes to understand that this town may not be ready for a cultural awakening. One of her only allies, it seems, is Mr. Brundish, a reclusive bibliophile.

Of special note is the attention to detail in bookshop scenery. A New York Post article from last week reveals how the director “found tons of vintage rare books” to use in the film. For example, she needed 250 copies of the first edition of Lolita. Fascinating!

Having just read and enjoyed Fitzgerald’s novel first the first time earlier this year, I’m on the lookout for showtimes near me (it is now playing in NYC & LA, and wider distribution begins on August 31). Until then, the trailer must suffice:

Images: (Top) Florence Green, played by Emily Mortimer; (Bottom) Mr. Brundish, played by Bill Nighy. Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment.

Here’s what’s coming up this week on the auction front:


Forum Auctions holds an online sale on Tuesday, August 28, of the second part of A Bibliophile’s Bibliographic Library, in 376 lots; the books are available for viewing in Rome. Much will be of interest here to the Italian-reading bibliographer, bookseller, or book historian, and the starting prices are mostly in the two-three-figure range, so bargains may be quite possible.



On Thursday and Friday, August 30 and 31, Keys Fine Art Auctioneers holds a two-day sale of Books & Ephemera, in 1309 lots. Among the top-estimated lots are a 1532 edition of Durer’s Institutiones Geometricae, with the final leaves supplied in manuscript fascimile (£1,800-2,200); a copy of the second issue of Darwin’s Descent of Man (£1,500-2,000); Bowen’s Atlas Anglicanus with the prospectus laid in (£1,500-2,000); and the first issue of The Beano Book (£1,200-1,500; pictured).


Image credit: Keys Fine Art Auctioneers

Lovecraft’s legions of fans may be interested to hear that his family’s 1881 bible, which contains his birth record and his parents’ certificate of marriage, is currently on offer at Heritage Auctions. The now tatty leatherbound bible was gifted to his mother, “Miss S. Susie Phillips. From her Mother. March 22nd, 1889.” As is typical with family bibles of this era, decorative leaves offer places to record marriages, births, and deaths. In this one, someone, presumably his mother or father, penned: “Howard Phillips Lovecraft born Aug. 20th, 1890. Providence, R. I., 94 Angell Street.” A later inscription, in a different hand, notes the deaths of both Sarah and H.P.

Bible 2 copy.jpgLovecraft’s fame as a writer of short stories in the horror and fantasy genres was, sadly, posthumous. (He died in 1937.) Today, he is beloved by fans, including Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King, and collectors--in 2016, a typewritten manuscript of a story he is believed to have ghostwritten for Harry Houdini sold for $33,600.

Bible 1 copy.jpgThe bidding for the bible opened at $500, and will continue online until the live auction of rare books on September 13 in Dallas.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Chiswick Auctions holds their Summer Books sale on Tuesday, August 22, in 192 lots. Some interesting lots of bibliographical texts in this one (lots 20-38), as well as a first edition of Watership Down inscribed by Richard Adams to his friend Randall Thornton (£800-1,200) and a ready-made collection of forty-one Tauchnitz editions of Wodehouse novels (£300-400).


Also on Tuesday, University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics, in 298 lots. A July 1863 Abraham Lincoln letter to Freedmen’s Inquiry Commissioner Robert Dale Owen is estimated at $50,000-60,000, while a fragment from the shirt Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated could sell for $25,000-30,000. A life-size wax mold of Albert Einstein’s head, signed by Einstein, is estimated at $15,000-20,000.


PBA Galleries sells Americana & the Mexican-American War - Travel & Exploration - Cartography on Wednesday, August 23, in 739 lots (with lots 563-739 being sold without reserve). The 1866-1868 diary of a mining engineer in Montana rates the top estimate, at $6,000-9,000. A very large world map printed on cloth, used to advertise revival meetings around the turn of the twentieth century, is estimated at $3,000-5,000. At the same estimate, and being sold separately, are two photographic order books from the San Francisco firm R. J. Waters & Co., offering photographic prints of sailing ships and of the city of San Francisco.


thurston.png Last but certainly not least, Potter & Potter holds their Summer Magic Auction on Friday, August 25, in 467 lots. Among the expected highlights are a three-sheet color lithographic poster from 1916 for Thurston the Great Magician ($15,000-25,000; pictured). A metal kettle designed to allow the magician to pour any of four drinks could sell for $10,000-15,000, and at the same estimate is Isaac de Caus’ 1659 treatise New and Rare Inventions of Water-Works. Many books, tricks, scrapbooks, &c.


Image credit: Potter & Potter

Love language and wordplay, puns and palindromes (you know, those words and phrases that read the same backwards and forwards)? Well, you’re not alone. Following a popular 2015 short film called A Man, A Plan, A Palindrome, documentary filmmakers Vince Clemente and Adam Cornelius decided to continue following--and filming--the world’s greatest palindrome writers. Today they launched an Indiegogo campaign to finance the final phases of post-production of a feature-length documentary titled The Palindromists.

Starring New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz, children’s author/illustrator Jon Agee, entertainer Weird Al Yankovic, and actress and author Danica McKellar, The Palindromists delves into “the history of palindromes while following the world’s greatest palindromists as they prepare for the 2017 World Palindrome Championship.” You can preview the trailer here:

Say the filmmakers, “With the necessary funds, this film will find its rightful place on the shelf next to the other great ‘geek’ documentaries of the past 20 years.”

Doyle will hold an online-only sale of Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold “Jake” Johnson on Tuesday, August 14, in 215 lots. John Cyril Francis’ Three Months’ Leave in Somali Land (1895), a privately-printed edition issued after the author’s death, is estimated at $1,000-1,500, as is another privately-printed account of a hunt in Alaska in 1930 by Harold Keith. As of Sunday afternoon, a book estimated at just $80-120 was leading the sale: Henry Job’s The Shadow of the Jaguar (1983), noted in the lot description as being a possibly unique copy, had been bid up to $3,200.


On Wednesday, August 15, Dominic Winter Auctioneers will sell Printed Books, Maps & Documents, in 335 lots. Very much a mixed bag here, with most lots estimated in the double or low-triple digits. Lots 148-165 comprise bookbinding tools and equipment, and lots 254-335 are “quantity” lots, where it looks like some good bargains might be lurking.



Addison & Sarova sells Rare Books & Ephemera on Saturday, August 18, in 422 lots. Some hefty shelf lots are expected to lead the way, including a 247-volume lot of theological works from the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries ($3,500-5,000). Among the single-lot items are a copy of the 1524 Aldine Odyssey ($1,200-1,800; pictured above).


Photo credit: Addison & Sarova

Best known for his novels like Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut also created visual art, mainly in the form of drawings and prints, as early as 1969. He made sculptures too, though they are “rare” on the market, according to Case Antiques, who sold this c. 1980 aluminum piece, titled “Wasp Waist,” at auction in Tennessee last month for $5,040. Signed and numbered 6/9, the aluminum silhouette is clearly reminiscent of his famous felt-tipped drawings.

WaspWaist 2.jpgAs Peter Reed wrote of ‘Vonnegut as artist’ in 1999: “His fiction struggles to cope with a world of tragi-comic disparities, a universe that defies causality, whose absurdity lends the fantastic equal plausibility with the mundane. Much the same outlook pervades the graphic artworks that have increasingly occupied Vonnegut in recent years.”

Image courtesy of Case Antiques

On Thursday, August 9, PBA Galleries holds a 613-lot sale comprising Fine & Rare Books (lots 1-184); Books in Early Jackets - The Bret Sharp Collection (lots 185-385); Art & Illustration, Children’s Books (lots 386-457); Asian & Asian-American Art & Illustration (lots 458-534); the final section (lots 535-613) are being sold without reserve.


Osvald Sirén’s four-volume work Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century (1925) is estimated at $10,000-15,000. An interesting copy of Leaves of Grass, believed to be an undated printing issued in 1896 with an unrecorded publisher’s dust jacket, could fetch $7,000-10,000. At the same estimate is an 1819 topographical and statistical account of Nuremberg, Neues Taschenbuch Von Nürnberg in original dust-jackets and cardboard slipcases.


A very rare copy of the “joint-stock novel” An Object of Pity, created by Robert Louis Stevenson, his family members, and visitors in Samoa in 1892 and privately printed at Sydney (but with a false Amsterdam imprint), is estimated at $5,000-8,000. This copy is from the Stevenson family library, and contains a list of the authors and notations by Stevenson’s stepson and collaborator Lloyd Osbourne. The bookplate is signed by Stevenson’s stepdaughter, Isobel Osbourne Strong. Also included is the response, Objects of Pity, written by Mr. Haggard, the British Land Commissioner and the “hero” of the original work.

birds.pngAn early printing of F. O. Morris’s A Natural History of the Nests and Eggs of British Birds, published in 1864 and featuring early plates by Arthur Rackham, very scarce in the printed jackets, could sell for $4,000-6,000 (pictured).


Also among the lots are a collection of printed invoices and receipts to bookbinder William J. Roy of Lancaster, Pennsylvania from around 1897-1908 ($300-500); a first edition of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring ($300-500).


Image credit: PBA Galleries

Late last week the UK’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis, announced a temporary export ban on a study table once owned by Charles Dickens. The round mahogany table with a revolving drum top covered in green leather was made around 1835 and was used by the famous author for most of his career, according to the Minister’s office, “first in his London home at Devonshire Terrace; then his offices on Wellington Street where he published Household Words and All the Year Round; and finally in his library at Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, Kent.” It remained in the possession of Sir Henry Fielding Dickens’ descendants until its recent sale at Christie’s London for £65,000 ($87,000). Presumably the winning bidder wished to ‘take it home,’ as it were, prompting Ellis to issue the export ban.

Dickens Table.jpgEllis commented in a press release, “As one of Britain’s most famous novelists, it is only right for there to be great expectations on us to protect Dickens’ study table for the benefit of the nation.”

A decision regarding the buyer’s export license has been deferred until October 26, giving UK institutions a chance to raise £67,600, the amount needed to keep the table in the country. Readers may recall a similar snafu with some Jane Austen jewelry years ago, which was resolved when an anonymous benefactor stepped forward with £100,000, thus keeping Austen’s turquoise and gold ring out of the hands of American singer Kelly Clarkson. (It is now in the collection of the Jane Austen House Museum.)

The pending sale of Dickens’ table also calls to mind several writers’ desks that have gone to auction in recent years--one of which was owned by Dickens and was “saved for the nation” with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. 

Image: Courtesy of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Not a particularly busy auction week, but much to look at if posters or comics are of interest!


On August 1, Swann Galleries sells Vintage Posters, in 608 lots. A group of four Art Nouveau decorative panels by Alphonse Mucha, representing the times of the day, rates the top estimate at $40,000-60,000. Leoneto Cappiello’s 1911 Carnaval poster (pictured) could fetch $20,000-30,000, while a 30 x 20-inch copy of the (now) iconic “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster from 1939 is estimated at $12,000-18,000.


carnaval.png Heritage Auctions holds a Comics, Comic Art & Animation Art Signature Sale in Dallas, August 2-4, with a whopping 4,675 items offered. Expected highlights include an original 1972 Frank Frazetta painting which was used for a 1974 reissue of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Escape on Venus (with a reserve of $500,000); a copy of The Incredible Hulk #1 (Marvel, 1962); and original cover art for Amazing Spider Man #55 (Marvel, 1967).


Image credit: Swann Galleries

At Bunch Auctions on Monday, July 23, Books & Works on Paper, in 269 lots. Top-estimated lots include an engraving of Marcantonio Raimondo’s “Massacre of the Innocents” from around 1515 ($5,000-7,000); some signed William Gibson volumes ($1,200-1,500); and a 1490 Augsberg edition of the sermons of Robertus Caracciolus ($800-1,000). A wide-ranging sale, with estimates mostly in the three-figure range.


On Tuesday, July 24, Doyle New York sells Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, in 344 lots (this is a timed, online-only sale). Highlights could include Richard (or Charles) Bowlker’s The Art of Angling Improved in All Its Parts ($700-1,000) and Eric Taverner’s Salmon Fishing (1931), estimated at $1,200-1,800. Lots 111-113 comprise three photograph albums of fishing trips taken by Zane Grey in the 1920s (each is estimated at $700-1,000).

Call Wild.jpg PBA Galleries sells Modern Literature on Thursday, July 26, in 563 lots. Seven lots share estimates of $3,000-5,000, including a first book printing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a first edition of The Call of the Wild in a very well-preserved dust-jacket, a full set of the 63-volume James Joyce Archive, and an inscribed first edition of Catch-22. Lots 440-563 are being sold without reserve.


Finally, on Saturday, July 28, Potter and Potter Auctions holds a Fine Books & Manuscripts sale, in 619 lots. A copy of the Peter Force facsimile engraving of the Declaration of Independence is estimated at $15,000-20,000, while a 1917 “Destroy This Mad Brute” World War I enlistment poster could fetch $12,000-18,000. Other lots include a collection of Hugh Hefner’s correspondence with a high school friend ($10,000-20,000); Emil Orlik’s Aus Japan ($10,000-15,000); and a 1958 Fidel Castro letter to arms smuggler Pedro Luis ($8,000-12,000).


Image courtesy of PBA Galleries

Ada_Lovelace_portrait.jpgA rare copy of Ada Lovelace’s groundbreaking first computer program turned up at a regional auction house, Moore Allen & Innocent, in Glouchestershire, England, today and sold for £95,000 ($125,000) after an intial estimate of £5,000-6,000 was increased to £40,000-60,000.


Bound in burgundy leather with tooled and gilded “Lovelace” on cover, this copy of Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babage Esq. by L F Menabrea of Turin Officer of The Military Engineers, with notes by the translator, who is identified in a handwritten note as Lady Lovelace, also contains extensive reading notes on Lovelace on the flyleaf, and a typed memo attributing the notes to physician William King, a friend and advisor of hers, who published a paper called The Cooperator. (Lovelace also married a different man named William King, strangely enough.)


Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke, was born on Dec. 10, 1815, in London, England, and was taught math by her mother. Her mother also surrounded her with the best education and tutors and introduced her to scientist Mary Somerville. It was that introduction that led Lovelace to know the work of Charles Babbage at 17, soon after she made her society debut. He showed her a large brass calculator and she became obsessed with it. 


Not long after she translated Menabrea’s academic paper on Babbage’s analytical engine, she added a section that extended the length of the paper by three times. This section is simply titled, “Notes.” In “Section G” she published her algorithm, a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the engine, which would have worked had it been built. Additionally she mused about the role of computers in society, described how they would be faster than humans at computations, and dismissed the concept of artificial intelligence, explaining, “the Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths.” 


Lovelace died of uterine cancer at age 36. There is disagreement about the importance of her contribution to science and math, and whether or not her contribution can indeed be considered the first computer program or simply an enhancement to Babbage’s work. Recently, she was finally given an obituary by the New York Times in its record-redressing “Overlooked” women of history special section, along with Sylvia Plath and other female luminaries.


Image via Wikimedia

Coming up next month at Swann Galleries is a selection of vintage posters -- political, circus, travel -- but the one that caught my eye is “Librairie Romantique,” pictured below.

Librairie Romantique.jpgDesigned by Eugene Grasset in 1887, the poster advertises a series of books on the history of romanticism. The blank space in the lower left would have held the table of contents for that particular volume. As Swann’s cataloguer notes, “The image itself is an homage to Gothic romance, featuring a young woman, clad in 1830s attire, sitting on a pile of old books, a skull at her feet, absorbed in her reading. In the background, the gothic façade of Notre Dame (perhaps a tribute to Victor Hugo) glows in the twilight.”

The poster’s estimate is $700-1,000.

Image courtesy of Swann Galleries

A calmer auction calendar this week, which will give us a chance to look back at some of the remarkable results from last week’s sales.


On Wednesday, July 18, Bonhams London sells Entertainment Memorabilia, in 299 lots. One of just two known copies of a Czech poster for the 1933 movie King Kong rates the top estimate, at £50,000-70,000. Other printed and manuscript items expected to do well are a poster for a November 2, 1964 Beatles concert at King’s Hall in Belfast (£25,000-28,000, pictured); and a birthday card to Pattie Boyd hand-drawn by John Lennon (£8,000-12,000). Lots 172-232 comprise the Mark Jay Collection of Punk Memorabilia, and lots 259-299 focus on the Beatles.



Skinner, Inc. sells Early English Books: A Single Owner Sale on Friday, July 20, in 198 lots. The Roderick Terry copy of the Shakespeare Fourth Folio (1685), in a Riviere binding, is estimated at $65,000-80,000. A 1556 English edition of More’s Utopia could fetch $40,000-60,000, while the first appearance of Galileo’s works in English is estimated at $35,000-50,000. An incomplete copy of the 1495 Wynken de Worde edition of Higden’s Polychronicon, the first at auction since 1976 according to the catalogue, could sell for $40,000-50,000. Anyone with an interest in early English printing will want to give this sale a close look.


Last week’s Sotheby’s sale realized £4,167,764, with the Darwin manuscript leaves and several E. H. Shepard drawings selling particularly well (the Origin leaf made £490,000, and the map of the Hundred Acre Wood sold for £430,000, a new auction record for a book illustration). Darwin and Shepard combined for the top nine lots of the sale, totaling more than £2 million. The copy of Spenser’s Faerie Queen with Charles I provenance sold for £106,250. Several lots sold by the descendants of Sir Charles Lyell also brought high prices: an album of scientific letters reached £93,750 over estimates of just £5,000-7,000, while a presentation copy of Lyell’s Principles of Geology to his father-in-law sold for £50,000 (est. £3,000-5,000). Lyell’s own well-worn copy of the first volume of Principles fetched £40,000 over estimates of just £700-1,000.


The Christie’s sale on Wednesday made a total of £6,200,375, with the Plantin Polyglot Bible leading the way at £488,750. The Fall of Princes manuscript sold for £392,750, and a 1482 Venice edition of Euclid fetched £284,750.


Image credit: Bonhams

Sometimes a book is as much about its provenance as the item itself. For example, this eighteenth-century encyclopedia of China, finely illustrated by the Osaka artist Tachibana Morikuni owes much of its interest to the fact that it came from the collection of James E. Fagan.

Fagan1.jpgFagan (1926-2011) was an American collector with a special interest in the introduction of Western culture and technology to Japan’s closed Edo-era society (1603-1868), also known as the Tokugawa period. He studied Japanese language and history at Stanford University, and served as a US Naval officer in the Pacific theatre. He then lived and worked in Japan as an attorney in the 1950s and 1960s.

During this time, Fagan assembled and researched his collection of rare Edo-era
woodblock and manuscript maps, prints and books not available outside Japan. Highlights include Nagasaki-e (showing the Japanese fascination with the Dutch East
Indies (VOC) outpost at Deshima island), early Rangaku examinations of Western
science and languages, the evolution of Japanese cartographic knowledge, and the
study of English and Russian military might and technology. Imaginative illustrations
and maps, from Japanese castaways reporting back to the Japanese Court, also provide a glimpse of how the Western world appeared to the first Japanese to circumnavigate the globe. The collection demonstrates Japan’s keen curiosity about the Western world during its long isolationist period, and the artful way the Japanese perspective captures the impact of European contact.

Morokoshi kinmo zui, illustrated by Tachibana Morikuni and published in Japan in 1719, is a good example of Fagan’s interests. It is an extensive encyclopedia on China, profusely illustrated with depictions of Chinese customs, astronomy, maps, landscapes, architecture, mythology, martial arts, weaponry, farming practices, flora & fauna. In fact, all that you would expect from an encyclopedia. In 15 volumes, it is printed from woodblocks, and comes with the original blue paper covers and title slips (under later yellow covers).

Fagan2.jpgTachibana Morikuni, from Osaka, was a leading eighteenth-century painter, illustrator, and writer, and he was a master of both Kano and Tosa styles. A student of
Tsuruzawa Tanzan, Morikuni lived and worked in Osaka. His major illustrated books
include Ehon Koji-dan (1714), Morokoshi Kimmo-zui (the work listed here)
(1719), Ehon shaho-bukuro (1720), Gaten tsuko (1727), Honcho gaen (1729), Utai
gashi (1732), Ehon oshukubai (1740) and Unpitsu soga (1749).

This work has recently been consigned to the Catawiki “Old & Rare” auction, and will be available for bids through approx. 8 p.m. (Central European Time) on Friday, July 13.

Images courtesy of Catawiki

Another round of major sales this week:


At Sotheby’s London on Monday and Tuesday, July 9-10, English Literature, History, Science, Children’s Books and Illustrations, in 322 lots. Highlights include an autograph leaf from Darwin’s Origin (£120,000-180,000) and a number of other Darwin manuscripts, several E. H. Shepard ink drawings, including the original map of the Hundred Acre Wood (£100,000-150,000), a copy of the 1916 proclamation of independence of the Irish Republic (£60,000-80,000), and Charles I’s copy of the Faerie Queen (£30,000-50,000).


Also on Tuesday at Sotheby’s London, Part VIII of The Library of an English Bibliophile, in 247 lots. Lewis Carroll’s annotated copy of the suppressed “sixtieth thousand” printing of Through the Looking Glass is estimated at £30,000-50,000. Two presentation copies of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, one to Darryl Zanuck (producer of the film adaptation) and one to Steinbeck’s sister, are each estimated at £20,000-30,000. A number of other important association and presentation copies are on offer in this sale.


Tuesday will also see the sale of Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures at Dreweatts in London. One reader already pointed our attention to the interesting lot 62 depicting a doctor and two amputees, illuminated manuscript on parchment, c. 1410. The estimate is £5,000-7,000.


On Tuesday and Wednesday at Forum Auctions, The Rothamsted Collection: Rarities from the Lawes Agricultural Library. The first 259 lots, to be sold on Tuesday, include a copy of the first printed book on agriculture, Petrus de Crescentiis’ Ruralia commoda (1471), estimated at £60,000-80,000. Leonard Digges’ A Prognostication everlastinge of righte good effecte (1576), containing the first translation into English of Copernicus’ work, could sell for £15,000-20,000. Lots to be sold on Wednesday include a great deal of material in the three-to-four-figure range, so if you’ve any interest in agricultural books, this catalogue will be worth a browse.


Polyglot copy.jpg 

Christie’s London sells Valuable Books and Manuscripts on Wednesday, July 11, in 393 lots. A copy of the Plantin Polyglot Bible, one of thirteen printed on vellum for King Philip II of Spain, rates the top estimate, at £400,000-600,000 (pictured). Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s Les Liliacées (1802-1816), the first of his major botanical works, could sell for £350,000-500,000. A mid-15th-century Middle English manuscript of John Lydgate’s The Fall of Princes once owned by Mary Sidney is estimated at £250,000-350,000. I could go on at great length about any number of the lots in this sale, but on we go ...


Returning to Forum Auctions for Thursday, July 12, they offer Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper, in 225 lots. A few of the expected highlights include a presentation copy of Charles Babbage’s The Influence of Signs in Mathematical Reasoning (1826), inscribed by Babbage to Thomas Stevenson Davies, secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society (£10,000-15,000); a blue-paper copy of the first Italian translation of Euclid’s Elements (Urbino, 1575), also estimated at £10,000-15,000; and a 1636 copy of Gerard’s Herball, with contemporary hand-coloring (£6,000-8,000).


Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries sells Fine Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography, in 703 lots. A 1779 edition of Great-Britain’s Coasting Pilot is estimated at $5,000-8,000, as is a copy of a 1792 two-volume work featuring the first French edition of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. A long letter describing the 1871 Chicago Fire could sell for $4,000-6,000. Lots 610-703 are being sold without reserve.


Finally, there will be two sales at Chiswick Auctions on Thursday: Autographs & Memorabilia, in 235 lots, and The Library of Giancarlo Beltrame Part III and other Fine Antiquarian Books, in 362 lots. The first sale includes a Horatio Nelson letter to William Hamilton, the English ambassador to Naples (£4,000-6,000), and a Joseph Banks letter concerning the importation of botanical specimens (£2,000-3,000). Highlights from the second sale are expected to include a copy of the 1859 first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát (£15,000-20,000), a set of David Copperfield in the original parts (£5,000-8,000), and the Roderick Terry copy of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard, bound by Riviere (£5,000-8,000).


Image credit: Christie’s

Enid Marx working on flower and shell designs c1946.jpg

Enid Marx working on flower and shell designs c. 1946. Courtesy of the House of Illustration.


I first came across Enid Marx’s work because of a fondness for the King Penguin titles, a series of pocket-sized books that was published by Penguin between 1939 and 1959 on a variety of subjects. Many of the titles have decorated jackets and endpapers, and one of the first that caught my eye was Marx’s cover for Some British Moths. Her designs for the King Penguins are on display amongst the designs for prints, books, London Transport posters, and fabrics in a career-spanning exhibition of her work, Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art, at London’s House of Illustration


Cover for Some British Moths, King Penguin © Estate of Enid Marx.jpg

Cover for Some British Moths, King Penguin © Estate of Enid Marx  


It turns out that Some British Moths was the first of five covers Marx designed for the series, after complaining to the series editor about the quality of the covers that preceded hers. Since moving to London, it’s more obvious to me what an impact Marx and her group of friends from The Royal College of Art (where she was not allowed to graduate for being too “modern”) including Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, and Barbara Hepworth had on British design. Her birds and flowers and striking geometric designs are still commonly referenced on pillows and home designs in big box stores, and her printed paper can be bought by the sheet for gift wrap. I can recognize a print inspired by Enid Marx now from a mile away.


Marx used traditional hand-carved woodblock techniques to print on paper and fabric, and volunteered to design textiles for the wartime Utility Furniture Scheme, creating joyful, affordable printed fabric for the home to those returning from war. And she was first ever female engraver to be awarded the title of Royal Designer for Industry.


Pattern - 'Municipal' patter paper for the Little Gallery, from wood engraving, c1930 © Estate of Enid Marx.jpg

‘Municipal’ pattern paper for the Little Gallery, from wood engraving, c. 1930 © Estate of Enid Marx.


But she still remains a rather obscure name, overshadowed in her afterlife by her contemporaries. The House of Illustrations retrospective presents a strong argument for her place in history, highlighting her impressive and meticulous contributions to design and presenting her design aesthetic as responsible for setting the tone for mid-20th-century design. 


Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art is on view at The House of Illustration until September 23.

Rare books and jewelry are a perfect pair, and a new, collaborative exhibition launched by UK rare book dealer Peter Harrington and jewelry designer Theo Fennell puts them together splendidly. The exhibition features rare first editions from Harrington’s stock, such as Goldfinger, The Secret Garden, The Arabian Nights, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and The Complete Pooh Series, alongside stunning, handcrafted rings and brooches. Here are a few examples:

Oz.pngA first edition of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by Frank L. Baum (£775) shown with the Emerald City Ring by Theo Fennell.

Fleming skulls.pngThis first edition of Goldfinger by Ian Fleming (1959) is the seventh book in the James Bond series (£2,000) and is shown with four 18ct yellow gold skull rings by Theo Fennell.
Milne.pngFirst editions of The Complete Pooh Series by A.A. Milne of all four Pooh books (1924-8) are shown with some pieces from the Bee Collection by Theo Fennell. Only 5,175 copies of the first book When We Were Very Young were published so the Series is rare (£3,750).

Fennell commented in a press release: “I have really enjoyed this collaboration with Peter Harrington as it has allowed me to indulge in one of my greatest passions and a source of endless inspiration, books. Harrington’s always have such an eclectic selection that it is one of my dream places to gather ideas. I believe that, as well as being original and beautifully made, jewellery should be thoughtful, sentimental and provocative.”

The exhibition is on until July 12 at Theo Fennell gallery, 169 Fulham Road, London.

Images courtesy of Theo Fennell

There may be just one major auction on the calendar for this week, but it’s quite a sale. Sotheby’s London offers Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental and Russian Books on Tuesday, July 3, in 188 lots.


The Breviary of Marie, Duchess of Bar (1344-1404), written and illuminated around 1360, rates the top estimate in the sale, at £500,000-700,000. Marie was the daughter of Bonne of Luxembourg and King John II of France and the sister of King Charles V of France and John, Duke of Berry (known for the Très Riches Heures). The breviary includes several full-page miniatures depicting Marie in prayer, and the Sotheby’s catalogue suggests that it was likely commissioned by her father in the years prior to her marriage. The manuscript previously sold at Sotheby’s in 1932 for £450.


A manuscript containing the first forty-four homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew, identified through paleographical analysis as being written in Constantinople in the late ninth century, could sell for £200,000-300,000, while a mid-thirteenth-century Paris Bible illuminated in the style of the Leber Group rates an estimate of £80,000-120,000. A ten-volume, uncut set of the work known in English as Complete Heraldry of the Noble Families of the Russian Empire, from the Year 1797, published at St. Petersburg from 1798 through 1840, is estimated at £50,000-70,000.


blockbook.pngMost the lots in this sale are worth noting, but just a few other examples will have to suffice: the 1491 Vicenza second edition of Euclid’s Elementa Geometriae could fetch £40,000-60,000, while a single leaf from a fifteenth-century block book printed in the Netherlands (pictured) is estimated at £15,000-20,000. A copy of the first translation of Seneca into Castilian (Seville, 1491), in a contemporary binding of blind-stamped half calf over wooden boards, is also rated at £15,000-20,000.


Image credit: Sotheby’s

Would Honest Abe approve? At Julien’s Auctions in Las Vegas on June 23, a selection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia was sold to benefit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, which has been in a tight spot since its 2007 purchase of the Barry and Louise Taper Collection of presidential relics. According to Smithsonian, to avoid selling the Lincoln artifacts, the foundation that runs the library approved the sale of some Monroe prints and objects also acquired in that 2007 purchase, including a terra cotta bust of poet Carl Sandburg once owned by Monroe (estimated at $20,000-30,000, but didn’t sell) and one of her little black dresses (estimated at $40,000-60,000, and sold for $50,000).

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 2.13.05 PM.pngDuring the same sale, Julien’s offered three Monroe-owned books, including E.M. Halliday’s The Ignorant Armies (1960) and A View of the Nation, An Anthology, 1955-1959 (1960), each of which realized $576. But a third book, Monroe’s prayer book for Jewish worship (pictured above), with the cover stamped “Marilyn Monroe Miller,” made $16,000.  

That last lot reminded me of a book offered at Doyle in 2017: her “somewhat worn” personal copy of The Form of Daily Prayers, According to the custom of the German and Polish Jews (1922). That one, however, estimated at $4,000-6,000, failed to sell.

Image courtesy of Julien’s

A new exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper, features the exquisite life-size trompe l’œil paper fashions of Belgian designer Isabelle de Borchgrave. The exhibition actually encompasses four distinct collections of hers: Papiers à la Mode (Paper in Fashion) looks at three hundred years of fashion history from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel; The World of Mariano Fortuny focuses on twentieth-century Venice; Splendor of the Medici accents ceremonial dress in the streets of Florence; and Les Ballets Russes pays tribute to Sergei Diaghilev and his ballet company. Pictured below are a few highlights. 

SL-3-2018-1-41_Cosimo-I-de-Medici_7905 copy.jpgPhoto: Andreas von Einsiedel; Isabelle de Borchgrave, Cosimo I de’ Medici, 2007, based on a portrait by Ludovico Cardi in the collection of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

SL-3-2018-1-45_Lorenzo-il-Magnifico_7895 copy.jpgPhoto: Andreas von Einsiedel; Isabelle de Borchgrave, Lorenzo il Magnifico, 2007, based on the painting Journey of the Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli in the Medici Chapel in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

SL-3-2018-1-52_Flora_7900 copy.jpgPhoto: Andreas von Einsiedel; Isabelle de Borchgrave, Flora, 2006, based on the ca. 1481-82 painting La Primavera by Sandro Botticelli in the collection of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo: Andreas von Einsiedel

You can also watch the artist at work here:

After quite a flurry of auctions last week, a quieter period this time round.


On Wednesday, June 27, Dorotheum in Vienna holds a sale of Books and Decorative Prints, in 497 lots. One major lot to keep an eye on in this one: a 1592 Plantin edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, with a starting price of €50,000.


Also on Wednesday, Libros Antiguos y Contemporáneos de la Colección de un Bibliófilo at Morton Subastas, in 260 lots. Rating the top estimate, $130,000-150,000, is Don Antonio Del Rio’s Description of the Ruins of an Ancient City Discovered Near Palenque (1822). Athanasis Kircher’s Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae (Rome, 1646) is estimated at $125,000-140,000. García de Orta’s Aromatum, et Simplicium Aliquot Medicamentorum apud Indos Nascentium Historia (Antwerp, 1574) could fetch $60,000-80,000, while a Limited Editions Club copy of Octavio Paz’s Sight and Touch is estimated at $50,000-60,000.

256092_0.jpgPBA Galleries sells Art & Illustration, with Asian & Asian-American Material on Thursday, June 28, in 364 lots. Sharing the highest estimate at $15,000-25,000 are Osvald Sirén’s four-volume treatise Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century (1925) and a sixteen-volume set of Toyo Bijutsu Taikwan (“The Collection of the Eastern Arts”), published in Tokyo in 1919 (pictured). Lots 263-321 comprise the Richard Harris Smith Collection of Asian-American Literature and Illustration, while lots 322-364 are being sold without reserve.


Image credit: PBA Galleries

Initially released to theaters last year, Pressing On: The Letterpress Film becomes available on DVD & VOD today. Pressing On is a feature-length documentary that begins with a simple question: “Why hasn’t letterpress died?”

PressingOn_DigitalPoster_ExclusiveSmall copy.jpgPressing On is artfully composed and includes some great interviews with ‘old-timers’ and the new generation of printers that is benefiting from their knowledge and putting it to work. It is reminiscent of the 2009 film Typeface, which focused its attention on the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (whose director, Jim Moran, is also interviewed in Pressing On). Pressing On is broader in scope -- spotlighting, for example, the Platen Press Museum in Zion, Illinois, and Nashville’s Hatch Show Print -- yet shares the sensibilities and sympathies of Typeface, and, well, letterpress lovers everywhere.

See for yourself by watching this trailer:

Pressing On: The Letterpress Film - Trailer #2 - Exclusive VOD from LetterpressFilm on Vimeo.

Image courtesy of Bayonet Media

very busy auction week coming up.


First, a quick survey of the five Aristophil sales this week: on Monday, June 18, Aguttes sells Beaux-arts, œuvres et correspondances, in 324 lots. Highlights are expected to include an illustrated Van Gogh letter (€250,000-300,000) and a second Van Gogh letter at the same estimated price, and Henri Matisse’s 1947 Jazz (€100,000-150,000). Tuesday sees two sales of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, at Drouot (96 lots) and Aguttes (116 lots). In the first, a collection of Paul Éluard’s letters to his first wife could sell for €300,000-400,000, and the manuscript for Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Maudits Soupirs pour une autre Fois (pictured below) is estimated at €250,000-300,000. At Aguttes, the top-estimated lot is a manuscript of Victor Segalen’s Stèles (€100,000-120,000).

celine.pngTwo music sales on Wednesday, June 20: Musique, de Jean-Sébastien Bach à Boulez at Ader (151 lots) and Musique, de Lully à Stravinsky at Aguttes (176 lots). At Ader, anticipated highlights include a manuscript fragment of a Bach cantata and a complete Beethoven signed manuscript (both estimated at €150,000-200,000). In the final sale of the week, a Mozart youth serenade manuscript could sell for €120,000-150,000.


Also on Tuesday, Lyon & Turnbull sells Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs, in 432 lots. Richard Bowdler Sharpe’s monograph on birds of paradise rates the top estimate, at £15,000-18,000. Quite a few other interesting lots of ornithology and natural history more broadly. 


On Wednesday at Bonhams London, Fine Books, Manuscripts, Atlases & Historical Photographs, in 296 lots. Henry Popple’s twenty-sheet engraved map of North America could fetch £30,000-50,000, a notebook containing drafts of several Edward Thomas poems is estimated at £30,000-40,000, and a particularly fine copy of the first impression of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone rates a £25,000-35,000 estimate.


Dominic Winter Auctioneers sells Printed Books, Maps & Documents on Wednesday, in 535 lots. Items to watch include Bloch’s Ichthyologie (the first six parts bound in three volumes), estimated at £15,000-20,000, and an album containing 216 Hogarth etchings and engravings (£5,000-7,000).


A third sale on Wednesday is University Archives’ auction of Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics, in 266 lots. As usual with these sales, a fascinating array of notable things, but a large archive from Disraeli’s secretary Algernon Turnor is estimated at $40,000-50,000, and a ledger containing records of mail sent and received from Fort Bridger in 1860-1861 could sell for $30,000-40,000.


On Thursday, Swann Galleries sells Revolutionary & Presidential Americana from the Collection of William Wheeler III, in 229 lots. This catalog is definitely worth a browse for anyone with an interest in the field. Potential top lots include a May 3, 1776 pay order to express rider Jonathan Park and a Thomas Jefferson letter as Secretary of State to the governor of Maryland relating to the Genét affair (both estimated at $20,000-30,000), and a February 26, 1780 letter from George Washington to Nathanael Greene ($15,000-25,000).


Finally, also on Thursday, Dominic Winter Auctioneers holds a Modern Literature & First Editions sale, in 366 lots. This sale includes a number of children’s, fine press, and illustrated books, as well as toys, games, and film posters. A first issue of Casino Royale is estimated at £10,000-15,000, and a near-complete run of Matrix could fetch £2,000-3,000.


Image credit: Drouot

At auction in New York earlier today, the Portland Audubon -- the double-elephant folio of Audubon’s Birds of America once owned by the dukes of Portland -- sold for $9.65 million.

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 1.31.19 PM.pngOne of only thirteen copies left in private hands, the Portland Audubon was last seen at auction in 2012, when it sold just shy of $8 million. Because of its vibrant illustrations and full morocco binding, it is considered “undoubtedly among the very finest” copies of Audubon’s masterpiece, according to Christie’s. The bidding today started at $6 million and proceeded cautiously to $8.3 million, selling with premium for a total of $9.65 million. Thus is does not break the record for Birds of America, still held by the Hesketh copy sold in December 2010 for the equivalent of $11.5 million.

-To read more about how the proceeds of this sale will be used:

-To read more about John James Audubon’s personal history:

-To read more about the birds featured within:

Image courtesy of Christie’s

A big week in the book-auction world, with a set of Birds of America on the block this Thursday.


At Bonhams New York on Tuesday, June 12, Fine Books and Manuscripts, in 287 lots. Top-estimated lots include an autograph manuscript of Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto” ($250,000-350,000); a c.1489 Basel edition of Aesop, the first printed in Switzerland ($60,000-80,000); a first edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum ($50,000-80,000); and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, extracted from the First Folio ($50,000-80,000). Audubon’s autograph manuscript of the description of the Crested Titmouse for his Ornithological Biography is estimated at $10,000-15,000.


PBA Galleries sells 205 lots of Rare Books & Manuscripts on Thursday, June 14. Among the expected highlights are a signed copy of the 1972 George Allen & Unwin edition of The Lord of the Rings ($8,000-12,000); the 1858 volume of The Zoologist containing the second printing of Darwin and Wallace’s first papers on natural selection ($8,000-12,000); and a complete set of Dickens’ Christmas Books, all first editions ($7,000-10,000).


Christie’s New York will sell The Portland Audubon on Thursday, June 14, at 2 p.m. This is a truly great copy of Birds of America, being sold by the Knobloch Family Foundation; it last sold at Christie’s on January 10, 2012, for $7,922,500. It is estimated at $8-12 million this time around. For the many Audubonophiles out there (myself included), this will be the one to watch this week. Following the Audubon set are 212 additional lots of Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana, and there are definitely some great lots in this part of the sale as well: a 1468 illuminated portolan atlas on vellum ($1.2-1.8 million), a first edition of Audubon’s Quadrupeds ($200,000-300,000), one of just six known proof copies on wove paper of the Stone facsimile of the Declaration of Independence ($200,000-300,000), and a Shakespeare Second Folio ($150,000-200,000). There’s also a copy of the first issue of MacWorld, signed by Jobs and Wozniak ($40,000-60,000).


Image credit: Christie’s

angel3.jpgWhen Barbara Slate was breaking new ground as a woman writing and illustrating comic books she wasn’t aware she should be saving the associated drafts and paperwork that went into creating her work. Then she met Center for Book Arts founder and distinguished book artist Richard Minsky, and he encouraged her to save everything. Now he is releasing a catalogue in preparation for the sale of the archive of her work, a project 30 years in the making that documents a crucial and often overlooked history in comic books -- the work of women artists in mainstream comics and the history of girl readership.

Minsky said of Slate’s relevance, “From her creation of Ms. Liz, the liberated woman character who first appeared on greeting cards in 1976, to her recent political cartoons on social media, Barbara Slate has been in the forefront of communicating strong role models to girls and women of all ages.”
Now, because of careful stewardship, Slate’s archive takes up 35 cubic feet of space, includes copies of her published comic books and work including scripts, layouts, editorial comments, drafts, revisions, original art, press clippings, ephemera, and digital materials. It also includes many unpublished works, screenplays, and commissioned projects, and even a pair of roller skates.
Before Slate’s groundbreaking Angel Love, a comic that ran in DC Comics from 1986-87, comics marketed for teen girls and women were focused on traditional values and aspirational lives like Betty and Veronica, which Slate also wrote and drew, and superheroes like Batgirl and Wonder Woman.
But Slate’s Angel Love was an unusual comic; it was, she explained, “full of drugs, sex, and rock and roll. When it came on the scene there was nothing like it that dealt with things going on for real in girls lives.” Unlike Betty and Veronica, Angel Love didn’t avoid sex, tragedy, abuse, difficult family relationships, divorce, or other challenges facing young women growing up. The series was the first by a mainstream comics publisher to tackle these topics, and, as a result, Slate’s work faced both condemnation and critical acclaim, and was labeled for mature readers without the Comics Code Authority Seal. One of the results of Angel Love was honest fan mail from teens telling her that it had made a difference in their lives, that she represented their lives, and that they’d found an honest storyteller in her, and therefore a friend -- this fan mail is a part of the archive.
Even a quick scroll through Minsky’s preview of Slate’s archive demonstrates what a significant piece of comics history Slate’s work represents, particularly since Slate worked both in alternative and mainstream comics. She drew traditional characters as well as girls and women who represented women that hadn’t been seen in comic books before -- a refreshing addition when so many women featured in comic books are a kind of dreamgirl stereotype and the representation of a male comic book artist’s fantasy. 
A limited edition of the Barbara Slate catalogue is available for pre-order. And those lucky enough to live in New York and want to learn how to make graphic novels can take her course at Cooper Union this June. 
Image courtesy of Barbara Slate

Readers of our summer issue were treated to a history of the Little Blue Books, written by Steven Cox, the curator of special collections and university archives at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in Pittsburg, Kansas. A full-length biography of the Little Blue Books’ complicated creator, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, was also published this spring. And now, in a bid to keep the momentum going into the series’ one hundredth anniversary in 2019, PSU has put out a call for papers for a two-day symposium called The Little Blue Books at 100: Haldeman-Julius’s Revolutionary Publishing Venture. It is scheduled for March 29-30, 2019.

Little Blue Books.jpgHaldeman-Julius, long a proponent of socialism and free thought, took over the nation’s largest socialist newspaper, The Appeal, in March 1919. Soon thereafter he began publishing inexpensive and immensely popular little books on a variety of topics.

As Cox explained in a recent email, “During the course of his career, which spanned over thirty years, Haldeman-Julius printed and sold an estimated 500,000,000+ Little Blue Books, with over 2,000 different titles..... Haldeman-Julius, with help from his wife Marcet, revolutionized, if not created, mass-market publishing, making his products affordable to all. He also pushed the boundaries of publishing norms by being one of the earliest publishers to publish sexual education information. He popularized the self-help/improvement book, and was among the earliest to decry racial segregation and was the first to publish African-American literature anthologies.” 

PSU invites proposals for individual papers (including undergraduate and graduate-level papers) that explore the phenomenon of the Little Blue Books, and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. These topics include, but are not limited to:

    •    Emanuel Haldeman-Julius
    •    Marcet Haldeman-Julius
    •    Haldeman-Julius’s Publishing and Marketing Measures
    •    The Socialist Press of Girard, Kansas
    •    Little Blue Books as Textbooks
    •    The Writers of the Little Blue Books
    •    Series found within the Little Blue Books
    •    The Legacy of the Little Blue Books
    •    Publishing Aspects of the Little Blue Books
    •    Little Blue Books as Literature
    •    Little Blue Books: Socialist Literature or Open-Minded/Free-Thinking Literature?
For more  information, visit:

Image courtesy of PSU

An upcoming auction in New York on June 5 has an incredible selection of original book cover art -- eleven by my count, an unusually large number to be offered at once, and a few superlative pieces to boot. Highlights include Russell Tandy’s watercolor and gouache on board for the beloved Nancy Drew title, The Secret in the Old Attic (1944), several Edward Gorey watercolor illustrations, and some neat pulp cover art, including one by “King of Paperbacks” James Avati.

Nancy.jpgRussell Tandy’s illustration, “The Secret in the Old Attic,” for the book of the same name by Carolyn Keene, published as Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #21 (1944). Estimate $15,000-25,000.

Gorey Origins.jpgEdward Gorey’s “Origins of the Medieval World,” watercolor and ink illustration study for the cover of the book of the same name by William Carroll Bark (1960). Estimate $2,500-3,000.

Gorey SNow copy.jpgAnother of Gorey’s watercolor and ink illustrations -- “The Masters,” for the cover of a book of the same name by C. P. Snow (1951). Estimate $2,500-3,500.

Avati c.jpgAccording to Swann, this is the “King of Paperback’s First Published Cover:” James Avati’s “A Southern White Girl gets the Shock of her Life,” an oil on board used for the cover illustration for The Other Room by Worth Tuttle Hedden (1949). Estimate $5,000-7,500.

Barr Sharp.jpgKen Barr’s gouache on board used as the cover illustration for The Sharpshooter #6: Muzzle Blast by Bruno Rossi (1974). Estimate $500-700.

Eastman 1 .jpgNorm Eastman’s oil on board, “See How they Run,” used for the cover of a Pocket Books publication in 1970. Estimate $400-600.

Peyton copy.jpgAnd another from Eastman: “A Nice Girl from Peyton Place,” gouache and tempera on board, used as the cover illustration for the book of the same name by Roger Fuller (1970). Estimate $400-600.

Tombstone copy.jpgMorton Engle’s oil on board, “The most dangerous man that ever rode into Tombstone,” used as the cover illustration for Powder Burn by Bradford Scott (1957). Estimate $800-1,200.

Summer copy.jpgDarrell Greene’s oil and gouache on board, “A Summer Place,” used as the cover illustration for the Cardinal Giant edition of the book by Sloan Wilson (1959). Estimate $2,000-3,000.

Gorey sketch.jpgEdward Gorey’s ink sketch for the cover illustration of Stendhal: On Love (1957). Estimate $1,200-1,800.

Gorey Goth copy.jpgAnd one more from Gorey: Pen, ink, and marker cover design with transparency overlays for Ladies of the Gothics: Tales of Romance and Terror By the Gentle Sex... (1975). Estimate $5,000-7,500.

Images courtesy of Swann Galleries

On Tuesday, May 29, Christie’s Paris sells Livres rare et manuscrits in 95 lots. An impressive set of the Description de l’Egypte (1809-[1830]) from the library of Jean-Marie Dubois-Aymé, a contributor to the work, is estimated at €300,000-500,000. Maxime Du Camp’s photographic book Égypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie (1852) could sell for €250,000-350,000, and a Debussy music manuscript rates a €120,000-180,000 estimate.


Bonhams London sells Wassenaar Zoo: A Dutch Private Library on Wednesday, May 30, in 234 lots. Expected highlights include John Gould’s Birds of Australia (£100,000-150,000) and his Mammals of Australia (£50,000-70,000), Edward Lear’s Illustrations of the Family of Psitticidae (£40,000-60,000), and Daniel Giraud Elliot’s A Monograph of the Phasanidae (£35,000-45,000). Watch a future issue of Fine Books & Collections for more on this sale.


Modern First Editions, Illustrated Books & Limited Editions are the order of the day at Chiswick Auctions on Wednesday, in 226 lots. A first edition of Hemingway’s In Our Time (1924) is estimated at £15,000-18,000, with a first edition, first printing of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901; pictured) rates the second-highest estimate, £12,000-15,000. Some interesting editions of classic fiction, &c. available in this sale.

peter.pngOn Thursday, May 31, PBA Galleries holds a sale of Americana with Manuscript Material, Travel & Exploration, and Cartography, in 438 lots. A copy on “superfine royal paper” of the first collected edition of The Federalist (New York, 1788) is estimated at $80,000-120,000, while an early copy of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn later owned by Sir Hugh Walpole could sell for $15,000-25,000.


Skinner begins an online sale of Fine Books & Manuscripts on May 31, which runs until June 8. The two lots with the highest starting bids ($25,000) are an 1858 oversized map of the Mississippi River, and the May 9, 1754 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, which featured the first appearance of Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon.


Image courtesy of Chiswick Auctions

Swann Galleries offers 19th & 20th Century Literature on Tuesday, May 15, in 310 lots. The top-estimated lot is a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems (Paris: Contact, 1923), printed in just 300 copies ($20,000-30,000). A set of three first printed editions of Emily Dickinson’s poems could sell for $10,000 to $15,000. A copy of the first printed edition of Anne Frank’s diary (Amsterdam, 1947) in the third-issue dust jacket is estimated at $7,000-10,000. Also included are unbound long galley proofs for Philip K. Dick’s VALIS ($4,000-6,000) and Charles Dickens’ Bleak House in original monthly parts ($2,000-3,000).


At Toovey’s in West Sussex on Tuesday, Antiquarian & Collectors’ Books, in 354 lots. Luigi Mayer’s folio volume with aquatint plates Views in the Ottoman Empire (London, 1803), rebound, is estimated at £1,000-1,500. Mathias Koops’ Historical Account of the Substances which Have Been Used to Describe Events, and to Convey Ideas from the earliest Date to the Invention of Paper (London, 1800), printed on straw paper, could sell for £300-500. A number of lots in this sale are from the collection at West Horsley Place, the historic house inherited by Bamber Gascoigne in 2014.


Rounding out the trio of Tuesday sales, Sotheby’s London offers Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History Including the Library of Colin and Joan Deacon, in 419 lots. A set of eleven works by John Gould, in forty-three volumes in near-uniform green morocco bindings, could sell for £700,000-900,000. A volume containing a complete set of the Indian Tracts of Bartholomé de las Casas, in contemporary limp vellum binding with manuscript annotations and ownership notes recording that the volume belonged to Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1539-1616), early historian of Peru, is estimated at £100,000-150,000. Fifteen albumen photographs of Mecca from the 1880s could fetch £80,000-120,000. A copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle rates a £25,000-35,000 estimate, and a copy of Audubon’s “Carolina Parrot” plate is estimated at £20,000-30,000.


Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 7.53.14 AM.pngOn Wednesday, May 16, Dominic Winter Auctioneers sells Printed Books, Maps & Documents, in 578 lots. Among the top-expected lots are John Speed’s 1676 A new and accurat map of the world (£5,000-8,000); a 1698 second edition of John Ogilby’s Britannia (£3,000-5,000); and James Bruce’s Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (£1,500-2,000). If your library needs a set of steps, there’s a Victorian gothic oak set available, from Exeter College, Oxford (pictured right; £300-500).


PBA Galleries offers a Spring Miscellany on Thursday, May 17, in 455 lots. The highest estimate, $6,000-9,000, goes to a copy of Jean Charlot’s Picture Book (1933), this is one of five special sets containing progressive proofs for the 32 lithographs. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because it was offered last month with a higher estimate.) Lots 199-380 are being sold without reserve and lots 381-455 are shelf lots, also sold without reserve. Many lots related to Merle Armitage, John Henry Nash, and the Grabhorn Press will go under the hammer.


Image via Dominic Winter Auctioneers

In 1870, the eccentric American transportation entrepreneur George Francis Train took a trip around the world in eighty travel days (with a two-month stopover in Paris), so when Jules Verne published his bestselling Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873, Train was quick to claim, “Verne stole my thunder. I’m Phileas Fogg.” Ever the competitor--and self-publicist--Train undertook a total of three trips around the world, each time attempting to beat the record. His final trip clocked in at sixty days.

JC_TrainPassport_18.jpgNo doubt he was a well-traveled man, and here’s one of his passports to prove it. Train’s 1857 passport is one of many such documents that went on exhibit last month in Passports: Lives in Transit at Harvard’s Houghton Library. Issued to Train by the American Delegation in Great Britain, but written in French, which was at the time the language of international relations, this passport records his jaunts to Tuscany, Florence, and the Papal States. (This was long before he ran for president, published an obscene newsletter, or bankrolled Susan B. Anthony.)  

JC_TrainPassport_06.jpgCurated by Lucas Mertehikian and Rodrigo Del Rio, the exhibition also follows the paper trails of other nineteenth- and twentieth-century travelers, émigrés, and refugees like Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, physicist Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, and author/activist Shirley Graham Du Bois, and calls attention to larger geopolitical issues.  

“I realized the weight of what we were doing when we first opened George Train’s passport,” commented Del Rio. “This 19th-century American businessman claimed to be the inspiration for Around the World in Eighty Days. He basically could travel anywhere he wanted. Differently from the case of Leon Trotsky, who was continuously fleeing, or W.E.B. and Shirley Du Bois, who renounced their American citizenship due to pressure from the government, finally finding home in their ancestral Africa. Freedom of movement was thus unevenly distributed. The cosmopolitan desire of making the whole world your home was a dream only some people could have.”

The exhibition remains on view through August 18.

Images: Houghton Library, MS Am 2763 (12). Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Tomorrow the Philadelphia Museum of Art opens its new exhibition, Biting Wit and Brazen Folly: British Satirical Prints, 1780s-1830s. Sixty prints showcasing the brilliance of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century graphic satire, especially the work of George Cruikshank, James Gillray, William Heath, and Thomas Rowlandson, will be on display. Organized thematically, the exhibition considers how these caricaturists portrayed the art and fashion of their day. Of particular interest to me is the section devoted to prints of medical subjects, including, for example, Thomas Rowlandson’s The Hypochondriac (1788), a dark depiction of mental illness. According to the exhibition’s description online, “The preoccupation with disease was an inevitable subject for artists, as illness was prevalent in a modernizing London where medical procedures were still primitive and people were understandably skeptical of the state of knowledge and skill of medical practitioners.” Here are three examples that catch the eye and send a chill up the spine:

Rowlandson.jpgThe Amputation, 1785, by Thomas Rowlandson. Hand-colored etching and aquatint, published in London, England. Purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the SmithKline Beckman (later the SmithKline Beechman) Corporation Fund, 1982.

Heath.jpgA Little Rheum-Atick, 1828, by William Heath. Hand-colored etching, published by Thomas McLean, on 26 Haymarket Street, London, England. Purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the SmithKline Beckman (later SmithKline Beecham) Fund for the Ars Medica Collection, 1968.

Gout GIllray.jpgThe Gout, 1799, by James Gillray. Hand-colored etching (soft-ground), published by H. Humphrey, 27 St. James’s Street, London. Purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1949.

The exhibition will be on view through August 22.

Next month, PBS will premiere an eight-part television series that asks, “What is America’s favorite book?” Hosted by Meredith Vieira, The Great American Read puts the focus on fiction and intends to “to get the country reading and passionately talking about books.” Episodes will feature authors, celebrities, and notable American book lovers. The idea is to “book club” the novels on the list with its viewers and then to get everyone to vote for their favorite via social media throughout the summer until the series finale, which will air in October.   

Great America.jpgIn preparation for the debut, PBS has posted its list of “100 most-loved books.” This list was created using the public opinion polling service YouGov, “to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel.” About 7,200 responded, and the list was then winnowed according to criteria (e.g., each author was limited to one title, the book had to be published in English, etc.) set forth by an advisory panel of thirteen literary professionals. The result is an eclectic list -- a mixture of usual suspects like The Catcher in the Rye, Little Women, and The Great Gatsby, plus some high school curriculum classics like The Grapes of Wrath and Things Fall Apart, and then there are contemporary selections like Stephen King’s The Stand and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. By my count, 33 were written by women.

The two-hour premiere debuts on May 22. Until then, get reading! And check out the trailer here.

Image via PBS

If you have an inkling that you might want to pursue a career in the antiquarian book trade, and you haven’t yet heard of or checked out the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, stop what you are doing and get thee to the CABS website!

Now in its forty-first year, CABS provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience with prospective booksellers, librarians, and collectors in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market. This year’s seminar will be held July 15-21 at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs. And there are many full scholarships available -- two for applicants from underrepresented groups that we’d like to draw attention to:

Both the Belle da Costa Greene Scholarship and the David Ruggles Scholarship, funded by collector and CABS faculty member Lisa Unger Baskin, provides to the successful candidate $2,000 to cover the cost of tuition, room and board ($1,646) with an additional $354 intended for travel or incidental expenses. According to the CABS website, these scholarships are “intended for a bookseller or a librarian from an historically underrepresented community. We encourage applications from booksellers and librarians from the African American, Latino/a/x, Asian American/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, working class, persons with disabilities, or other self-identified communities of booksellers or librarians who might benefit from this scholarship.”

Don’t delay: the deadline for these two scholarship applications is Friday, April 27.

We at Fine Books are big fans of CABS. To read more, see bookseller and CABS instructor Brian Cassidy’s 2009 post and his 2012 follow-up; see also bookseller Megan Bell’s 2014 essay about her experience, “My Week At Bookseller Hogwarts.”

On Monday, April 23, Australian Book Auctions sells Books and Documents, in 182 lots. The catalog is available as a PDF file. Three issues of the London Chronicle from March 1789, containing the first printed account of the settlement at Sydney (Lot 3), are estimated at AU$8,000-12,000, while Watkin Tench’s 1793 Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in original boards (Lot 5) could sell for AU$10,000-15,000. 


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Doyle New York hosts a sale of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on Wednesday, April 25, in 604 lots. See Rebecca’s post from last week about the items from the estate of Dr. Leo Hershkowitz coming up in this sale. Other lots include a first edition of The House at Pooh Corner signed by both Milne and Shepard and including an original Shepard drawing ($40,000-60,000) and a number of items from the estate of Arnold “Jake” Johnson.


At Swann Galleries on Thursday, April 26, Fine Illustrated Books & Graphics, in 278 lots. Copy No. 103 of Das Werk von Gustav Klimt (1918), the artist’s only monograph published during his lifetime, could fetch $25,000-35,000. Fernard Léger’s 1950 portfolio Cirque is estimated at $20,000-30,000. Among the other notable lots are a 1974 “Doubtful Guest” doll, one of an edition of fifty numbered copies signed by Edward Gorey ($4,000-6,000; pictured above), a copy of the Kelmscott Press Defense of Guenevere ($2,500-3,500), and a three-volume facsimile of the Book of Kells ($600-900).


On Saturday, April 28, Potter and Potter holds their Spring Magic Auction, in 705 lots. The lot to watch here is a two-volume scrapbook related to spiritualism and “spirit debunking,” kept and annotated by Harry Houdini and later owned and added to by Joseph Dunninger, a magician and friend of Houdini’s. The auction house has placed an estimate of $30,000-40,000 on the scrapbooks. A second lot of much interest to the Houdini collector is an extensive archive of material collected by Elliot Sanford, Houdini’s secretary and assistant ($10,000-15,000). Ed Marlo’s archive of magic trick manuscripts could sell for $5,000-8,000. Potter and Potter’s catalogs always make for interesting browsing, so do have a look through this one.


Image credit: Swann Galleries

Coming to auction next week is a small collection of New York City books, maps, and ephemera that belonged to Dr. Leo Hershkowitz, a professor, urban archaeologist, and inveterate collector. Hershkowitz, who died last year at the age of 92, was well known as an “archival scavenger,” as likely to be found sifting through hampers full of deaccessioned documents or digging up artifacts in construction sites. As the New York Times wrote in his obituary, “From bundles of papers earmarked for disposal by the city comptroller’s office, he saved coroner’s records from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that recorded infanticides, suicides, drownings -- and the killing of Alexander Hamilton by Aaron Burr in a duel across the Hudson in Weehawken, N.J.”

Just over thirty lots from his estate head to auction at Doyle on April 25 -- most of Hershkowitz’s collections were donated to institutions before his death, namely the N-YHS, the American Jewish Archives, and NYU’s Tamiment Library. He also sold material at auction; what is on offer next week is “what remains of a very quality and scholarly New York collection,” said Doyle’s executive director of books, autographs, and photographs, Peter Costanzo. “He would stumble upon something New York and he would buy it.”

Ratzer.jpgThe famous Bernard Ratzer map of New York is one such item, the choicest of the lots. It is the 1776 edition, reissued just as the Revolutionary War was getting underway and maps were in great demand. Today it is seen infrequently at auction, thus the estimate of $80,000-100,000. This was not one of his dumpster finds, Costanzo pointed out. Hershkowitz bought it at auction decades ago and cherished it. “It was just the one thing he wouldn’t part with throughout his life,” he said.

Eddy.jpgAnother favorite is the first edition of Thomas Eddy’s Account of the State Prison, or Penitentiary House, in N.Y. City, 1801, with two folding engraved plates, and two folding letterpress tables. The estimate is $600-900. This book is rare and very desirable to Greenwich Village collectors, said Costanzo. Only one copy can be traced at auction in the last twenty years.

DT.jpgA rare, chronologically complete run of D.T. Valentine’s Manual of the Common Council of New York, 1841-1870 is notable for its “wealth of maps, plates and information about the growing city during the 19th-century.” The estimate is $1,500-2,500.

Picture Book.jpgA first edition of The Picture of New-York; or the Traveller’s Guide through the Commercial Metropolis of the United States, 1807, with a map engraved by Peter Maverick shows contemporary hand-coloring. According to the catalogue, “Mitchill’s Picture of New-York is the first New York City guide book of its kind and was the inspiration for Irving’s Knickerbocker’s A History of New York (1809).” Interestingly, said Costanzo, the map is an update of the 1803 Mangin-Goerck map, and it used “fanciful projection” to show the city not as it actually was, but as it might be one day, perhaps to lure tourists. The estimate is $600-900.

Images courtesy of Doyle NY

Three auctions I’ll be watching this week, all on Thursday, April 19:


At Swann Galleries, The Knowing Eye: Photographs & Photobooks, in 332 lots. An inscribed Ansel Adams photo, “Winter in Yosemite,” and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “Premier at La Scala, Milan, Italy” share the top estimate at $40,000-60,000. A poignant group of five Dorothea Lange photographs of displaced Japanese-Americans could fetch $30,000-45,000. Good selections of works by Edward S. Curtis, Walker Evans, Eadweard Muybridge will also be sold, as well as a collection of more than 1,500 NASA photographs ($9,000-12,000).


Livres Anciens & Manuscrits at Aguttes in Neuilly-sur-Seine, in 276 lots. A set of 18th- and 19th-century manuscript maps and plans relating to the Château de Bois is estimated at €20,000-25,000, while a second lot of documents about the castle rates a €10,000-15,000 estimate in its own right. A François Masson du Parc manuscript relating to seabirds (pictured below), dated 1721, could sell for €12,000-15,000. Also included are a group of six Charles Dickens letters to his friend and publisher Francis Dalziel Finlay (€4,000-5,000), several Paul Verlaine manuscripts, and a wide range of other material.


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At PBA Galleries, another wide-ranging sale, in 350 lots: Illustrated & Children’s Books, Art, and Photography (Lots 1-201), Fine Press Books (Lots 202-277), Books about Books (Lots 278-324, with 295-324 sold without reserve), and twenty-five lots at the end sold without reserve. An original E. H. Shepard drawing of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, dated 1932, is expected to lead the way at $40,000-60,000. One of five special sets of Jean Charlot’s Picture Book, containing progressive proofs for the 32 lithographs, is estimated at $10,000-15,000. A composite binding made in 1999 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Religious Tract Society, created over fifteen volumes to make a scene from Blake’s “Good and Evil Angels,” is estimated at $1,500-2,500. Grabhorn Press collectors may want to keep an eye on this one, too.


Image credit: Aguttes

On Tuesday, April 10, University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Photos, Books & Relics, in 254 lots. A 1726 Mohawk land deed signed by Hendrick Theyanoguin and eight additional Mohawk leaders is estimated at $25,000-30,000, as is a signed copy of Thomas Jefferson’s 1821 letter to Dr. Samuel Brown at Transylvania University in which Jefferson argues against recent tariffs placed on imported books. A July 1861 letter from General Robert Anderson immediately following the first Battle of Bull Run could fetch $10,000-12,000. The letterbook of Revolutionary War commissary Minne Voorhees is estimated at $12,000-14,000. Also up for grabs is a piece of a mahogany bed presented to John Quincy Adams during his service as minister to England ($1,000-1,200) and a data recorder from NASA’s Apollo program ($500-600).




Dominic Winter sells Printed Books, Maps & Documents on Wednesday, April 11, in 586 lots. Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity (London, 1769; pictured), is estimated at £5,000-8,000, while a copy of the c.1690 second edition of John Seller’s pocket celestial atlas could sell for £4,000-6,000. The sale includes a selection of bookbinding equipment, tools, and reference books (lots 421-450), and lots 500-586 are group lots, some of which have a great deal of potential.


Thursday, April 12 sees two sales: Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Galleries, in 323 lots, and Rare Golf Books & Memorabilia From the Collection of John Burns and the Library of Ron Muszalski, with additions at PBA Galleries, in 431 lots. Top lots at Swann could include the copy of Paine’s American Crisis (highlighted in a previous post), a copy of the Nauvoo Neighbor Extra broadside of June 30, 1844 which contains the first official account of the killing of Joseph Smith, and a 1566 Mexican imprint (all three estimated at $50,000-75,000). A volume of business records from a Mexican silver mine covering the years 1576-77 could sell for $25,000-35,000, while a copy of the unauthorized second edition of the “Reynolds Pamphlet” rates a $10,000-15,000 estimate.


At PBA Galleries, the signed, limited first edition of Down the Fairway: The Golf Life and Play of Robert T. Jones, Jr. is expected to lead the way, at $10,000-15,000. A number of other lots will be of much interest to the Bobby Jones collector. A copy of the 1566 issue of the acts of the Scottish parliament which contains the first mention of golf in print (in a 1457 law to discourage it) is estimated at $1,500-2,000.


Photo credit: Dominic Winter Auctioneers

In 1932 the famed art historian Kenneth Clark, the director of the National Gallery in London, and his wife Jane Clark, commissioned Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant to produce a 148-plate dinner service for his personal household. They were not specific about what the theme or subject the plates should be, and Bell and Grant decided together upon representing famous women through the ages from England and from across the globe, with both London stage actresses Ellen Terry and Sarah Siddons, to more farflung historical women like the Queen of Sheba and Sappho. Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell’s portraits are included in the plates, as was one man (lucky fellow) artist Duncan Grant. The artists traveled to Stoke-on-Trent and toured pottery factories, selecitng Wedgwood creamware blanks that have a homespun quality resembling the plain arts-and-crafts styling of the Omega Workshop artists.


Plates.jpgThe plates were a part of the private estate of the Clarks, and then were inherited by Clark’s second wife, who then left them to her daughter, who years later sold them at an auction in Hamburg. The auction house closed and records weren’t available, and the plates disappeared from view. The plates were known for decades only from a photograph of the Clark’s dinner table. 


Through a lucky series of events involving the clearance and sale of a flat in London, the plates were discovered again by Dr. Robert Thomas, the founder of Piano Nobile, who only saw a glance of a few and didn’t at first realize what he was looking at. It was only later when a purchaser of the flat and its contents decided to sell the plates that Thomas realized what he had first spied. 


The bold and provocative feminist aspect of the plates, and the fact that it precedes Judith Chicago’s similarly themed dinner service, “The Dinner Party,” has only just become recent news. Matthew Travers, a director at London’s Piano Nobile gallery, told Artnet, “All of the women they depicted did something interesting and powerful, and often were quite scandalous--the Bloomsburys might have said ‘liberated’--in the way they lived their private lives, and often did not conform to the patriarchies they were living in.”


“This is the holy grail of Bloomsbury ceramics because it was lost for a generation,” said Thomas, who acquired them and is hoping the plates will go to Charleston, the estate of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Until that happens, they are on view through April 28. 


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Speaking of which, this watercolor plate design (above) for Bell’s Charlotte Brontë plate, 1932, sold last year at Forum Auctions for £8,125 ($10,480).


Images: (Top) Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, The Famous Women Dinner Service, 1932-34. Courtesy of Piano Nobile; (Bottom) Courtesy of Forum Auctions.

Three auctions I’ll be watching this week:


At Dorotheum in Vienna on April 4, a sale of Antique Scientific Instruments, Globes and Cameras, in 636 lots. A c.1500 sundial known as a “navicula de Venetiis,” or “little ship of Venice,” and a c.1400 brass astrolabe quadrant rate the joint top opening price, at €10,000. An armillary sphere from around 1840, identified as probably the work of Charles Dien in Paris, starts at €2,400. Among the globes, a celestial example from Vienna, c.1845, has an opening price of €1,500.


The following day, PBA Galleries holds a sale of Fine & Rare Books, in 459 lots. At $5,000-8,000, the top-estimated lot is Coleridge’s Christabel, Kubla Khan, The Pains of Sleep (London: John Murray, 1816). A copy of the 1534 Aldine Tacitus could fetch $3,000-5,000. An elaborately-bound copy of William Blake’s (not that William Blake) 1670 charity publication The Ladies Charity School-house Roll of Highgate is estimated at $1,500-2,000. For the printing historian, there’s a copy of the 1650 publication arguing that Johann Mentelin should be credited as the developer of printing rather than Gutenberg ($1,000-1,500). Lots 355 to 459 are being sold without reserve.




Finally, on April 7, Potter & Potter sells Entertainment Memorabilia, in 856 lots. An unrestored poster for Casablanca (1942; pictured) opens at $20,000 and is estimated at $40,000-60,000. Also on the block are Greta Garbo’s monogrammed mink coat ($9,000-12,000), Cole Porter’s backgammon set ($4,000-8,000). A few books are include, among them a copy of the Southern Treasury of Life and Literature inscribed by Margaret Mitchell to producer David Selznick $3,500-4,500).


Image courtesy of Potter & Potter

Only four copies of the first edition of Thomas Paine’s morale-boosting pamphlet, The American Crisis (“These are the times which try men’s souls...”) were known to survive, but a fifth has come to light and heads to auction in New York on April 12, estimated to reach $75,000.

Where did this Revolutionary War-era rarity turn up? In a garage in Mount Pleasant, Utah.

Am Crisis.jpgIn the summer of 2015, Lynn and Joan Varah decided to tackle some old boxes that had been taking up space in their garage for years. One box contained “hundreds of aging letters and documents,” according to a local news report. So they called in a friend, David Foster, who has some expertise with documents and genealogy. With a bit of online research, Foster soon realized what they had, and they decided to sell it and split the profits.

744346_view_03.jpgPublished in December 1776, this copy of The American Crisis was first owned by postmaster and tavern owner Thomas Wallin (1754-1835) of New Jersey. According to Swann Galleries’ cataloguing, it then passed to his granddaughter Margaret Wallin Ivins McKean, a Mormon convert who moved from New Jersey to Salt Lake City sometime before her death in 1886. From there, the next known owner was Donald Drake, who had acquired a box of McKean family papers before he moved to Mount Pleasant, Utah, in 1976. Drake apparently left the papers in the corner of a garage on his sister’s property. When he died in 1991, the papers were inherited by his wife, who may not have known of their existence, and upon her death in 2015, they became the property of her sister, Joan Varah, and her husband Lynn.  

Some staining and soiling betrays the book’s long journey. As Rick Stattler of Swann Galleries told, “It looks like it was carried on a wagon train out west -- which, apparently it was ... That’s probably the most interesting thing about it. It was carried across the country and I think that’s just a very compelling artifact.”

This first state copy contains parts I and II (lacking the third) and is bound in waste-paper wrappers made from an 1831 advertising broadside selling books. A first state copy of The American Crisis was last seen at auction in 1955. Swann sold a second (but complete) edition in 2014 for $125,000.

As the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places, I can’t help but be thrilled by a discovery of this magnitude. As David Foster put it to, “Who knows what’s in anybody’s garage, right?”

Images courtesy of Swann Galleries

Sure, we all know Hay-on-Wye, but how many other book towns can you name? How about forty-four more? In his new book, Book Towns: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word, author Alex Johnson outlines the world’s biblio-havens, from Hobart, New York, to Featherston, New Zealand, to Borrby, Sweden. This copiously illustrated guidebook offers travel tips and insightful details about each location -- taken as an itinerary, it could make for one heck of a biblio-tour!  

9780711238930 Book_Towns copy.jpgJohnson, also the author of Bookshelf, Improbable Libraries, and another new book, A Book of Book Lists, chatted with me about Book Towns and some of his favorite literary spots around the globe.    

RRB: How did the idea for this book come about? Are you an avid ‘literary tourist’?

AJ: I’ve written several ‘books about books’ and each time I did the research, I kept coming across more and more book towns around the world that were doing really rather well. But nobody had written anything substantial pulling the various parts of the movement together, other than an occasional article online. So basically I wrote the book about them that I wanted to read, which I realize is a bit selfish.

Yes, I’m afraid my sons would confirm that our holidays tend to be a bit book-dominated. That’s partly my upbringing. My father was an English teacher and librarian, and my mother ran a mobile bookshop, so wherever we went on holiday we spent about half of it in secondhand bookshops and always came home with our titchy car crammed with new purchases. I still make a point today of looking up where the nearest good bookstores are once we’ve booked wherever we’re going (though I do it quietly when nobody is looking to avoid my family’s hurtful scorn). There’s also an element of literary pilgrimage too to our vacations, so, for example, when I dropped my son off at an activity camp near Dorchester recently, I made an immediate beeline for the cottage where Thomas Hardy grew up and then the house in which he lived in later life. I think a lot of people are like this though. Well, I hope so.

RRB: How many of these book towns have you been to? Where to next?

AJ: I’ve been to the ones in the UK and a couple in Spain where my in-laws live. They’re remarkable places, spots in the world which give you a bit of hope for the future of civilization after all the terrible stuff in the news grinds you down. The people who have set them up and kept them going are so impressive - none of them have massive funding and they all rely hugely on volunteers. I’d like to go to a lot more but I’ve still got young children to look after so it’ll have to wait until they’re off the payroll and I can escape. I think the likeliest next one will be Hobart -- we’ve got various friends living in that part of the world that we’re planning to visit in the very near future. Obviously, I’ve not told my kids the real reason for going. I have to say that I’m not short of invitations to visit these book towns -- without exception, everybody I spoke to about what they were doing was extremely friendly and insisted that I come to see them, and indeed stay in their houses. That’s quite something to offer a stranger from a different landmass who’s interrupted their day with some idiotic questions.

RRB: Which is your favorite -- or, if that’s impossible to answer, perhaps your top three?

AJ: I’d really like to visit Fjaerland in Norway. The photos of it look absolutely spectacular and one of my best friends who went recently said it was amazing. It was also the book town which really gave birth to the book as it was the one I used to convince the publishers that it would be a subject worth going into in depth. It’s a bit of a cheat, but it would be very pleasant indeed to do a slow mini-tour of all the French ones and compare how different each one’s take is on the concept. And finally, Paju in South Korea. It’s not the typical book town which is usually very rural and beautiful, but there’s something magnetic about a town which is 100% devoted to the production of books.

RRB: I particularly enjoyed reading about Bellprat, Spain, and its Sant Jordi celebration. Tell our readers about it.

AJ: Sant Jordi is marvellous. My father-in-law lives in Catalonia so I’ve been privileged to see plenty of regional celebrations (I nearly broke my glasses taking part in a human pyramid a few years ago), but this is certainly one of my favourites. Every World Book Day on April 23, couples exchange gifts, or more precisely, books (historically it’s a book for the men and a rose for the women, but now it’s books all round really). It’s like a literary Valentine’s Day with bookstalls everywhere, in tiny villages as well as Barcelona, and a lot of literary events are held. A huge number of books, well over a million, are sold in the days running up to it. Booksellers in other countries would do well to copy it! It doesn’t surprise me that Catalonia is home to perhaps the most up and coming book town organization. Within a few years, I think there will be lots more dotted around the region.

RRB: Another surprise was Wunsdorf, Germany, the former headquarters of the German Armed Forces, now dubbed the ‘book and bunker’ town. It sounds intriguing!  Have you visited?

AJ: Sadly not, but my German mother-in-law was amazed to see it in the book when she was reading it because while it has a remarkable military history, it gets very little coverage. That somewhere which was the centre of the Nazi war machine, and then became a virtual enclave of Russia after the second world war could just disintegrate into near oblivion and then be reborn as a book town feels like a plot for a novel that nobody would believe. My eldest son is very keen on German so perhaps I should suggest we all go there for a holiday...

Image courtesy of Quarto

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Mark Dion. The Library for the Birds of London (detail) 2018. Mixed media; steel, wood, books, zebra finches, and found objects. Installation view of Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World at Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire


At Mark Dion’s new exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (through May 13) visitors can step inside The Library for the Birds of London, a giant birdcage, library of sorts, and aviary -- a temporary home to 22 zebra finches as well as 600 books devoted to ornithology, environmentalism, literature, and the natural sciences. It is a thought-provoking and joyful bombardment of birds and historically important books about birds that challenges viewers to engage with the social finches (their chirps are projected with help of microphones suspended from the cage).


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Mark Dion. Hunting Blind (The Librarian) 2008. Mixed media, 522x180x180cm. Installation view of Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World at Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire


Although the books aren’t rare themselves, the overall effect is to create a discussion about the role and history of the naturalist, scientist, and explorer as communicator and processor of nature. Dion’s artwork is usually comprised of often large-scale installations that play with our cultural ideas of the natural world and how we attempt to make order of it in personal and institutional collections. In this latest exhibition, a retrospective of installations since 2000, Dion continues to plumb his obsession with cabinets of curiosities, natural specimens, and the books about them and how nature is organized, managed, controlled, and exploited by humans. 


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Mark Dion. The Library for the Birds of London (detail) 2018. Mixed media; steel, wood, books, zebra finches, and found objects. Installation view of Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World at Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire


The majority of the installations are oozing with books; there are books in an installation set up like a naturalist’s study, as well as a hunting blind raised off the floor that serves as a library. Each installation provokes and pokes fun at our attempt to understand and classify our natural world. Dion’s work both brings nature closer to us, and to our attempts to understand what nature is -- the pursuit of knowledge can simultaneously honor and harm our environment, the desire for understanding can be beautiful and enriching, and it can also be disturbing. There are many ways to interpret Dion’s newest work, but for the book-and-bird obsessed, it may approach the ecstatic experience of spotting a rare species in the wild.

Five auctions to watch this week, leading off with a Wednesday, March 21 sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams London. The 408 lots include items from the collections of Charles Benson, Esq. (lots 45-65), Capt. J.D.G. Fortescue (lots 110-154), art dealer Kenneth John Hewett (lots 155-202), and Frieda Hughes (lots 301-408), as well as a private collection of ferns, seaweeds, and mosses (lots 218-249). Sylvia Plath’s own copy of The Bell Jar is estimated at £60,000-80,000, and her Hermes 3000 typewriter could sell for £40,000-60,000. An 1871 Charles Darwin letter to his son George is estimated at £30,000-40,000.


On Thursday, March 22, Swann Galleries sells Autographs, in 260 lots. Leading the way are a 1778 George Washington letter to Gen. James Clinton (estimated at $25,000-35,000), a secretarial manuscript of Walt Whitman’s last poem with the poet’s corrections and signature ($20,000-30,000), and a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Gen. Nathanael Greene written in February 1781 ($15,000-25,000).


Quite a mix at PBA Galleries on March 22, with a sale of Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography, in 435 lots. A rare Mormon pamphlet, The Voice of Truth (1844), containing the last sermon delivered by Joseph Smith, is estimated at $30,000-50,000, while two early letters by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could fetch $20,000-30,000. Lots 377-435 are being sold without reserve, so bargains may well be a possibility.




Also on Thursday, Forum Auctions sells Fine Books and Works on Paper, in 601 lots. Among the projected top sellers are some 125 drawings of Irish lighthouses and islands by lighthouse commissioner Robert Callwell (£6,000-8,000), a collection of the works of Col. Henry Hope Crealock (£5,000-8,000) and a rather worn copy of the first edition, first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (£6,000-8,000).


Finally, on Saturday, March 24, Addison & Sarova sells Rare Books & Paper, in 186 lots. Items to watch include a 1578 Gerard de Jode world map ($10,000-15,000) and a 1502 Milan edition of John Mandeville’s travels ($30,000-40,000). 


Image credit: Forum Auctions

Nobody ever says “men artists.” Females in the creative arts, however, are often described as women painters, women cartoonists, or women illustrators. Why not just call them artists, illustrators, or cartoonists? 


Drawn-to-Purpose-Book-Cover copy.jpgThat question came up at a panel discussion yesterday at the Library of Congress honoring the publication of Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists by Martha H. Kennedy (University Press of Mississippi, 2018). The book complements and expands on an exhibition of the same name currently on view at the library and curated by Kennedy, curator of popular and applied graphic art in the library’s prints and photographs division. 


“When we say ‘women illustrators,’ we create a separate category that’s problematic,” said panelist Whitney Sherman, illustrator and director of the MFA in illustration practice program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. 


The “Drawn to Purpose” exhibition and companion book can be seen as part of a larger push to make the work of female cartoonists and illustrators more visible. In the commercial publishing sector, identity has become more and more marketable--which gives some artists pause.


“It’s a burgeoning industry of recognizing women,” Sherman said. “I don’t want to be a trend. I want to be part of the whole.”


Barbara Brandon-Croft, creator of the strip “Where I’m Coming From,” talked about her experience as a black female cartoonist. “Where I’m Coming From,” a groundbreaking strip that featured a group of African-American female friends talking about their lives, made its first appearance in 1989 in the Detroit Free Press and ran until 2005 in national syndication. When Universal Press Syndicate was trying to sell the strip, Brandon-Croft recalled editors would say “But we already have ‘Cathy,’” as though there was room for only one cartoon about women and their lives--even though it was fine for the same papers to run both “Heathcliff” and “Garfield.” 


Being black and being female, Brandon-Croft said, makes a historically uneven playing field even harder to get traction on. “If you want your point of view heard, you have to make yourself heard, and nobody likes a loud woman, it seems,” she said. 


Jillian Tamaki, illustrator, comic artist, and co-creator of “This One Summer,” graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2003. Working in the largely female field of YA and ‘kidlit’ illustration, she said, she still sees gender bias play out in who gets book deals, money, awards, and the kind of attention that builds high-profile careers. “It’s a matriarchy in some ways, but inequalities persist, especially when power comes into it,” she said. 


Tamaki said, “There’s a reason the canon is the way it is and looks the way it does. I think you need to aggressively reshape it.” Publishing, she said, needs “to be more intentional and more aware” of existing power structures that promote some artists at the expense of others. “There’s a lot of questioning of those structures” now, she said, especially by up and coming artists and readers who want to see their own experiences valued and reflected by the industry.


Social media has accelerated that process, and boosted careers, by building communities and putting illustrators and cartoonists directly in touch with people who appreciate their work. The Internet has its dangerous corners--stories of online abuse directed at women abound in almost every field--and raises some complicated arts-versus-marketing questions for artists of any gender, who can feel pressure to brand themselves as part of their work. 


“It can be really scary,” Tamaki said. “But I can’t imagine my career without it.”


Many cartoonists and illustrators use Instagram and Tumblr as platforms for sharing their work now, the panelists said. That’s where a lot of the action is--and it’s one of the biggest challenges for curators thinking about how to present and preserve the contemporary work being created by cartoonists and illustrators of all genders.


-Jennifer Howard is a writer based in Washington, D.C. She wrote a feature story on the “Drawn to Purpose” exhibition for FB&C’s spring 2018 issue. Follow her on Twitter: @JenHoward


Image: Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Well, it’s officially Rare Book Week in New York! As we’ve done for the past few years now, we’ve put together a handy guide to the book fairs, auctions, exhibitions, and other eating/drinking/browsing opportunities available to those who make the annual biblio-pilgrimage. It’s all here.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 7.39.31 PM.pngBut that’s not all. There are two more events worth putting on your literary itinerary.

On Thursday, March 8, at 2:30-3:30 pm, just prior to the NYABF’s preview night, antiquarian bookseller Justin Croft will be delivering the 2018 Grolier Club Rare Book Week lecture: “Published without Publicity,” a personal view of the privately produced manuscript book.

And on Sunday, March 11, at 10:00 a.m., the ABAA Women’s Initiative will host Collections and Women: A Panel Discussion at the Park Avenue Armory. Panelists Elizabeth Denlinger (curator, NYPL), Sarah Gordon (postdoctoral fellow in women’s history, New-York Historical Society), and Molly Schwartzburg (curator, UVA) will address some of the many facets of women and collecting, in a wide-ranging discussion moderated by antiquarian bookseller Nina Musinsky.

Opening this weekend at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is an exhibition titled Beyond Words: Book Illustration in the Age of Shakespeare. Curated by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, it includes more than eighty rare books and prints from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century and features woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, some even in color. According to a press release, “The books and prints are from England and a number of European nations, bringing to life the circulation of ideas--both verbal and visual--in Shakespeare’s day.” Here’s a sneak peek at some of the extraordinary illustrations on display:

smPinder_152966 copy.jpgHand-colored images of urine flasks from a 1506 medical guide, meant to diagnose illnesses based on different colors.

smLutherSermon_009416 copy.jpgThe title page of a sermon by Martin Luther printed in Wittenberg in 1522, packed with images of animals, people, and a printing press.

smAbbaGregory_152797 copy.jpgAn intriguing 1691 portrait of an Ethiopian abbot, a rare image of an African scholar of the time.

Beyond Words remains on view through June 3. You can also follow on social media via the hashtag #FolgerBeyond.

Images courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

In 1921, T.S. Eliot took leave from his banking job and went to the seaside town of Margate in Kent, England. It was meant to be a period of convalescence, but Eliot spent his time working on what would become his most famous work, a long poem called The Waste Land. “On Margate Sands./I can connect/Nothing with nothing,” he wrote. It was published a year later and has inspired countless writers and artists ever since.

Journeys with 'The Waste Land' at Turner Contemporary, photography Thierry Bal (12)(1) copy.jpgThe connection between Eliot’s poem and the art it inspired--and, indeed, the landscape at the root of it all--is explored in a new exhibition titled Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ that opened earlier this month at Turner Contemporary in Margate. A group of locals who comprise the Waste Land Research Group curated the exhibition.

Journeys with 'The Waste Land' at Turner Contemporary, photography Thierry Bal (5)(1) copy.jpgSpotlighting the work of more than sixty artists, including Berenice Abbott, R. B. Kitaj, and Edward Hopper, the exhibition has been hailed as “a lively, imaginative and evocative show that by revelling (just as Eliot did) in the collage of our culture with its vast cast of characters, dense overlay of references and polyphony of voices, captures the atmosphere of the poem to which it pays visual tribute.”

Journeys with 'The Waste Land' at Turner Contemporary, photography Thierry Bal (3)(1) copy.jpgJourneys with ‘The Waste Land’ remains on view through May 7.  

Images of the exhibition’s installation. Credit: Thierry Bal.

A quick update on last week’s sales first: at Lyon & Turnbull, that album of early photographs of India sold for £40,000 (over the estimate of £5,000-8,000). At Swann Galleries, an 1873 album of photographs from an Army Corps of Engineers project in Louisiana fetched $93,750, over estimates of just $15,000-20,000.

                                                                                                                                                                  On Wednesday, February 21, University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics, in 248 lots. A map of Cuba consulted by President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, known as the “Victory map,” is estimated at $30,000-35,000, while an archive of letters and other documents written by Elizabeth Bacon Custer could sell for $20,000-25,000. A varied sale with a number of very interesting lots.

                                                                                                                                                                          PBA Galleries offers Fine Books, Science & Medicine, Art, Illustration & Children’s Literature on February 22, in 492 lots. The top estimate goes to Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach’s Surgical Observations on the Restoration of the Nose (1833) at $10,000-15,000. An inscribed first edition of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is estimated at $1,000-1,500.

                                                                                                                                                                           Heritage Auctions in Dallas holds a pair of sales toward the end of the week:

                                                                                                                                                                                    - From February 22 to 24, a Comics and Comic Art Signature Auction, with 1,415 items up for grabs. An original Frank Frazetta painting, “Tree of Death” (1970), has a $300,000 reserve, while original cover art for Amazing Spider-Man No. 100 has a $190,000 current bid at time of writing. An issue of Batman No. 1 (pictured) currently stands at $160,000. 


batman.jpeg                                                                                                                                                                                     - On February 24, Heritage offers the second part of The David and Janice Frent Collection of Political & Presidential Americana, in 659 lots. As with the political memorabilia sale noted last week, this auction offers a very wide range of material types, and the catalog (like that for University Archives sale above) makes for an excellent browse. There are some neat campaign broadsides--including one for an 1864 Lincoln-Johnson meeting--and textiles, plus notable campaign items like a rebus-style stickpin for Winfield Scott Hancock and an exceedingly strange-looking 1912 Bull Moose/Elephant “fusion” button.

February 16 marks the 150th anniversary of photographer Edward S. Curtis’ birth. Curtis, a middle-school dropout who died in relative obscurity, is best known now for his visionary (and budget-breaking) twenty-volume set of photographs and ethnographic descriptions called The North American Indian. Volume one appeared in 1907, with the support of Theodore Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan. (Read more about Curtis’ life in our 2011 feature.)

OasisInTheBadlands.jpgSupport for Curtis’ project waned as the project dragged on--the final volume was released in 1930--and he was largely forgotten until the 1970s when increased interest in Native Americans and fine art photography edged him back into the spotlight. With originals scarce and many negatives destroyed, Curtis became collectible. It was right around this time at Christopher Cardozo, in his twenties and doing a mixture of photography, ethnography, and musicology in Mexico, discovered Curtis. As he remembers it, someone mentioned the photographer to him, and he took off for a bookstore, traveling twenty miles. “I remember where the book was on the shelf ... that moment I saw my first Curtis photograph,” Cardozo said, adding that he soon went into debt buying vintage Curtis prints.

Cardozo was more than smitten and spent the subsequent 45 years buying and selling Curtis books, portfolios, and photogravures. His personal collection now numbers around 4,000 prints, and yes, he does own an original set of The North American Indian, which has been known to sell for $1 million+ at auction. His is a (deluxe) tissue paper set that he collected in parts over a 5-7-year period. “I really wanted an all-tissue set, because that’s what I love,” he said.

Then, about four years ago, he upped the ante and decided, in “a moment of temporary insanity,” to undertake a fine art republication of Curtis’ entire North American Indian. He said he had several clients over the years who wanted to own a vintage Curtis volume but could not afford it (they can run $10,000-50,000 each), and the only reprint that exists is a poor-quality academic facsimile from the seventies. So began a 35,000-hour project that culminated earlier this year in a contemporary copy of Curtis’ magnum opus that can be an “attractive alternative” for collectors and institutions. Each set contains 20 volumes, 20 portfolios, 2,234 photographic prints, 5,023 pages of text, and over 2.5 million words. (Here’s a short video on the production.)

Curtis Repub.jpgThere are two editions. The 150th Anniversary Custom Edition, which Cardozo believes is “the largest republication project in North American publishing history,” includes a full-size recreation of the original with photos printed “one sheet at a time,” and bound in gilt-decorated three-quarter leather. It sells for $28,500. The Complete Reference Edition is a less expensive reproduction featuring the same content and offered pre-sale for $5,200 until May 15, when the price increases to $6,500. For both editions, Cardozo and his team digitized and refined the original letterpress, which featured small and often degraded type. The reproduction is thus easier to read, while retaining the “essential character of the original,” according to the prospectus.

“We wanted something that we felt would be respectful to Curtis,” Cardozo said. “I didn’t wanted to publish something where the sequencing or the text was changed. We knew people would prefer that.”     

The guiding mantra of this project was supplied by Curtis himself, who once wrote, “It’s such a big dream, I can’t see it all.” But he eventually did--and now so has Cardozo.

To further celebrate Curtis’ 150th, several exhibitions and lectures are planned this year.
Images: (Top) “Oasis in the Badlands,” 1905, by Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Christopher Cardozo Fine Art;  (Middle) The Custom Edition of Cardozo’s reproduction, courtesy of Christopher Cardozo Fine Art.

Should your travels bring you to Cambridge, Massachusetts, this spring, chart a path toward Harvard’s Houghton Library, where Landmarks: Maps as Literary Illustration opened last week. Curated by Peter X. Accardo, the exhibition showcases sixty literary maps that bring to life such imagined places as More’s Utopia and Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood. Here are a few highlights:   

Baum Tik Tok of Oz copy.jpgProfessor Wogglebug’s Map of the Marvelous Land of Oz, attributed to L. Frank Baum. From: L. Frank Baum, Tik-Tok of Oz (Chicago, 1914). “This first printed map of the Marvelous Land of Oz presents its four counties in their official colors, but reverses the position of Munchkin and Winkie Counties. The inconsistency is also reflected by the map’s compass points, where East unusually is to the West, and West is to the East.” Credit: Houghton Library, Typ 970.14.1955 - Presented in honor of Dennis C. Marnon, 2018.

Cervantes Quixote copy.jpgA double-page copperplate map of a Portion of the Kingdom of Spain by Tomas Lopez. From: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid, 1780). “Their route is delineated in red; the numbers added along the way are keyed to thirty-five episodes listed in an elegant cartouche surmounted by loyal Panza and Quixote’s empty suit of armor.” Credit: Houghton Library, *SC6.C3375.B617d 1780 (B) - Gift of William Carmichael, 1782.

Scudery Clelie copy.jpgFold-out, hand-colored “Carte de Tendre,” attributed to François Chauveau. From: Madeleine de Scudéry, Clélie, histoire romaine (Paris, 1654). “Multiple suitors cause the novel’s heroine Clélie to create a Map of Love, originally conceived by de Scudéry as a society salon game. Three paths to spiritual love emanate from the city of New Friendship, leading in the west to Recognition, in the north to Esteem, and in the east to Inclination.” Credit: Houghton Library, *75-193 - Amy Lowell fund, 1975.

The exhibition remains up through April 14.

Images courtesy of Houghton Library

When Caleb Carr’s historical thriller, The Alienist, was published in 1994, it quickly became one of my favorite contemporary novels. Set on the dark, gritty streets of fin-de-siècle New York, the novel follows a group of amateur detectives, led by forensic psychiatrist (or, “alienist”) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, as they search for a serial killer. It has, inevitably, been compared to the Sherlock Holmes books.

It seemed certain that The Alienist would be adapted to the big screen. According to the New York Times, “movie rights were sold for half a million dollars before the book was even published.” But it’s a dense book with many characters, and no producer could get it right. “It’s been 25 years of battling against really bad interpretations of this book,” Carr told the New York Times.

Alienist.jpgUntil now. On January 22, when the TNT network debuts a ten-episode series that takes the book from beginning to end, starring Daniel Brühl as Kreizler; Luke Evans as newspaper reporter John Moore; and Dakota Fanning as NYPD secretary Sara Howard (pictured above). The Times reported that it is the “most expensive series in TNT’s history,” which appears to have paid off. The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the first episodes, calling them “full of solid performances and gorgeous, creepy visuals.” Watch the official trailer here.

The good news continues. While Carr followed up with a sequel, The Angel of Darkness, in 1997, and has written several other books since, he hasn’t returned to the world of Dr. Kreizler and his crime-fighting cohorts. That changes this fall, when a new novel, The Alienist at Armageddon, is scheduled to arrive.

If you’re just getting caught up on Carr, a TNT tie-in paperback was just published by Random House that has a pretty cool cover (pictured below).

9780525510277 copy.jpgImages via IMDB and Penguin Random House

Bibliography Week 2018

Bibliography Week is coming back to New York later this month. Here are the day-to-day highlights: 


Festivities kick off on Tuesday, January 23, when the American Antiquarian Society opens a special viewing of the exhibition, Radiant with Color and Art: McLoughlin Brothers and the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920, on Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Grolier Club. Later, Georgia State University professor John McMillian speaks at 6 p.m. at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library about the underground press and the rise of alternative media in America in the 1960s.


Wednesday is another busy day, also at the Grolier Club, with a conference dedicated to the disposition of collections. Collectors, librarians, legal experts, and other members of the book trade will discuss all aspects of collections dispersal from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Thursday’s events are led by the ABAA at the French Institute Alliance Françoise (FIAF), directly across the street from the Grolier Club. Over 30 ABAA members--including Rabelais, Bromer Booksellers, Les Enluminures, William Reese, Abby Schoolman, and others--and will be showcasing their specialties to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Next, check out an assortment of fine press books from around the world at Brooklyn’s Fine Press Salon at 37 Greenpoint Avenue. (Contact Felice Teebe at for further details.)


The Cosmopolitan Club hosts the annual meeting of the Bibliographical Society of America on Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the New York Academy of Medicine (1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street) hosts its annual bibliographical lecture on Saturday, January 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s speaker is Amherst College’s head curator Michael Kelly, who will be discussing medicine and scientific racism.

                                                                                                                                                                               Finally, the week concludes at the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, Trustees’ Room), with the annual meeting of the American Printing History Association from 2 to 5:30 p.m. 


The whole bookish enterprise will be, as in years past, a fitting warm-up (pun intended) for the California International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Pasadena Convention Center, February 9-11. 

New Year’s Eve for Booklovers in Pittsburgh

Though not necessarily known for being a bookish time of year, literary-minded Pittsburgh residents have compelling reasons to brave the elements this New Year’s Eve: Amazing Books & Records is hosting the 3rd annual Booklovers Bash at its three stores throughout the city. Blues band Chillent will perform at the Carson Street location, and the Squirrel Hill stores will serve free libations and spin the turntable. The store will also open its new cafe to customers as well. Festivities start at 8:30 p.m. on December 31. RSVP here.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Will you be ringing in 2018 with a beloved book in your lap or at a lit-themed soirée? Let us know on Twitter @finebooks

                                                                                                                                                                                           Happy New Year to all, and may it contain many great books. 

Auction Guide