Mercator and Hondius Atlas Highlights Bonhams Auction

San Francisco—The winter Fine Books & Manuscripts auction, February 17 at Bonhams in San Francisco brought a successful $716,038. It was led by the French edition of Gerard Mercator and Jodocus Hondius’ Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de frabrica mundi et fabricati figura, 1619, which brought $27,500, ahead of a $12,000-18,000 estimate.


A rare example of a Charles Schulz annual Peanuts football strip also sold very well, at the highest end of its estimate, bringing $25,000. The 8-panel Sunday strip, from October 16, 1983, features Charlie Brown overcoming the compulsion to try and kick a football Lucy holds for him, only to encounter several other members of the gang tempting him with footballs of their own.

An example of a late 15th/early 16th century Book of Hours, from a California institution, brought $21,250, far surpassing its estimate of $7,000-9,000. Various additional lots soared past their estimates, including a first edition example of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. A Poem in Ten Books, 1669, which achieved $16,250 (est. $6,000-9,000); seven illustrations on board of anthropomorphic cats by Edmund Caldwell, created for the Marcus Ward & Co. publication Three Little Kittens, which realized $12,500 (est. $500-700); and a two volume Atlas universel dressé sur les meilleures cartes modernes, 1784, by Robert De Vaugondy, Pietro Santini, and others, which took in $11,875 (est. $4,000-6,000).


Dr. Catherine Williamson, Department Director, Fine Books & Manuscripts, Bonhams, said she felt the sale was a good indication of how strong the market will be in 2013. She commented, “Both private buyers and members of the trade are starting the year buying in earnest.”


Notable in the auction was an autograph letter from Thomas Jefferson, sold for $13,750 (est. $10,000-15,000), and an example of David Roberts’ The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia, 1855-56, sold for $15,000 (est. $8,000-12,000).


A collection of fine press by Ashendene, Doves, Essex House, Grabhorn and Kelmscott Presses also sold well, including such star lots as The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs by William Morris, Kelmscott Press, sold for $9,375 (est. $5,000-7,000) and Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory, Ashendene Press, sold for $7,250 (est. $4,000-6,000).


Rounding out the sale’s highlights was a triple-issue art journal Derrière le miroir: Paris, by Marc Chagall, featuring his Paris-themed works exhibited at Maeght in 1954, which brought $11,875; and an archive of 83 fashion designs from the House of Dior, with notes and fabric swatches by Marc Bohan, prepared for an American debutante after she moved from California to New York in 1966, which achieved $11,875 (est. $4,000-6,000).

Auction Guide