Page from the 1475, first printed edition of Ptolemy’s 'Cosmographia' with an inset image of the contemporary wood and leather binding – £185,000 at Forum Auctions.

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Billed as an exceptional, wide marginned and unsophisticated copy, a 1475 edition of the most celebrated geographical treatise of antiquity, Ptolemy’s Cosmographia, was the prize lot in a Forum (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium), sale of July 16.

Originally dating from the 2nd century AD, this famous early description of Europe, Africa and Asia was here making its first appearance in print, using a translation into Latin by Angelo da Scarparia that was made c.1406-09 and a manuscript brought to Italy from Constantinople.

This printed version of the text, as edited by Angelus Vadius and Barnabas Picardus, emerged from the newly established Vicenza press of a German printer, Hermann Liechtenstein, and was in fact the first book of any kind printed in that Italian city.

No maps were present, just four woodcut diagrams, but this version still offers directions for drawing a world map and lists the longitude and latitude of some 8000 locations.

It sold for £185,000.


Illuminated page from the 1496, Florence editio princeps of the Dialogo of Lucian of Samosata, edited by Ianos Laskaris and billed as a masterpiece of early Greek typography – £24,000 at Forum.

Women's rights

Sold online at £9500 was a copy of the earliest work in English devoted to laws relating to women – one that touches on divorce, hermaphroditism, polygamy, promises of marriage, rape and even wooing.

Though sometimes attributed to Sir John Doderidge, this 1632 first of The Lawes Resolutions of Womens Rights… was catalogued by Forum under the name of the editor, Thomas Edgard.

In contemporary calf bindings, firsts of Richard Blackmore’s Prince Arthur, an Heroick Poem of 1695 and King Arthur… of 1697 that were once in John Evelyn’s library – the earlier work inscribed by him – sold at £3500.

Previewed in ATG No 2450, then sold at £5000, was an illustrated notebook kept in the years 1772-73 by a Yorkshire cloth merchant. It noted that the four greatest towns for trade in worsted and woollen goods were also “Four of ye drunkenst towns in England…Bradford & Halifax, Huddersfield and Rochdale”.

Sold at £13,000 was a 1798 first of Edward Jenner’s famous work on immunology, An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae…


A pair of the 51 landscape drawings and tree studies of the Lake District, mostly dating from the 1820s, found in a sketchbook kept by Thomas Hornor (1785-1844), a land surveyor, artist and inventor – £4000 at Forum.

Maps and atlases

Among maps and atlases, one stand-out lot was a 1777 copy of John Chapman and Peter André’s Map of the County of Essex from an Actual Survey. The 26 double-page engraved maps sheets, all fully coloured by hand, are extraordinarily detailed and include the names of country houses and cottages, many of them even identifying the owners’ names.


Bearing a presentation inscription from the author, Erich Maria Remarque, and with its jacket beautifully preserved beneath what may or may not be an original publisher’s tissue jacket guard (not shown), this 1929 first English edition of All Quiet on the Western Front demolished all previous auction records at £18,000 at Forum.

Along with the Remarque record-breaker featured among the illustrations, literary successes included a rare example of Hutchinson’s ‘Colonial’ issue of the 1897, first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Identical in all first-issue points but in a modern red-lettered, yellow cloth binding in imitation of the original, it sold at £6000.

A little browned to the spine, but uncut in the original cloth, an inscribed presentation 1904 first of MR James’ Ghost Stories of an Antiquary sold online for a record £7000. It was a copy he gave to his close friend and fellow writer of ghost stories, the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, essayist and poet, Arthur Benson.