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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

Red Morocco and Maine on Vellum

Connecticut Acclaimed

Bernard Romans, Connecticut and parts adjacent, $168,000 at Swann Galleries, June 2.

A completely unsophisticated Bernard Romans map of Connecticut. Dealer Graham Arader called it a “collector’s dream.” Courtesy of Swann Galleries.

Estimated at just $3,000-4,000 and bid to a far, far higher level by a US dealer, this obviously desirable map comprises three joined sheets with overall dimensions of twenty-two inches by twenty-six inches. No maker’s name appears on the map, but it was printed in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1777, and based on advertisements in newspapers of the time, has been attributed to Bernard Romans.

A Dutch surveyor, cartographer, naturalist, engineer, soldier, and writer, Romans is perhaps best known for his Natural History of East and West Florida (1775), but his maps and charts are also considered to have been of a higher than usual standard for the period.

Features such as depth contours along the coast identify this as a third state issue of the map. Long Island and the rivers show outline coloring, and there is some loss along one fold, a few small holes, and overall browning, but while copies are known in institutional collections, this may have been a first appearance at auction.

A Survivor of the Baltic Meltdown

Charles-Pierre Claret de Fleurieu, Neptune de Cattegat et de la Mer Baltique, Euros 62,640 ($89,890) at Reiss & Sohn of Konigsberg-im-Taunus, May 10-13.

The St. Petersburg city plan, shown here, was the one the only plate to escape the meltdown. Courtesy of Reiss & Sohn.

It took twenty-five years to complete the large folio collection of engraved city plans and maps that make up the Comte de Fleurieu’s 1809 atlas of the Baltic regions. No expense or trouble had been spared in this production for France’s director general of ports and arsenals, but only thirty copies were printed before (with one exception) the copper printing plates were destroyed!

Part of a mammoth, four-thousand-lot series of sales that celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the founding of this leading German firm of book auctioneers, this copy had the sixty-six maps, forty-five of them double-page and two folding, in fine, wide margined, and uncut condition in a period binding of red half morocco, though the latter was by now somewhat worn and damp-marked to the lower covers.

Distressed in the Snow

C. B. Newhouse, Scenes on the Road, £4,200 ($6,890) at Bonhams of London on June 7.

“A Signal of Distress, or the Winter Visitor: We shall never get there unless they come and dig us out” from C. B. Newhouse’s Scenes on the Road. Courtesy of Bonhams.

Decades of looking at auction catalogues have taught me that salerooms around the world have their firm favorites when illustrating color plate collections. Time and again I have wondered why they couldn’t let us have something different for a change, but where this oblong folio collection of eighteen hand-colored aquatints of coaching scenes is concerned, I have to say I would be drawn to the same plate.

“A Signal of Distress, or the Winter Visitor: We shall never get there unless they come and dig us out” is a quite delightful image, and the coloring gives just the right winter feel.

Without title or text, as issued, this set of prints published by Thomas McLean in the years 1834-35, was bound in contemporary red half morocco gilt.

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