Swann Galleries Presents English & Enlightenment Works In March Auction of Early Printed Books

  • Single leaf from a paper copy of the Gutenberg Bible, Mainz, 1455, in a copy of Newton's A Noble Fragment.  Estimate $40,000 to $60,000.

    Single leaf from a paper copy of the Gutenberg Bible, Mainz, 1455, in a copy of Newton's A Noble Fragment. Estimate $40,000 to $60,000.

    swanngalleries.com

  • Hans Holbein, The Images of the Old Testament, first English-language edition, with 94 woodcut illustrations, Lyon, 1549.  Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.

    Hans Holbein, The Images of the Old Testament, first English-language edition, with 94 woodcut illustrations, Lyon, 1549. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.

    swanngalleries.com

On Thursday, March 9, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books, featuring a premier selection of early English material.

The top lot of the sale is a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, Mainz, 1455, with the text of Ecclesiasticus 16:14-18:29, estimated at $40,000 to $60,000. Further doctrinal material includes the fourth edition of the first volume of Petrus Berchorius's Liber Bibliae moralis, Cologne, 1477, a thirteenth century encyclopedia of the Bible and the natural world ($10,000 to $15,000) and the first edition in English of Hans Holbein’s The Images of the Old Testament, 1549, featuring 94 woodcuts by the artist and valued at $10,000 to $15,000. A 1560 first edition of the Geneva Bible, the predominant bible in Elizabethan England, is expected to bring $10,000 to $15,000. The 1674 third edition of Baruch Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, which includes the 1666 Philosophia S. Scripturae interpres by Spinoza’s friend and editor Lodewijk Meijer, a controversial work arguing for the philosophical interpretation of scripture, estimated at $2,000 to $3,000, also makes an appearance.

Early English books featured in this sale include Antonio de Guevara's manual of statecraft The Dial of Princes, 1568 ($3,000 to $5,000); the first English edition of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Florentine Historie, 1595 ($3,000 to $5,000); Michel de Montaigne's The Essayes, the precursor of the modern essay form, 1603 ($8,000 to $12,000); and Sir Philip Sidney's influential prose romance The Countess of Pembrokes Arcadia, 1598 ($3,000 to $5,000). Also available is the third edition of the English translation by Sir Thomas North of Plutarch’s The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romaines, London, 1603, from Jacques Amyot’s French version of the original Greek, as well as the first edition of Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, ($1,500 to $2,000 and $6,000 to $9,000, respectively).

From the travel section comes An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, to the Grand Tartar Cham, Emperour of China, 1673, written by Jan Nieuhoff et al and originally published as part of John Ogilby’s series of travel atlases ($4,000 to $6,000). Several tomes recount exploration into the Middle East, including the first edition of Jean de la Roque’s Voyage de l’Arabie Heureuse, 1716-22, with three engraved folding plates of coffee plants, valued at $1,500 to $2,500.

A thirteenth-century noted ferial psalter and hymnal in Latin, with Western and Low German Saints’ Days ($3,000 to $5,000) is one of several rare manuscripts in the sale. Also available is a collection of 15 prayers composed by Charles V of Spain with engraved illustrations of gospel scenes, written in Spanish in Brussels in 1676; this volume, in an embellished red cloth binding, is expected to fetch $3,000 to $5,000.

Further highlights include the Italian translation by Leonardo Cernoti of Claudius Ptolemaeus's Geografia, Venice, 1598-97, with notes by the astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini. This edition includes a double-hemisphere world map after Rumold Mercator, as well as 63 half-page maps; it is valued between $3,000 and $5,000. The second edition of Christophorus Georgius de Honestis’s Expositio super Antidotario Mesue, printed in Bologna in 1488, is also present. This late fourteenth-century commentary is based on the Antidotarium ascribed to the Baghdad court physician Mesuë the Younger, a popular pharmacopeia based on Muslim knowledge ($3,000 to $5,000).

In addition to a first edition of Paradise Lost by John Milton, 1668 ($6,000 to $9,000), there is also an extensive selection of philosophical works by important figures of the Enlightenment, including René Descartes, John Evelyn, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, John Locke and François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire.

In the medical section is an archive of letters from Harvey Cushing to the great-niece of Elisha Bartlett, regarding the collection of Bartlett material he assembled with her help, estimated at $5,000 to $10,000.  A sizable offering of seventeenth- to early twentieth-century works from the philosophy library of Professor Jan Ludwig features first editions by David Hume and Immanuel Kant, including Kant’s Critik der reinen Vernunft, printed in Riga in 1781 ($8,000 to $12,000).

The auction will be held Thursday, March 9, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Saturday, March 4 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, March 6 through Wednesday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information or to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Early Printed Books Specialist Tobias Abeloff at 212-254-4710, extension 18 or tabeloff@swanngalleries.com.

Swann Auction Galleries
Press Contact:
Alexandra Nelson
Swann Auction Galleries
P: 212-254-4710 ext. 19
alexandra@swanngalleries.com
 
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