Results for Private Press Rarities, Catalogues of Chinese Ceramics, and Modern Art Books


New York—Bidders were drawn to a choice selection of private press books and dazzlingly illustrated works on Chinese porcelain at Swann Galleries’ October 24 auction of Art, Press & Illustrated Books.

Christine von der Linn, Swann’s Art Books specialist, said, “Fine press books and important works on decorative arts ran the show in this sale. Scarce and desirable works on Chinese ceramics made up a fourth of the top lots. The emergence of China as a global power has had a profound influence on the world’s art market and Chinese ceramic art in particular. As authenticity is a growing issue for such luxury goods, these books provide the information and records for determining provenance and legitimacy.”

Among the books on the subject were R.L. Hobson, A Catalogue of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the Collection of Sir Percival David, one of 30 copies on Japan paper, ex-collection Walter T. Shirley, London, 1934, which brought an auction record price of $20,000*.

A second copy of the Hobson work, this one from a limitation of 650 on paper, not vellum, sold for $6,656, while colorfully illustrated ceramics titles included Edgar Gorer and J.F. Blacker, Chinese Porcelain and Hard Stones, in two volumes, London, 1911, $6,400; and J.A.O. Ayers, The Bauer Collection, Volumes 1-7, Geneva, 1968-82, $5,376.


Another record-setting book was Arthur Wesley Dow’s privately printed By Salt Marshes, a tribute to the old North Shore town of Ipswich, Massachusetts, on which he partnered with his childhood friend and poet, Everett Stanley Hubbard, 1908, $6,250.

Private press highlights included the Cranach Press’s The Tragedie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, a unique copy bound for the publisher’s sister, Weimar, 1930, $17,500; and Golden Cockerel Press’s The Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the authorized version of King James I, 1931, $15,360, and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, four volumes, 1928-31, $7,500.

From Ashendene Press was The First Part of the History of the Valorous and Wittie Knight-Errant Don Quixote of the Mancha, Chelsea, 1927-28, $7,250; from Kelmscott Press, The Tale of Beowulf, Hammersmith, 1895, $6,250 and William Caxton’s The History of Reynard the Foxe, 1892, $5,500; and from Pennyroyal Press, Twelve American Writers, with a suite of extra prints by Barry Moser, Easthampton, 1974, $5,750.

The top lot in the auction was André Suarès’s Passion, with 17 color aquatints by Georges Rouault, Paris, 1939, which brought $21,250. Additional featured modern art examples were Sir Thomas Browne’s Urne Buriall and the Garden of Cyrus, with illustrations by Paul Nash, London, 1932, $7,000; Aristophanes’s Lysistrata with illustrations by Pablo Picasso, from the Limited Editions Club, New York, 1934, $6,250; Luis Tomasello’s collaboration with Julio Cortázar, Negro El 10, Paris, 1983, signed by both, $6,144; and Cahiers d’Art, 9e Année 1-4: Joan Miró, in original wrappers, with two color pochoirs, Paris, 1934, $5,632.

Also featuring pochoirs was a lot of 79 issues of the fashion plate Bible, Journal des Dames et des Modes, Paris, June 1912 to August 1914, $8,960.

For complete auction results, an illustrated catalogue, with 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

For further information, and to propose consignments to upcoming auctions of Art, Press & Illustrated Books, please contact Christine von der Linn at (212) 254-4710 ext. 20, or via email at

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: R.L. Hobson, A Catalogue of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the Collection of Sir Percival David, one of 30 copies on Japan paper, London, 1934. Sold for a record $20,000 (including buyer's premium).

Second image: Arthur Wesley Dow and Everett Stanley Hubbard, By Salt Marshes, Massachusetts, 1908. Sold for a record $6,250 (including buyer's premium).

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