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Published in 1762, it presented fine impressions of the 43 engraved plates, among them the fold-out centrepiece shown above, a plan of Rome’s Campus Martius, or Field of Mars.

A four-volume 1776 edition of Piranesi’s landmark survey of Le Antichita Romane made £23,000, while a 1751, second edition of Canaletto’s engraved views of Venice sold at £14,000.

Systems go


One of four folding chiaroscuro woodcut plates, printed in black and dark and light red, from the copy of Aselli’s De Lactibus… sold at £20,000 by Forum.

Gaspare Aselli’s De Lactibus…, published in Milan in 1627, was both the first book with anatomical illustrations in colour and the first scientific study of the lymphatic system. In a good period vellum binding, the copy sold by Forum for £20,000 bore the ownership inscriptions of two early Mantuan physicians.

Two works making their first appearance in English, Einstein’s Relativity. The Special and General Theory (1920) and Freud’s Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1922), were distinguished by both the rarity of their essentially typographic yellow dust jackets and record prices of £4000 and £3200 respectively.

Forum could trace only one other copy at auction of the Einstein book in the past 20 years, and no other example of the Freud book at all.

An inscribed copy of James Joyce’s Dubliners of 1914, estimated at £100,000-150,000 did not get away, but a 1918 first of his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man did manage a mid-estimate £17,000.

Both were inscribed for Beatrice Randegger (née Richett), the daughter of a prominent Jewish lawyer, financier, industrialist and politician of Trieste, who was probably one of Joyce’s private pupils during the time he spent teaching there.

Chess cheat

Two ephemeral pieces relating to the famous ‘Mechanical Turk’, or automaton chess player with which Hungarian-born writer and inventor Wolfgang von Kempen astonished and deceived so many people in the latter part of the 18th century, sold at £4500 and £3200.

Constructed in 1770 to impress Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, it was later toured around Europe and visited London in 1784.

The more expensive broadside related to its exhibition in St James’s Street, next to Brooks’s, where, along with a ‘speaking child’ machine, it could be viewed for half a guinea. The other broadside, similar but not identical in its wording, referred to an exhibition in Savile Row, Burlington Gardens.

In 2018 Forum sold another very similar broadside for £9000.