"Principia" Realizes $3.7 Million and Sets Auction Record for a Printed Scientific Book

12_Newton.JPGThe Fine Books & Manuscripts sale totaled $9,433,063, with 82% sold by lot and 91% sold by value, making this the highest total for a various owner sale of Books & Manuscripts at Christie’s. There was active in-room, phone, and online participation from institutions, established collectors, and new buyers with registered bidders from over 25 countries.

The top lot was Sir Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727) Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000), which realized $3,719,500, nearly four times its low estimate and setting a new world auction record for a printed scientific book. 

Other sale highlights included nine lots of correspondence to the Marquis de Chastellux (1734-1788), featuring six letters by George Washington (1731-1799) and three by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), which collectively realized $1,138,750, with single lots more than doubling initial estimates.

The top lot of the selection was George Washington's (1732-1799) Autograph letter signed (“Go: Washington”), Mount Vernon, 25 April, 1 May 1788, to François Jean de Beauvoir, Marquis de Chastellux (estimate: $80,000-120,000), which realized $307,500.

Strong results were achieved for private collections including early botanical books belonging to Cornelius J. Hauck (1893-1967), which sold 90% by lot, and an important collection of major 19th century American authors, formed by Mrs. J. Insley Blair of Far Hills, New Jersey, which sold 92% by lot, with many titles more than doubling initial estimates.

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