Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books Upcoming at Swann Galleries

New York—Swann Galleries’ auction of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books on Thursday, February 28 offers Aldine imprints, Bibles, classics, medieval manuscript leaves and post-medieval manuscripts, music, books by and relating to Samuel Johnson, and works on law, astronomy, the occult, China and the 15th-century Albanian national hero Skanderbeg.

Aldine Press highlights include first editions in the original Greek of Sophocles, Tragoediae septem, Venice, 1502, the first Greek classical text to appear in the Aldine portable format (estimate: $6,000 to $9,000); Euripides, Tragoediae septendecim, Venice, 1503 ($15,000 to $20,000); and Pindar et al., Olympia, Pythia, Nemea, Isthmia, Venice, 1513 ($8,000 to $12,000).


A selection of incunabula features the first volume of the first edition of Summa praedicantium by Johannes de Bromyard, a handbook for preachers, Basel, not after 1484 ($6,000 to $9,000); Decimus Junius Juvenalis, Satyrae, Venice, 1482 ($4,000 to $6,000); and the first volume of the Bible in Latin, Biblia cum Postillis Nicolai de Lyra, Nuremberg, 1486 ($2,000 to $3,000).

Other Bibles include a 1568 first edition of the Bishops’ Bible; a 1611 first edition of the King James Bible; a 1618 first edition of Thomas Cartwright’s refutation of the 1582 Rheims Catholic New Testament; and Samuel Johnson’s copy of the New Testament in Greek, Novum Jesu Christi . . . Testamentum, presented by him to the Reverend Samuel Hoole, Frankfurt am Main, 1601 ($3,000 to $5,000).

Another highlight in a section of Johnson items is a first edition of his A Dictionary of the English Language, two volumes, London, 1755 ($6,000 to $9,000).


The medical and scientific section of the sale features a run of works on astronomy, such as Alessandro Piccolomini, De la Sfera del Mondo, Libri Quattro, second edition of a treatise on cosmology including an appendix with the first printed star atlas, Venice, 1548 ($2,500 to $3,500); and Thomas Wright, An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe, founded upon the Laws of Nature, London, 1750 ($6,000 to $9,000).

There are also Archimedes, Monumenta omnia mathematica quae extant, first Maurolico edition, Palermo, 1685 ($3,000 to $5,000); Marcello Malpighi, Opera omnia, bound with his Opera posthuma, first editions, London, 1686 and 1697 ($3,000 to $4,000); George Boole, An Investigation into the Laws of Thought, on which are founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, first edition, London, 1854 ($2,000 to $3,000); as well as works on alchemy, Darwin, electricity, obstetrics, witchcraft and more.

Of particular interest among the travel books is a scarce first edition in English of Juan González de Mendoza, The Historie of the Great and Mightie Kingdome of China, containing Antonio de Espejo’s report of his 1583 expedition to New Mexico, and the narrative of Martín Ignacio de Loyola’s circumnavigation, which were among the earliest accounts of Mexico and New Mexico to appear in English, London, 1588 ($20,000 to $30,000). There are also Giovanni Botero, An Historicall Description of the most Famous Kingdomes and Common-Weales in the Worlde, London, 1603 ($2,000 to $3,000); and first editions of John Hawkesworth’s account of Captain Cook’s first voyage, London, 1773 and Edward Dodwell, A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece, during the years 1801, 1805 and 1806, London, 1819 ($1,500 to $2,500 each).

A small run of works devoted to the 15th-century Albanian freedom fighter Skanderbeg includes Jacques de Lavardin, The Historie of George Castriot, surnamed Scanderbeg, King of Albanie, first edition in English, London, 1596 ($2,000 to $3,000).

Other miscellaneous highlights are first editions of Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus theologico-politicus, Hamburg, 1670 ($4,000 to $6,000) and Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, London, 1760-67 ($6,000 to $9,000).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 28. The books will be on public exhibition Saturday, February 23, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, February 25 to Wednesday, February 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, February 28, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated catalogue is 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 Tobias Abeloff at (212) 254-4710, extension 18, or via e-mail at tabeloff@swanngalleries.com.

Live online bidding is also available via Artfact.com.

Top photo: Johannes de Bromyard, Summa praedicantium, a handbook for preachers, Basel, not after 1484.

Bottom photo: Thomas Wright, An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe, London, 1750.

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