Books & Periodicals

Material in this specialist market ranges from the early printed works of the Gutenberg Press and William Caxton right through to Modern First Editions and now up to signed copies of Harry Potter. Condition and rarity are the keys to this sector.


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Holmes and the Sussex Vampire

29 June 2004

AS a follow-up to last week’s report on the Conan Doyle collection sold at King Street in May, I bring belated news of The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.

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A true treat for Custer buffs...

22 June 2004

AN autograph sale held by Swanns on April 29 included 11 lots from the George Armstrong Custer collection formed by the late Dr. Elizabeth Atwood, a vet and well-known Custer buff. Seen right is a copy print of a larger image by Timothy O’Sullivan, inscribed “Truly yours G.A. Custer”, which sold for $14,000 (£7955).

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Whose Hieroglyphica Mexicana?

22 June 2004

VALUED at £1000-1500 in a June 29 sale at Bonhams is a bound manuscript entitled ‘Hieroglyphica Mexicana, or, an Introduction into the Origin, Nature and Meaning of the Ancient Paintings by the Semi-Civilized Nations of America, with Sketches of their Languages, History, Arts & Sciences’.

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Frankenstein and the fireproof book

22 June 2004

A TYPED first draft of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer in which he uses real names of characters and places, not the pseudonyms of the finished book, carried a $100,000-150,000 estimate in a May 27 modern literature sale held in San Francisco by PBA Galleries but it joined a long list of unsold lots.

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The John Greaves connection encourages a £520,000 bid for Copernicus

22 June 2004

THE 463 lots that made up the first portion of science books from the Earl of Macclesfield’s library at Shirburn Castle, sold by Sotheby’s on June 10, covered just the letters A-C, but the contents of this extraordinary library, virtually untouched since the 18th century, are such that even this starter helping raised a premium-inclusive total of £3.57m.

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Garzoni on mental illness

22 June 2004

TOP read in a May 20 sale held by Freemans of Philadelphia was one of 90 sets of the 37-vol. ‘Memorial’ edition of the writings of Mark Twain published by Harpers in 1929, which, in original three-quarter crushed green levant morocco gilt and marbled boards, sold at $12,000 (£6820).

Fords, Furness and Ffrendes

16 June 2004

TWO BOX files of Ford manufacturers’ catalogues, advertising material and other ephemera of 1920s and ’30s motoring interest brought a bid of £1550 in a May 19 sale held by Thomson Roddick & Medcalf and the only other lot to reach four figures was a collection of some 370 postcards relating almost entirely to Ulverston and Furness.

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Heath Robinson’s asbestos fun

16 June 2004

IN a May 18 sale held by Tennants of Leyburn, a copy of the 1902, first trade edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, bearing a neat inscription that was added 90 years later, was lotted with a copy of Jack and the Beanstalk in English hexameters by Hallam Tennyson and illustrated by Randolph Caldecott [1886?] and sold for £1000.

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Fraktur record well and truly broken by $330,000 nightingale

16 June 2004

DECORATED manuscripts known as fraktur, made in various parts of America but primarily associated with Pennsylvania’s German communities, are something very little known in Britain, but on the home auction scene they are big money spinners indeed, as the example from an April 24 Americana sale held by Freemans of Philadelphia shows.

The Wright stuff – pamphlet soars to £2500

16 June 2004

FOUND in a box of aviation books that was brought into the salerooms of Sworders of Stansted Mountfitchet following a North London house clearance was a little pamphlet entitled Experiments and Observations in Soaring Flight.

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Swedish history bound for a French king

16 June 2004

A VERITABLE feast awaits lovers of early bindings at Christie’s on July 7, when they present the first part of the Michel Wittock collection, a 118-lot sale of Renaissance bindings, but seen right is something rather special from their sale of June 2.

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8 Savoys

10 June 2004

SOLD for $1300 (£730) in a May 20 sale held by Freemans of Philadelphia was a set in original wrappers of all eight issues of The Savoy (1896) with its cover designs and other illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley.

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Emma the leading lady and still a bestseller...

10 June 2004

EMMA was the leading lady in a May 19 sale held by Dreweatt Neate of Newbury, an 1816 first of Jane Austen’s novel selling at £6000. Catalogued as bound in both contemporary half red morocco and later boards, it retained the half title to Vol. III only and showed a little spotting and staining. It also bore the booklabels of Gilbert Bethune of Balfour.

An unfinished Chaucer

10 June 2004

IN an unfinished craft binding of crushed red morocco with full doublures, the lower cover with borders of inlaid blue and gilt pointillé cornerpiece, a paper copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer of 1896 was sold for £17,000 to an American dealer in a May 6 sale held by Bonhams.

On the origin of a couple of Austens

10 June 2004

BOUND in half calf gilt and marbled boards, the three-vol., 1813 second edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that sold for £4600 in a May 21 sale held by John Bellman of Billingshurst bore the pencil initials H.D. for Horace Darwin (Charles Darwin’s son) and his bookplates were to be found in a copy of the 1818, four-vol. first edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in a similar but less well-preserved binding that sold at £2500.

Concerning Biggles and the witches, cookery, Egypt and corkscrews

10 June 2004

THE estimates were rather modest, but prices paid for some of the Biggles books offered as part of a May 21 sale held by Keys of Aylsham bode well for the Biggles collection that Dominic Winter are to sell on June 24. In Aylsham, Hamilton copies of The Black Peril of c.1936, in soiled blue cloth, and The Cruise of the Condor, an undated Ace series title with adverts for Spring 1937, were valued at around £40 apiece but sold for £1050 and £480 respectively.

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Daimonomageia discussed…

10 June 2004

AN undated medical volume offered as part of a May 8 antiques sale held by Fieldings of Stourbridge brought a bid of £430.

Rupert and the plans

10 June 2004

THE jacket was torn with loss and four of the five paintbox pictures had been partly coloured, but a copy of The New Adventures of Rupert, the 1936, first Rupert annual, was sold at £580 in a May 13 sale held by Greenslade Taylor Hunt.

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Russian art, literature & ballet

10 June 2004

AT the tail-end of a 500-lot sale of Russian pictures and other works of art held by Sotheby’s on May 26 was a small selection of photograph albums and books, two of which are illustrated and briefly described here.

From Willa to Yehudi

10 June 2004

A MAY 11 sale held by Sotheby’s Olympia to dispose of property from the collections of the late Lord and Lady Menuhin included a collection of material by and about the American writer Willa Cather, who was a great friend of Marutha Menuhin, Yehudi’s mother, and a close friend to all the Menuhin children. She also wrote many letters to Marutha, but all of these were burned after her death, in accordance with the writer’s will.

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