Two Rare Books Sell for Record-Breaking Prices at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions
Two books are believed to have set record auction prices yesterday at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ sale of the Library of a Gentleman. One of these was Jacob Christian Schaeffer’s early work on fungi that sold for £24,180. Overall, the single owner collection of natural history books was eagerly received by bidders, with 92% of the 234 lots selling for a total of £400,470.
Rupert Powell, Deputy Chairman of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions said: “Schaeffer’s work on the fungi is one of the most exceptional; the record breaking price it achieved in the saleroom yesterday reflected the sale as a whole and Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ position in the currently buoyant market. We are thrilled with the result.”
The 18th century Fungorum Qui in Bavaria et Palatinatu circa Ratisbonam Nascuntur Icones Natvis Coloribus Expressae was an exceptional third edition set of one of the earliest and best-illustrated works on fungi beautifully bound in a contemporary full red morocco binding. As far as the auction house is aware, it is the highest price achieved for the work, breaking all previous records.[Lot 60]
Schaeffer was a Prussian botanist and zoologist who was elected to the academies in Uppsala and Berlin, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society. Of his extensive publications the Fungorumwas one of his most spectacular.
The sale opened with a flurry of bidding on the natural history works and A Monograph of the Trogonidae, of Family of Trogons, by John Gould sold for £22,320 against an estimate of £8,000-12,000, setting the first record price of the important sale. [Lot 7]
The revised edition of Gould’s work on the tropical rain-forest birds included 47 fine hand-coloured lithographed plates and 11 new plates not present in the first edition. The name ‘trogon’ is derived from the Greek words for nibbling, in reference to their habit of gnawing into trees to make their nest, as illustrated, left.
Gould was an influential 19th Century English artist, specialising in ornithology, his observations playing a role in the formation of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. He published a number of monographs on birds which were illustrated by plates produced by himself and his wife Elizabeth Gould, along with other artists.
Other popular ornithological works included George Edward’s A Natural History of the Uncommon Birds. The 4 volume set of Edward’s extensive and beautifully illustrated survey sold for £13,640. The Fine Bird Books noted in 1990 that: “At the time of issue, the Natural History and Gleanings was one of the most important of all Bird Books, both as a Fine Bird Book and a work of Ornithology. It is still high on each list.” [Lot 6]
The last publication by celebrated palaeontologist James Sowerby, The Mineral Conchology of Great Britain sold for £22,320, topping all his works in the sale. The book was published in parts from 1812-1829 and his son James de Carol Sowerby continued the work in 1822 after his father’s death. [Lot 100]
The sale was held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions London saleroom in the heart of Mayfair. Full listings of the prices realised can be found online at www.bloomsburyauctions.com. The next Printed Books and Manuscripts sale will be held on Thursday 6th March 2014 and a further sale of Books from the Ecclesiastical Collection of Joseph Mendham on the 20th March 2014. Both will be held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ London saleroom.