Swann Galleries' April Auction of Fine Book & Manuscripts

New York—Swann Galleries’ spring auction of Fine Books & Manuscripts, coinciding as always with the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, takes place on Thursday, April 7. The sale comprises fine press and illustrated books, illuminated manuscript leaves, incunabula and early printing, 19th- & 20th-century literature, decorative sets and bindings.

The star item in the auction, a special association copy of the Golden Cockerel Press masterpiece, The Four Gospels . . . , illustrated by Eric Gill, Waltham St. Lawrence, 1931, is sure to entice serious collectors. The first inscribed copy to appear at auction, this elegant and sumptuous work, one of only 12 copies printed on Roman vellum and bound in gilt-decorated white pigskin by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, is inscribed by Gill to his friend and colleague Leonard Woolf (estimate: $60,000 to $75,000).

The sale opens with a hand-colored copy of Johannes Angelus, Astrolabium, with more than 400 woodcut illustrations, including many large depictions of astrological subjects, Augsburg, 1488 ($20,000 to $30,000). Other sought-after 15th-century works include Francesco Filelfo, Satyrae, first edition of a collection of vituperative satires aimed mostly at the court of Cosimo de´ Medici by one of the leading Greek scholars of the time, written after his expulsion from Florence by the Medici regime, Milan, 1476 ($15,000 to $20,000); and two illuminated manuscript Books of Hours on vellum, circa 1475, one in Dutch from the Northern Netherlands, with elaborate initials and borders, the other in Latin, from Flanders, with 12 full-page miniatures ($15,000 to $25,000 and $25,000 to $35,000 respectively).

Also featured is an illuminated manuscript prayer book on vellum, in Latin and French, attributed to calligrapher Nicolas Jarry, Paris, mid-1600s ($15,000 to $20,000). In addition, there are twenty vellum manuscript leaves and initials, most illuminated, dating from the 12th through the 15th centuries, including a full page miniature of God the Father from a choir book painted in the style of Master of Jean Rolin, Burgundy, circa 1490 ($10,000 to $15,000).

Continuing the tradition, there is a modern illuminated manuscript of James Russell Lowell’s popular Arthurian tale, The Vision of Sir Launfal, with pre-Raphaelite-style illustrations and calligraphy by Louis Fairfax Muckley, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1925 ($10,000 to $15,000).

Notable illustrated 18th-century works include Architetture, e Prospettive, a collection of engravings after theatrical designs by Giuseppe Galli Bibiena, Augsburg, 1740 ($10,000 to $15,000); Giovanni Jacopo de Marinoni, De astronomica specula domestica et organico apparatu astronomico libri duo, depicting the advanced scientific instruments at the first Viennese observatory, first edition, Vienna, 1745 ($15,000 to $20,000); and a copy with exquisite contemporary hand-coloring of Seconda Parte delle Logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano, one of three volumes of engravings after Raphael’s decorations in the private loggia of Pope Leo X in the Vatican, Rome, 1776 ($14,000 to $25,000).

Nineteenth-century books replete with colored plates include Johann Gottfried Ebel, Die Bergstrassen durch den Canton Graubündten, first edition, deluxe hand-colored issue of a work on the topography and road system of eastern Switzerland with fine aquatint views of Alpine scenery after painter Johann Jakob Meyer, Zurich, 1826 ($15,000 to $25,000); a seven-volume set of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, with 500 hand-colored plates, first American, first octavo and first complete edition, New York and Philadelphia, 1840-44 ($25,000 to $35,000); and a handsome three-volume set of McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with 120 hand-colored plates, third octavo edition Philadelphia, 1855 ($12,000 to $18,000).

Other highlights include a first limited edition of Charles Darwin’s most famous and influential work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, London, 1859, ($50,000 to $70,000); and one of 150 limited edition copies of James Joyce’s Ulysses, on Vergé d’Arches, known as the “Giant Joyce” because of its larger proportions than the other limitations, first edition, Paris, 1922 ($25,000 to $35,000).

Also of note are a complete set in original boards of all 16 cantos of Byron’s Don Juan, London, 1823-24 ($8,000 to $12,000); a two-volume set of Charles Dickens’s The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, bound from the original parts and extensively extra-illustrated with Dickensiana and original watercolors, London, 1837 ($8,000 to $12,000); and a large-paper set of The Spectator, London, 1797, in 8 volumes each decorated with a charming fore-edge painting of London ($4,000 to $6,000).

Rounding out the sale are decoratively bound sets, exquisite late 19th-century bindings; histories and books on military subjects, and a run of signed works illustrated by Arthur Rackham.

The auction will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 7. A sale of Early Printed Books Including Armenian Books follows on Monday, April 11.

The books will be on public exhibition on Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Monday, April 4 to Wednesday, April 6, 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 www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Christine von der Linn (19th-20th century books) at 212-254-4710, extension 20 or cvonderlinn@swanngalleries.com; or Tobias Abeloff (15th-18th century books) at 212-254-4710, extension 18 or tabeloff@swanngalleries.com.
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