Books and Works on Paper


Maths textbook keeps up with the times

03 July 2017

The “oldest mathematical textbook still in common use today”, according to Printing and the Mind of man, is that written around 300BC by the Greek mathematician, Euclid of Alexandria.

A lot that should jog the memory

03 July 2017

One of the odder lots I have stumbled across in the many June book sales is a worn and soiled 12pp autograph catalogue, or calendar of “35 nude male races held on Kersal Moor [near Manchester] between 1777 and 1811”.


Simply the breast: deluxe Duchamp

03 July 2017

Art books in a Ketterer Kunst (20% buyer’s premium) sale of May 22 included one of 15 deluxe copies of a 1950 edition of Harry Roskolenko’s Paris Poems, containing an original watercolour by Zau Wou-Ki and an extra suite of his lithographed illustrations. It sold at €42,000 (£36,240).


Irish interest for Joyce and O’Brien

03 July 2017

Promoted in a catalogue issued by Fonsie Mealy (20/25% buyer’s premium) for its May 20 sale as something “for the collector who has (almost) everything”, an autograph section from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake was sold at €27,000 (£23,480).


First mention of Poirot detected

03 July 2017

Agatha Christie’s books were much in evidence at a Keys (17.5% buyer’s premium) sale of June 7-8, among them a 1921 first of The Mysterious Affair at Styles.


Why three Thomases are better than one

03 July 2017

'Tres Thomae…', by Thomas Stapleton, a leading Catholic theologian, is a set of three biographies of saints who shared his own first name. An exile from England, Stapleton was Professor of Theology at Douai at the time and his book was published there.


Frogs and toads, fairy tales and fantasies from illustrators

03 July 2017

Last offered at auction at Parke-Bernet in New York in 1945, as part of the famed Bronson Winthrop collection, a drawing made by John Tenniel for Alice through the Looking-Glass made $16,000 (£12,600) at Sotheby’s New York (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on June 13 – though the saleroom had hoped it might make twice that sum.


German wounds book makes the cut at auction

03 July 2017

This rather unsettling woodcut illustration shown above, an almost surreal depiction of an amputation, is taken from from a 1515, Grüninger of Strasbourg edition of Hieronymous Brunschwig’s Das buch der wund Artzeny. Handwirkung der Cirurgia.


Small and simple miniature book... but big price at auction

26 June 2017

An exceptionally rare miniature book, a 'Kalendarium Evangelia' printed by Christopher Plantin in Antwerp in 1570, measuring just 35mm high appeared at a recent Bonhams sale.


London auction call to arms

26 June 2017

Showing some internal staining, browning and other soiling, this 1517 Lyon printing of one of the works of GB Castiglione, a humanist and sometime tutor to the future Elizabeth I, sports a contemporary English binding of blind-stamped calf.


Hunting tales tracked down at auction

26 June 2017

Some of the more successful lots in a June 1 sale at PBA Galleries (20/15% buyer’s premium) of the first portion of the Richard Beagle collection of angling and sporting books were scarce accounts of early hunting trips in the Yukon and Wyoming.


The bumper book sales season

26 June 2017

As in many previous years, the months of June and July signal the arrival of large numbers of important book, manuscript and related sales.


Pioneering study of native Americans

26 June 2017

Karl Bodmer, a Swiss artist, was engaged by Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied to provide a pictorial record of his 1833-34 travels among the Indians of the Upper Missouri regions of North America.


How sketches liven up plain sailing

26 June 2017

For a number of years now ship’s logs have made good prices at auction. Those featuring naval engagements, significant encounters in foreign lands, or with added, if amateur illustration – even logs kept on whalers that use simple sketches to record a catch – offer something extra.


The surrender that led to Irish independence

26 June 2017

“In order to prevent the further slaughter of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the members of the Provisional Governments present at Head Quarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender…”


Initial ideas on printing the Bible

19 June 2017

Featuring more than 70 decorative or historiated initials in full contemporary colour, a fine copy of a Biblia germanica printed by Gunther Zainer of Augsburg in 1475-76 sold for a record €120,000 (£103,450) in a Ketterer Kunst (20% buyer’s premium) sale.

Avicenna on metaphysics in 1495

19 June 2017

Cleaned, restored and recently rebound in brown buckskin, together with a 1966 reprint, a rare 1495 Venetian first of Avicenna’s Metaphysica made €26,000 (£22,260) in a Reiss & Sohn (18% buyer’s premium) sale. The price was slightly under estimate but a record nonetheless.


Early tastes of a Victorian bibliophile

19 June 2017

The library of William O’Brien, an Irish-born QC and High Court judge in the Victorian era, sold for a premium-inclusive £2.8m at Sotheby’s (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on June 7.


First Fleet footsteps in the Australian continent

19 June 2017

Written by Judge Advocate David Collins, secretary, close friend and adviser to Governor Arthur Phillip, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales of 1798-1802 was the last of the so-called ‘First Fleet’ journals to be published.


The words on the street - record for Sinclair Lewis' 1920 first at Swann

12 June 2017

Condition leaves a little to be desired, but the spine of this copy of Sinclair Lewis’ 'Main Street' and the matching details on the jacket mark it out as a 1920 first, published by Harcourt, Brace & Howe of New York.