1. Remains of the day
A first-edition copy of John Yonge Akerman’s Remains of Pagan Saxondom is included in Harrison-Hiett Rare Book’s latest catalogue “Are We Still Leaving?” and other Tales of Mirth from the Brexit Badlands Part II.
Originally from the UK, dealers Marc and Marcia relocated to the Netherlands in 2017.
“Brexit has rumbled on since then and still seems no closer to resolution,” they say in the catalogue. “Over that time, we have been busy scouring the book fairs and markets of Europe looking for interesting material.”
The catalogue includes works on history and politics, religion, literature and modern firsts.
Akerman’s volume, published by John Russell Smith, London, 1855, bears the signature of Francis Vine, the vicar of Eastington, Gloucestershire, in Victorian times, and a member of the Kent Archaeological Society. This work was probably used in compiling his 1888 publication Caesar in Kent: An Account of the Landing of Julius Caesar and his Battles with the Ancient Britons.
Featuring 40 hand-finished colour prints, Akerman’s volume is offered for £150.
2. ‘More affordable’ antiquities
Charles Ede’s annual Christmas catalogue offers a range of antiquities with prices starting around £90.
Egyptian flint blades, Greek terracotta figures and ancient Roman gold jewellery are all on offer.
One of the highlights is a Roman- Egyptian limestone cippus (pedestal/ pillar with inscription, such as a milestone, boundary marker or funerary ornament) from the 2nd century BC.
It is decorated with creatures and deities stacked up on each other, including Horus (Egyptian god of the sky) standing on a crocodile and scorpion, and the head of Bes (Egyptian god of war), surmounted by a crocodile – an unusual feature known in only one other example.
To the back of the piece is nonsense text – possibly pseudohieroglyphics – beneath a vignette with a cursory depiction of Isis suckling Horus among the marshes.
Available for £4900, it is catalogued with a provenance to Gustave Mustaki of Egypt and was exported from Egypt to the UK under licence c.1950.
3. Street life
John Thomson’s 1877 book Street Life in London was a pioneering work of photojournalism.
Thomson (1837-1921) started out recording his travels in the Far East, but joined forces with the ‘radical’ journalist Adolphe Smith Headingly (fl.1870-1920) to produced this document of the capital. It captured the lives of Londoners through documentary prose, staged but powerful photos and interviews with the subjects.
Probably the most notable image is The Crawler depicting a destitute old woman. Other images also depict the impoverished and labouring residents of the city.
First published in 12 monthly parts, it was then made into a book.
A first-edition copy is offered for £20,000 as part of the Peter Harrington Christmas catalogue.
4. Simply the chest
A pine folk art marriage chest is available for £3500 in London dealer Robert Young’s latest winter catalogue. Measuring 4ft 5in (1.35m) wide, the chest features its original decoration, polychrome painted panels.
It was created in the Austrian Empire and bears the inscription Anno. Eliza Barbara Sauauara. 1782.
There are many other examples of folk art in the catalogue including primitive furniture, cockerel weathervanes and naïve paintings.
5. Bull and Beetles
The Illustrators: The British Art of Illustration 1865-2019 runs at Chris Beetles Gallery in London until January 4 and is accompanied by a 204-page colour catalogue. Works range in price from £250-75,000.
They include The Court of the Caliph by British illustrator and photographer René Bull (1869-1942).
Though initially planning to train as an engineer, Bull met the French satirist Caran d’Ache in Paris, and began taking drawing lessons from him before returning to the UK to work for various magazines.
Bull went on to create visual records of international conflicts such as the Armenian massacres of 1894-96, the famine and frontier wars in India of 1896-98 and the Sudan campaign of 1898.
He used photography, film and drawing, earning acclaim and medals before being invalided out of the Second Boer War in 1900.
Later, when he started illustrating books, he drew on his experience of exotic locations to inform his compositions.
He completed Court of the Caliph for The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a Victorian translation of historic Persian poems which he illustrated in 1913.