A folio is a term used for a book made of individual sheets of paper, usually folded to produce two leaves or four pages. Folios were a common format for early printed books in the late 15th and early 16th century and many of the most valuable books on the market today were originally published as folios.

These include the early editions of the compendiums of Shakespeare’s plays known as the First Folio, Second Folio, Third Folio etc, as well as John James Audubon’s The Birds of America first published in 1827 and sometimes referred to as a ‘double elephant folio’ due to its size.

Faerie Queen folio

29 September 2004

HANDSOMELY bound in dark crimson morocco gilt in the 19th century, a 1609, first folio edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, the titles to the two parts with large and elaborate woodcut devices (both with small amounts of early colouring) and containing numerous woodcut head- and tailpieces incorporating various royal devices and symbols, made £1740 (Powell) in a Dominic Winter sale of July 21.


Philip Miller’s Figures total $14,000

29 September 2004

SOMETHING I overlooked when compiling my principal natural history round-ups of the summer was a copy of ‘Philip Miller’s Gardener’s Dictionary’ – or at least that was how it was described in a 10 word entry in the catalogue of a May 21-23 sale held by Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

A natural history selection

29 September 2004

IN Antiques Trade Gazette No.1655, I illustrated a first octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds of America, 1840-44, that sold for $48,000 (£25,920) in a May sale held by Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In their August 21-22 sale they had another, half morocco bound and rather better looking set – one originally sold by Clarendon Harris, a book dealer of Worcester, Mass – which made $64,000 (£35,200).


Extra-etched and bound

10 June 2004

THIS punting scene by Whistler is one of some 3000 additional original and reproduction etchings and engravings, mostly full-page and many mounted and titled in ink as well as being mounted, where possible opposite the relevant text, that were to be found in an extra-illustrated 1880, third edition of Philip G. Hamerton’s Etchings & Etchers seen at Bonhams on May 6.

The indomitable Herr Kerner and his 144 bunches of grapes…

05 July 2002

It is believed that only two copies of Johann Simon Kerner’s Le Raisin, ses espèces et variétées… were completed, but then this German botanist did make it hard work for himself in choosing to illustrate it with original watercolours.

Arne’s co-opera(tive) ‘Love in a Village’

18 February 2002

BOOKS played a fairly minor part in the first Newbury antiques sale of the year at Dreweatt Neate on 30 January – one that raised in excess of £1.5m, a record for the Berkshire saleroom – but they did get the proceedings under way, and the very first lot in the catalogue, a misbound and now disbound and browned copy of Love in a Village, a comic opera as performed at The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden... showed the way in selling for a double estimate £200.

Henri II makes his bookmark

26 February 2001

FRANCE: A SET of 56 folio engraved plates by the Renaissance draughtsman and engraver Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (Paris c.1560), showing various Renaissance furniture designs ranging from buffets and tables to wardrobes and beds, below right, tripled hopes on Fr70,000 (£6800) in Chartres on January 21.