Swann's April Highlights: Greek Bible Leaves, Dali, & Whitman

New York—Lively bidding led to strong results at Swann Galleries’ spring auction of Fine Books on April 12, which coincided—as it does every year—with the New York Antiquarian Book Fair.

Tobias Abeloff, Swann’s Early Printed Books specialist, said, “An intriguing selection of material ranging from 11th-century Greek Bible leaves to a portfolio of surrealistic etchings by Salvador Dalí drew an enthusiastic response from a packed salesroom as well as from phone and Internet bidders.”

Among the top lots were two vellum leaves from an Eastern Mediterranean Bible in Greek from circa 1000 AD, one with text from Philippians 2:9-12 and 2:8-24 that brought $33,600*, and the other, with text of Ephesians 4:9-25 and Philippians 1:14-2:2, $26,400.

Books containing information, mappings and illustrations related to foreign lands were among the sale highlights. These included Jean-Baptiste S.J. Du Halde, Description Géographique, Historique, Chronologique, Politique, et Physique de l'Empire de la Chine, Paris, 1735, a first edition of the most comprehensive European work on China up until that time, compiled from published and unpublished writings by French Jesuit missionaries, $31,200; Luigi Mayer, Views in Egypt, Views in Palestine and Views in the Ottoman Empire, first editions in book form, three volumes in one, London, 1801-04-03, $9,000; William Tooke, Boydell’s Picturesque Scenery of Norway, with 80 hand-colored aquatint plates after John William Edy, London, circa 1828, $21,600; and Souvenirs de Constantinople, with 20 hand-colored lithographed views after Jean Brindesi, Paris, circa 1855-60, $11,400.

The top literary item was a scarce first edition of Walt Whitman’s masterpiece Leaves of Grass, first edition, Brooklyn, 1855, which achieved $28,800.

Art books of note included Das graphische Werk Emil Nolde bis 1910, one of 35 deluxe first edition copies with a signed print, one of 10 copies on Japan, Berlin, 1911, $15,000; Sonia Delaunay and Jacques Damase, L’Alphabet, with 27 lithographed plates, one of 30 hors de commerce copies signed by Delaunay and Damase, Milan, 1969, $6,240; and Salvador Dalí’s Memories of Surrealism, one of 40 signed copies on Japan nacre, New York, 1971, $17,400.

Collectors were drawn to a set of five albums containing stunning Art Deco typography studies, all hand colored, likely Paris, circa 1930, $12,000.

Among fine private press examples were the Cranach Press’s The Tragedie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, Weimar, 1930, $9,000 and the Golden Cockerel Press printing of The Canterbury Tales, four volumes, Waltham St. Lawrence, 1928-30, $7,800.

Of Jewish interest were Baron Wolf Ehrenfried von Reizenstein, Der vollkommene Pferde-Kenner, first edition of a comprehensive equestrian manual, significant for an index containing Yiddish historical linguistics, Uffenheim, 1764, $9,600 and Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat, 1896, with Proceedings of the Zionist Congress held at Basle, Switzerland, 1897, $7,800.

Other sale highlights included fine incunabula and early printed works such as Werner Rolewinck, Fasciculus temporum, Venice, 1480, $7,200; Psalterium beati Brunonis episcopi herbipolensis, second edition of the commentary on the Psalter by St. Bruno of Würzburg, Nuremberg, 1497, $5,520; Pope Julius II, Plenaria indulgencia . . . , a crusade indulgence in Catalan, Toledo, circa 1509-10, $18,000; and Historiarum veteris testamenti icones, with 94 woodcut illustrations of Old Testament subjects after Hans Holbein, the Younger, Lyon, 1539, $10,200.

An illustrated catalogue, with complete prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information, and to propose consignments for upcoming book auctions, please contact Tobias Abeloff (15th-18th century books) at 212-254-4710, extension 18, or tabeloff@swanngalleries.com; or Christine von der Linn (19th-20th century books) at 212-254-4710, extension 20, or cvonderlinn@swanngalleries.com.
*All prices include buyer’s premium.