Three avian attractions from the natural history content of a recent Sotheby’s (26/20/13.9% buyer’s premium) sale focused on travel books, maps and natural history drew the attention of bidders.
Bid past the high estimate to sell at £65,000 was an 1870-72 first of Daniel Giraud Elliot’s Monograph of the Phasianidae, or Family of the Pheasants. A large folio work, it contains 79 hand-coloured litho plates by Joseph Smit and JG Keulemans after the original illustrations of Joseph Wolf.
An album containing eight original watercolour drawings of birds of prey by Archibald Thorburn almost trebled expectations in selling at £35,000 at the May 13 auction in London.
Executed in the late 19th century and in each instance accompanied by the artist’s notes, they were joined in the album by a loosely inserted example of the finished plate for the goshawk.
Bid to £9000, again well over estimate, was James E Harting’s manuscript copy of an original but anonymous work of c.1575 called The Fawkner’s glass… A perfect waie and order to be observed in chosing & keeping of sparhawkes.
It was lotted with copy No 1 of a printed edition of 100 copies of that work published in 1886 by London dealer Quaritch, who at the time had the original manuscript in stock and had loaned it to Harting to copy.
Quaritch later sold the original manuscript to Tyson Amherst, from whose estate it was subsequently purchased by the famous collector and bibliographer of hunting, hawking and shooting books, CFGR Schwerdt.
At a 1946 sale of Schwerdt’s library it was re-acquired by Quaritch and later sold on to Yale University, where it now resides in the Beinicke Library.
Town and country pursuits
A finely coloured set of five of the famous Braun & Hogenburg town books, the Civitates orbis terrarum, led the bidding in the May 13 Sotheby's sale.
These volumes from the series issued in Köln in the years 1572-1617 lacked 11 of the full complement of 305 plates and showed some staining, spotting, etc, but were bid just over high expectations to sell at £220,000.