Gutenberg Leaf, Audubon’s Quadrupeds Will Lead Swann Galleries April 11

New York—Outstanding examples of early printed books—including incunabula from the Library of Kenneth Rapoport—are featured in Swann Galleries’ annual spring auction of Fine Books on Thursday, April 11, which is also opening day of the 53rd Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair. The sale additionally offers fine examples of bindings, illustrated books, literature, science and natural history, travel books and writing manuals.


The book with the highest pre-sale estimate in the auction is John James Audubon and John Bachman’s The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, a first edition in book form of Audubon’s second monumental and enduringly popular work of natural history illustration, containing 150 hand-colored lithographed plates, New York, 1845-48 (estimate: $250,000 to $350,000).

Another richly illustrated natural history lot is a first edition of Daniel Giraud Elliot’s A Monograph of the Tetraoninae, or Family of the Grouse, with 27 hand-colored plates of birds and eggs, New York, 1865 ($10,000 to $15,000).


A run of more than 45 lots of incunabula features Giovanni Boccaccio, Genealogiae deorum, an encyclopedia of the deities of classical mythology, Venice, 1472 ($25,000 to $35,000); a handsome copy of Plato, Opera, second edition, Venice, 1491 ($20,000 to $30,000); Aristotle, De caelo et mundo, a sammelband containing the philosopher’s principal work on cosmology, elaborating on his geocentric model of the universe, and containing commentaries by Thomas Aquinas and Petrus de Alvernia, Venice, 1490-95 ($20,000 to $30,000); and a single leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, with the text of Wisdom 5:23-8:7, Mainz, circa 1450-55, hinged into a copy of A. Edward Newton’s A Noble Fragment ($40,000 to $50,000).

From a century later is a hand-colored copy of the Luther Children’s Bible and Apostle’s Creed, the first protestant collection of Bible stories for children, with hand-colored illustrations by Virgil Solis, mostly after Albrecht Dürer, throughout, Nuremberg, 1563 ($6,000 to $9,000).

Among the visually striking writing manuals that provided guides for lettering, calligraphy and printing are a combined edition of Ludovico Degli Arrighi Vicentino’s La Operina and Il Modo de temperare le penne, printed entirely from woodblocks, the first printed book of its kind, Venice, 1533 ($10,000 to $15,000); Giovanni Battista Palatino, Libro . . . , the last of the three major Italian copy-books of the 16th century, Rome, 1561 ($3,000 to $5,000); Marcello Scalzini, called Il Camerino, Regole Nuove . . . , a scarce manual of chancery cursive, Brescia, 1608 ($3,000 to $5,000); and Jean Midolle’s tour-de-force of color printing, Spécimen des ?critures Modernes Romaines fleuronées . . . , Strasbourg, 1834-35 ($1,000 to $2,000).

Of Jewish interest are an attractive set of the second Estienne Hebrew Bible, and the first in small format, which is considered one of the most impressive examples of Hebrew printing of the French Renaissance, Paris, 1544-46 ($8,000 to $12,000); and an inscribed copy of Arthur Szyk’s The Haggadah, printed in vellum, the most celebrated modern illustrated Haggadah, London, 1939 ($30,000 to $40,000).

Prized works by Charles Darwin are Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle . . . , containing Philip Parker King’s description of the 1826-30 voyage along the southern coast of South America, Robert FitzRoy’s account of the 1831-36 voyage around the world, and a first issue of Darwin’s first published work, now famous as the genesis of his theory of evolutionary biology, London, 1839 ($15,000 to $25,000); and a first limited edition of On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, London, 1859 ($20,000 to $30,000).

The auction will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 11.

The books will be on public exhibition Saturday, April 6, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday, April 8 to Wednesday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Illustrated catalogues, with information on bidding by mail or fax, are available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Tobias Abeloff at 212-254-4710, extension 18, or

Live online bidding is also available via

First photo: John James Audubon and John Bachman, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, New York, 1845-48 (estimate: $250,000 to $350,000).

Second photo: Leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, with the text of Wisdom 5:23-8:7, Mainz, circa 1450-55, hinged into a copy of A. Edward Newton's A Noble Fragment (estimate: $40,000 to $50,000).