coming eventsComing Events

September 6

PBA

September 13

Heritage

September 18-19

Sotheby’s 

September 20

Swann Galleries 

September 21

Skinner 

September 25

Bonhams 

September 27

Forum 

Find More Events in the FB&C Calendar

In the News

Exhibition Charts the Rise and Relevance of the Arts and Crafts Design Movement

Austin, TX — A detailed look at the history of the Arts and Crafts... read more

The Morgan Appoints Maria L. Fredericks as Head of the Thaw Conservation Center

New York —The Morgan Library & Museum announced today the appointment of Maria L.... read more

LOC Puts Papers of President Theodore Roosevelt Online

The largest collection of the papers of President Theodore Roosevelt, documenting his extraordinary career... read more

The 42nd Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, Nov. 16-18

Boston - The annual fall gathering for booklovers, the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair... read more

1785 Engraving of Washington & Bob Dylan's Handwritten Lyrics at University Archives Auction

Westport, CT - A rare, 1785 hand-colored portrait engraving of George Washington, printed for... read more

HistoryMiami Museum Features Former National Geographic Photographer Nathan Benn

Miami - HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate and a premier Miami cultural institution, presents... read more

Library of Congress Appoints New Chief of the Hispanic Division

The Library of Congress appointed Suzanne Schadl, academic expert in Latin American studies, as... read more

"Masters of Photography: 19th Century and Now" at Paris Photo in November

Paris - Iconic images by the earliest masters of photography—as well as contemporary artists... read more

Follow us on TwitterLike us on Facebook
Auction Guide
Advertise with Us
2015 Bookseller Resource Guide
sponsored by
Old World Auctions

Big Fish

An illustrated book on ichthyology reels in $165,000, a Hemingway-inscribed fishing book on the line, and other good catches

Fishes on the Grand Scale

Ichthyologie, ou histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des Poissons … by Marcus Elieser Bloch, $165,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions New York on October 13.

The plate reproduced here depicts Trachinus Draco, or the Common Weever. Courtesy of Bloomsbury.

Generally considered to be the finest illustrated work on fishes ever produced—even if some of the illustrations do veer towards the fanciful—this ichthyological masterwork contains 432 plates in all, by a variety of artists and engravers to accompany the descriptions provided by Bloch, a German physician. In this exceptional copy, many plates have been partly color-printed in red, brown, or orange before being finished in watercolors and heightened with gold, silver, and bronze to reproduce the metallic sheen in fish scales.

The six-volume set of Bloch’s Ichthyologie, bound in tree calf for the Duchesse de Berry. Courtesy of Bloomsbury.

Remarkably clean internally, this example has seen the twelve original folio parts, printed in Berlin in the years 1785-97, bound as six volumes in contemporary tree calf for the Duchesse de Berry, whose arms are found on the covers. Once in the Belgian Royal Library, it was last seen at auction at Christie’s in London in1982, when the dollar equivalent of its sterling selling price was just a shade over $22,000. This time it went to US dealer Graham Arader at a sum far in excess of anything previously seen at auction.

The Bloch set was just one of many spectacular natural history lots sold as part of the library of Richard Harris (with more to come in London on the 19th of this month), and it is worth noting that as a condition for getting the consignment, Bloomsbury had to agree to charge a buyers’ premium of just 10%, less than half of their normal start-up rate. But at this first Harris sale, which also included other plate books and Americana, the total of around $3 million had them smiling broadly at the end of the day nonetheless.

The Old Man and the Marlin

American Big Game Fishing by Eugene V. Connett, $24,000 at PBA Galleries of San Francisco on September 16.

American Big Game Fishing bound in blue morocco gilt in a deluxe limited edition. Courtesy of PBA Galleries.

What one might call ‘regular’ copies of this Derrydale Press limited edition of 1935 might make $1,500 at auction nowadays, but this was not only one of the fifty-six deluxe copies that Connett, founder of the press, had produced, it had a double Ernest Hemingway connection.

A pencil drawing of a marlin drawn by Lynn Bogue Hunt in a copy of American Big Game Fishing inscribed to Ernest Hemingway. Courtesy of PBA Galleries.

Like most other deluxe copies it was bound in full blue morocco gilt and contained an original signed drawing by Lynn Bogue Hunt, whose illustrations, along with photographs, form the pictorial content. As Ernest Hemingway had contributed a chapter on “Marlin off Cuba,” it was only to be expected that he would have a copy of this special edition, and loosely inserted in his copy was a pencil drawing of a hooked Marlin leaping from the water inscribed “To Ernest Hemingway, Lynn Bogue Hunt.”

But there was more. Hemingway later inscribed the book as a gift to his wife Pauline’s uncle, “To Uncle Gus [Pfeiffer] as a souvenir of the day we caught the first big tuna, with much gratitude and affection.”

This is only the third of these deluxe copies to have been landed this century, but even with that Hemingway link, not the most expensive. In 2007, angling auction specialists Langs of Boxborough, Massachusetts, got $26,240 for a copy in which the Hunt drawing was inscribed to Charles Lehmann. That sale saw a whole raft of high or record prices for deluxe Derrydale books, the biggest catch being one of just twenty-five deluxe copies of Preston J. Jennings’ A Book of Trout Flies of 1935, complete with mounted specimens, which weighed in at $89,600.

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Next