Auctions | March 9, 2020

Newton Manuscript Achieves Top Lot at Bonhams

Courtesy of Bonhams

Newton's autograph manuscript in English, exploring the nature of God, 4 pp, c.1710. Price realized: $106,325

New York − An important handwritten Isaac Newton manuscript exploring the nature of God and creation sold for $106,325 at the Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale on March 6 in New York. It had an estimate of US$100,000-150,000. Extensively reworked, underlined and amended, this manuscript speaks directly to the relationship of God and Christ through the lens of the gospel of John, shedding light on the philosophical underpinnings of his monumental Principia – one of the most important works in the history of science – in which he expressed his theory of universal gravitation. With nearly all of Newton’s manuscripts now permanently in institutions, this manuscript was one of the most important remaining in private hands.

Other highlights of the sale included:
    •    An original autograph manuscript, a maquette for Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree, one of his most famous children's books, sold for $52,575 (estimate: $10,000-15,000)
    •    Harry Houdini's (double fold?) milk can sold for $50,075 (estimate: $25,000-35,000). This was the illusionist’s famous "milk can" escape, in which he was locked inside a metal can which was then filled with water, giving him only a short time in which to escape before drowning.
    •    A beautifully illuminated Book of Hours, produced in the last decades of the 15th-century in Rouen, France, sold for $43,825 (estimate: $25,000-35,000)