Superlatives for Purchas’ Pilgrimes
A first-edition copy of Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625-26) headlines Forum Auctions’ Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper sale on May 27.
The massive five-volume collection of travel stories, written by the Anglican cleric Samuel Purchas (c.1577-1626), includes a number of important maps, including, in Volume IV, those dealing with America and the West Indies.
This ‘superlative copy’ once belonged to Narcissus Luttrell (1657-1732), the historian, diarist and biographer.
Links to British golf courses
PBA Galleries of California is holding a sale devoted to Golf Books and Memorabilia on May 13.
Among the lots on offer is this copy of British Golf Links edited by G Horace Hutchinson. The book, a first trade edition published in 1897 by JS Virtue, is an account of 51 of the finest British golf courses, plus three in France, illustrated with numerous photos and engravings.
This copy is inscribed with the monogram of the editor on the title page. The estimate is $400-600.
Heraldry and chivalry
Christie’s Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale in King Street on July 14 includes this heraldic manual made in late 15th century northern France or Flanders. Elegantly written in French and finely illuminated on vellum, it contains the rules of heraldry and over 800 blazoned armorials of the French nobility and Arthurian knights.
Donum Authoris: presenting Newton’s Opticks in Latin
This presentation copy of Isaac Newton’s 1706 Optice: sive de reflexionibus, refractionibus, inflexionibus & coloribus lucis libri tres carries a guide of £30,000-50,000 at Bonhams’ Knightsbridge books sale on June 24.
Bound in contemporary calf (the upper cover now detached), it was given by Newton to John Wickins and is inscribed in Wickins’ hand Donum Authoris.
Although little is known of Wickins’ life, he was from 1665-83 Newton’s roommate at Trinity College, Cambridge, where they were both Fellows. He acted as Newton’s assistant, copying up his notes and turning their rooms into a laboratory.
The first edition of Newton’s Opticks appeared in 1704 in English with this Latin version printed in 1706.
Jenner on vaccinia
The sale at Dominic Winter in South Cerney in Gloucestershire on June 16 includes this unpublished letter written by Edward Jenner (1749-1823) on April 15, 1802, to the Yorkshire physician John Glover Loy (1774-1865). The text over three pages amounts to an enthusiastic and triumphant response to Loy’s pamphlet, An account of some experiments on the origin of the cowpox published in 1801.
Jenner writes: “I know of no Production on the Vaccine subject which has afforded me more satisfaction, since it was first brought before the Public, than yours. It has effectively put a stop to the sneers of those little minded Persons who think everything is impossible which does not come within the narrow sphere of their own comprehension.”
Loy’s pamphlet was the independent evidence in support of a horsepox role in the prevention of smallpox and his own early assertions about the horse origin of vaccinia. The letter comes by direct descent from his family with expectations of £5000-8000.
The first of Harry Potter
A first edition, first impression of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is to be sold in Tennants’ Books, Maps and Ephemera sale in Leyburn on July 28.
This sought-after volume in exceptional condition has an estimate of £20,000-30,000.
The book is one of 500 case-bound copies printed in the first run, and it demonstrates all the requisite points of identification: the copyright page is dated 1997, with the author credited as Joanne Rowling; page 53 has the error ‘1 wand’ repeated; and the rear cover features the misprint ‘Wizardry and Witchcraft’ (for ‘Witchcraft and Wizardry’) and the typo ‘Philospher’s Stone’.
And for my next trick
This is the heavily annotated typescript for Harry Houdini’s last literary work: an exposé of the new spiritualism titled Magician Among the Spirits.
The 408 leaves and 175,000 words, complete with Houdini’s corrections and those of his assistant Oscar Teale, restores a great deal of material that was edited out when the finished version (running to just 75,000 words) was published by Harpers in 1924. An additional typed letter from Teale to Houdini declares: “It seems a pity, that your labor should be minimized for commercial ends…”
Last sold at Swann Galleries in 1997 as part of the Milbourne Christopher sale (his bookplate appears to the binding), it comes for sale at Bonhams New York on June 17 with hopes of $20,000-30,000.
From Gads Hill to Aberdeen
Keys’ Books & Ephemera sale in Aylsham on June 9-10 includes this November 27, 1869, letter from Charles Dickens at Gads Hill Place to Aberdeen University. In it the author declines the invitation for his name to be put forward for the post of Lord Rector of the university.
The lot – unusual, as much of Dickens’ correspondence from this late period in his life was created with the help of secretaries – includes the envelope addressed in Dickens’ hand with a ‘Penny Red’ stamp and a CD seal. Estimate £1500-2000.
Catching prints online
Forum Auctions conducts a May 20 online sale titled Images of Angling: the David Beazley Collection of Angling Prints. Among the earlier works are three engravings (one shown above) after Francis Barlow published by Wenceslaus Hollar c.1671.
Debunking The Turk
Bellmans' sale of Printed Books and Manuscripts in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, on July 15 includes this 1821 first edition copy of Robert Willis’ exposé on Wolfgang von Kempelen’s celebrated Automaton Chess Player.
Many who saw it had been convinced that, through its mechanism alone, the chess-playing ‘Mechanical Turk’ was able to hold its own against human opponents, including, reputedly, Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. In this work, however, Willis, a Cambridge professor and mechanical engineer, explained what some had already suspected: that the mechanism could conceal a hidden human operator.
The full title of the publication is An Attempt to Analyse the Automaton Chess Player of Mr. de Kempelen. With an Easy Method of Imitating the Movements of that Celebrated Figure. Illustrated by Original Drawings. To which is Added, a Copious Collection of the Knight’s Moves over the Chess Board.
Remembering the 54th Massachusetts
Skinner in Massachusetts is holding an online sale of historic manuscripts and books running from May 13-25.
It includes this 1863 American Civil War diary by Lincoln Ripley Stone, surgeon to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
The regiment was composed of free black soldiers and achieved fame through the bravery its men exhibited at the attack on Battery Wagner on the night of July 18, 1863, suffering casualties of over 40% of the men in the process.
The leather-bound diary records daily activities, movements and observations of the regiment, including the Battery Wagner action, during the 1863 campaign season, beginning in late May and continuing to the end of the year.
It is offered with two drafts of Lincoln Ripley Stone’s recollections of the 1861 and 1862 campaigns and an albumen photograph of Stone seated on a porch surrounded by several people including African-American women.
The lot has a provenance to the Charles Foster Batchelder III estate, upstate New York, formerly of Natick, Massachusetts.
Cleveley on Cook’s third voyage
Chiswick Auctions’ sale of Books & Works on Paper on June 30 includes this original hand-coloured engraving from 1797 titled View of Charlotte Sound in New Zealand showing the Resolution and Discovery at anchor in what is actually Matavai Bay, Tahiti.
This is one of four plates from John Cleveley’s well-known series depicting Captain James Cook’s third voyage to the Pacific based on drawings made during the voyage by his brother James, who was a carpenter aboard Resolution.
April 19, 1865: an ‘executive’ pass to Lincoln’s funeral
A selection of Americana & Political items from the collection of Tom Huston, who has been collecting for more than 60 years, will go under the hammer at Heritage in Dallas on May 15.
The 438-lot sale includes 37 lots relating to Abraham Lincoln, among them this Executive Mansion pass to his funeral inscribed South Admit the Bearer to the Executive Mansion On Wednesday, the 19th of April, 1865. As funeral observances were limited to officials and dignitaries, such passes are very rare (it is said that fewer than 600 were issued to enter the Executive Mansion from various points). The pass, printed on thick paper measuring 3¼ x 5in (8 x 13cm), has an estimate of $2000.
Aristotle in the 13th century
A 13th century vellum manuscript compilation of Aristotelian texts on logic will be one of the highlights of a sale to be held by Ketterer Kunst in Hamburg on May 31.
The Logica Vetus (Old Logic) was made in France c.1250 and contains the primary texts for logical education throughout the entire medieval era. It features a script with explanatory diagrams as well as marginal annotations. The manuscript was most likely used at the Paris University, one of the first medieval institutes of higher education and acknowledged for its Aristotelian studies.
It has a provenance to the Jesuits of Millstatt, Austria (an erased inscription appears at the top of the first leaf) and to the Count Oswald Seilern collection, sold by Christie’s London in March 2003. Estimate €60,000.
Looking down on Central Park
This hand-finished, colour-tinted lithograph of 1874 by George Schlegel, New York, taken from Central Park is an unusual bird’s eye view of Manhattan.
The perspective is set from Belvedere Castle and it is possible to see many recognisable features of Central Park such as The Ramble, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain and Bow Bridge as well as buildings and architectural elements which no longer stand.
The rare lithograph is one of the lots in Swann Galleries’ June 3 sale of Maps and Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books in New York, where it has an estimate of $4000-6000.
Taddy cigarette cards
The auction on May 20 at Reeman Dansie in Colchester includes a complete set of 20 unissued Taddy cigarette cards known as ‘Clowns & Circus Artistes’. These are some of the most sought-after cards among collectors and carry an estimate of £5000-£8000.
Established in 1740, Taddy & Co had become a major British tobacco firm by the end of the 19th century but abruptly ceased trading two decades later. In the 1920s the cigarette industry went on strike and the Taddy factory workers joined in even though they were already being paid more than the unions were demanding. Company owner Gilliat Edward Hatfeild threatened to shut down the company if his staff failed to return to work.
The Taddy workers did not back down so Hatfeild carried out his threat.
Star Wars script
The sale of Autographs & Memorabilia at Chiswick Auctions on July 7 includes a lot relating to the production of the first Star Wars movie in 1976-77. Entered for sale by a vendor whose father was a sound technician at Elstree Studios, it includes a typed fourth draft of the original Star Wars script featuring the original working title The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills’.
The 148 page script is dated January 1976 and will be sold with an autograph book featuring the signatures of cast members and an invitation from 20th Century Fox to a specialscreening of Star Wars at the Dominion Cinema on Tottenham Court Road.