Auctions | December 5, 2011

Christmas-Related Books & Manuscripts At Bonhams

NEW YORK—Nearly 300 items will be offered in the Fine Books & Manuscripts auction,  December 15 at Bonhams in New York. Being one of the last auctions of this year, and adding to holiday anticipation, the sale boasts several Christmas-related items among its offerings, including: early printed books and illuminated manuscripts, travel literature and maps, science and natural history, art, children’s books, literature, history, Americana, music and theater.

Christina Geiger, the Fine Books and Manuscripts Director, and Matthew Haley, the department specialist, state about the sale, “We in the Book Department are excited about rounding out our best year ever with some Christmas cheer. With the auction on December 15, collectors don't have to wait till the night before Christmas to get in the holiday spirit!"

The holiday theme can be seen in our Arts and Literature section with two delightful original illustrations for different editions of Clement Moore’s 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, one of which is by Arthur Rackham (pre-sale estimates $600-800, $8,000-12,000); a set of the five Christmas books by Charles Dickens, bound in full crimson morocco (pre-sale est. $2,000-3,000); as well as songwriter Jerome Kern’s copy of the first edition of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol (pre-sale est. $4,000-6,000).

The highlights of the travel section of the sale are the maps and atlases: a fine and rare set of five woodcut maps by Heinrich Bünting, including the so-called “cloverleaf” world map (pre-sale est. $25,000-35,000); a Spanish edition of Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum orbis terrarium, dating from 1602 and containing 118 double-page engraved mapsheets (pre-sale est. $100,000-150,000); and a 1535 atlas by Ptolemy, with 50 maps of the ancient and modern world (pre-sale est. $25,000-35,000).

In the Science and Natural History section of the auction, on offer is the royal octavo edition of John Audubon’s Birds, the most extensive American color plate work of the time, bound with Audubon’s Quadrupeds (pre-sale est. $80,000-120,000). Other highlights in the section include rare letters and manuscripts by Hermann Oberth and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, men considered to be among the founding fathers of rocketry and space flight.

An exciting highlight for comic books collectors is the first edition of the first American comic book (1842), virtually unknown and in original wrappers (pre-sale est. $10,000-15,000); Joseph Heller’s writing desk and lamp (pre-sale est. $1,500-2,000); the first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (pre-sale est. $20,000-30,000); an autographed letter by Thomas Jefferson to James Dinsmore, the craftsman responsible for the woodwork for Monticello’s famous dome (pre-sale est. $25,000-35,000); and a rare collection of working musical manuscripts by Miles Davis (pre-sale est. $2,500-3,500).

The Fine Books & Manuscripts items will be on public display in New York beginning Saturday, December 10 through Thursday, December 15. The auction will begin at 1 pm on December 15 in the New York location of Bonhams at 580 Madison Avenue.