The rare first edition of Stackelberg’s Costumes et Usages des Peuples de la Grece Moderne, with its hand-coloured engraved plates sold for £22,000 at Forum.

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Following sales of plate books from the Bobins collection earlier this year at Christie’s New York and London (see ATG No 2607), Forum (26/25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) offered another selection on September 26.

The auction Colour Plate Books from the Library of Norman Bobins presented 259 lots from the library of the Chicago collector with an emphasis on 18th and 19th century colour plate works.


Johann Reinhardt’s Collection de Costumes Suisses des XXII Cantons, with 46 fine hand-coloured aquatint plates depicting traditional Swiss costume sold for £4800 at Forum.

This selection covered a wide spectrum of subjects from topography, sporting, and children’s books to military, costume, art, literature and history.

Forum’s international head of books Rupert Powell commented that “before the sale we were concerned about the amount of colour plate material on the market but in the end the market loved it. The printed catalogue generated a lot of interest and enquiries for condition reports and viewing requests; there was a lot of private buying.”


This delightful collection of 24 caricatures was issued by Mary and Matthew Darly, a husband and wife team of artist-publishers. Estimated at £4000-6000, it sold for £7000 at Forum.

German high points

Works by German artists appeared to take many of the top spots in the auction.

The highest price was achieved for a first edition of Otto Magnus von Stackelberg’s Costumes et Usages des Peuples de la Grece Moderne, which sold for £22,000 hammer against an estimate of £20,000-30,000.

This edition with hand-coloured engraved plates was published by Stackelberg himself in Rome in 1825. The work proved popular and was imitated and copied with pirated lithographed editions soon appearing in Italy, England and France.

The author had been inspired to publish these plates following his extensive travels and archaeology in Greece from 1810-14. Stackelberg had met Byron in Athens, and travelled with Cockerell, Haller von Hallerstein, Foster and others in excavating and painting at various Greek archaeological sites, notably at Aegina and Bassae.


There were no previous auction records for Friedrich Eibner’s Vues d’Espagne, which was published in 1867. The Bobins copy set the record at £7000 at Forum.

Another travel highlight in the sale was Vues d’Espagne, 1867, a large folio of 35 chromolithographed views after watercolours by the German artist Friedrich Eibner (1826-1877).

Eibner predominantly painted architectural subjects and produced this album for Prince Aleksandr Meshchersky following a tour of Spain in 1860-61 and this publication is considered Eibner’s finest work.

No complete copy has been sold at auction in decades and, estimated at £2000-3000, this work more than tripled its low estimate in selling for £7000 hammer.

One of the scarcest and most desirable German colour-plate books on gardens is Victor Heideloff’s Ansichten des Herzoglich Württembergischen Landsitzes Hohenheim, published in Nuremberg between 1795-1800, which depicts the gardens of the duke of Württemberg’s estate in Hohenheim.

The Bobins copy was a first edition in the original six parts with a hand-coloured engraved plan and 37 hand-coloured aquatint plates.

Charles Eugene, duke of Württemberg (1728-93), obtained the former manor of Bombast von Hohenheim for his mistress and later wife Franziska von Hohenheim in 1768. The estate was reconstructed in an English fashion by court architect Reinhard F Heinrich Fischer.

Many follies and monuments in the Baroque and antique styles were added to the estate before the duke’s death in 1793. Though many of the buildings later fell into disrepair, several were ultimately preserved and now form the botanic gardens of the University of Hohenheim.

The last copy of this publication to appear at auction was an incomplete copy sold in 1965, so it may be no surprise to learn that the Bobins copy estimated at £4000-6000 sold for nearly triple the low estimate at £11,000.

Rare Lakes appearance


The Bobins library contained a deluxe edition of James Baker Pyne’s magnificent work The English Lake District (1853) and set a new auction record at £7000 at Forum.

From an English garden to the English Lakes: in 1853 Thomas Agnew and sons of Manchester published a set of 24 fine lithographed views by the artist James Baker Pyne titled The English Lake District.

The Bobins copy was an example of the rare deluxe issue with the title and plates all finely coloured by hand and mounted on card.

This monumental publication, with text by the poet Charles Swain, is another work that does not appear at auction often, and only one other deluxe copy has sold in the past 40 years.

Several bidders competed past the estimate of £3000-4000 with the hammer falling at £7000.

First Irish railway


Andrew Nichol’s Five Views of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway [1834] appears infrequently at auction, and this copy in original wrappers was hammered down to £6500 at Forum.

The opening of the first railway in Ireland in 1834 was celebrated with the publication of Andrew Nichol’s Five views of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway.

The construction of the line had not been straightforward: in 1833 one opponent, a Mr O’Hanlon, told a House of Commons Railway Committee that it “would be a monstrous thing that the solid advantages of commerce, manufactures, and all the blessings resulting therefrom, should he sacrificed to a few nursery maids descending from the town of Kingstown to the sea at Dunleary, to perform the pleasures of ablution”.

Storms also caused a delay as a vital bridge was destroyed. It finally opened on December 1834 with the locomotives Vauxhall and Hibernia, which could travel up to 30mph.

The Bobins copy was complete in its original sewn printed wrappers with the five aquatints after J Harris all finely coloured by hand.

The celebrated 20th century colour plate book collector Major JR Abbey had not been able to acquire a copy of this work for his library, and the Bobins copy sold just over its mid-estimate at £6500.

Among the equine books in the sale was a first edition of Johann Elias Ridinger’s Vorstellung der Pferde, nach ihren Hauptfarben, 1770, with 50 fine hand-coloured engraved plates depicting the various colours and shades of horses, which sold for £10,000 against an estimate of £4000-6000.

Another was John Cheny and Thomas Butler’s Horses and their Pedigrees, published in the mid- 18th century.

This was an unusual inclusion in the Bobins library as the 34 plates of racehorses are not coloured, but the quality of the fine engravings makes up for this, as does its rarity. In 1922 the bibliographer Sparrow wrote that the work was rare because “so many of the copies have been broken up in order that the prints might be sold one by one”.

The Bobins copy, with a Fermor Hesketh library provenance, sold for more than double the low estimate at £10,500.


This superb volume of Russian military costume by HA Eckert and others, Das KK Russische Militair, published c.1842, was bid to £5500 at Forum.

More to come

In total the sale was 81% sold by lot and achieved a mid-estimate hammer total of £375,460.

Forum is planning to offer another selection from the Bobins library in early 2024.