Making a third auction outing in around 20 years, the most expensive lot in the May 14-17 Spring Miscellany sale at Sotheby’s New York (25/2/13.9% buyer’s premium) was a first state example of an important early map of Texas.
With a seemingly contemporary manuscript map of Matagorda and Lavaca Bays on the back, it is one of only two first issue examples of David H Burr’s Texas map of 1833, published by Colton of New York, to feature in auction records of the past 50 years.
In 1999 it made $55,000 at Sotheby’s New York, but two years later reached $150,000 in a sale held by Austin, Texas, dealer and auctioneer Dorothy Sloan, some of whose detailed catalogue notes were used, with permission, in the Sotheby’s catalogue. This time around it made $120,000 (£98,360).
Woodcut ‘by Dürer’
A woodcut world map issued in Vienna in 1781, but owing its seemingly far earlier appearance to the fact that it was printed from what were then only recently rediscovered blocks of 1515, realised $50,000 (£40,985).
This is a map believed to have been produced by Albrecht Dürer in collaboration with Johann Stabius, astronomer to the court of Maximilian I, as a pendant to a pair of celestial charts on which they had also collaborated. No copy of the original is known, but even these late 18th century versions are rare. The blocks are today housed in Vienna’s Albertina Museum.
Tolstoy come to light
One of 24 handsomely bound deluxe sets of the works of Tolstoy, part of a Scribner’s of New York edition of 1899-1904, made $20,000 (£16,395).
Each set contained a manuscript leaf signed by the writer – in this instance a lengthy quotation from his 1893 short story Walk in the Light While There Is Light.
Many other lots came from the sporting and travel library of the late ‘Jake’ Johnson, among them several with Anglo-Indian origins. One such, sold at $5500 (£4510), was the sketchbook of a Lieutenant Thomas Eden Blackwell of the 13th Light Infantry, whose 68 ink and pencil sketches featured subjects such as Arabian horses, Burmese monasteries, Indian culture and architecture.
Other Johnson lots were of particular North American interest, like Joseph McAleenan’s Hunting with Rifle and Camera in the Canadian Rockies. One of just 20 copies privately printed for distribution among friends, it made $6500 (£5330).
Literary lots included a first of Henrietta Temple, an 1837 novel by the writer who became the then newly crowned Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli.
Bid to a record $7000 (£5740), this copy of his three-decker tale came in a later full morocco gilt binding by Bedford and was extra-illustrated with an engraved portrait frontispiece by D’Orsay.
It was inscribed by its author for Mary Monckton Boyle, Countess of Cork – the model for ‘Lady Bellair’ in his tale.