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First Edition

Book collectors seek out first editions as they represent the original form in which a book was originally published.

Signed and inscribed copies are even more desirable, and the ‘dedication copy’ – the copy which is inscribed to the person to whom the author dedicated the book – is more sought after still.


1925 Golden Cockerel edition of Songs... by Robert Burns

09 April 2001

UK: INSET with a portrait miniature, this 1925 Golden Cockerel edition of Songs... by Robert Burns, illustrated with wood engravings by Mabel Annesley and bound in Cosway style in red morocco gilt by Bayntun Rivière, was sold at Bonhams (Buyer’s premium:15/10 per cent) at £1400 (Pirouages).

Thomas Hardy and A Pair of Blue Eyes

02 April 2001

UK: JUST TO prove that “one can get a better... deal from the smaller boys”, John Cranwell, who trades in Oswestry as Bookworld and puts together two auctions a year for the local auctioneers, rang every Thomas Hardy specialist he could find in Sheppard's directory prior to this sale – determined that no-one with a declared interest should be unaware of the fact that a copy of Hardy’s third novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, was to be offered in this 400-lot sale at the town’s Wynnstay Hotel.

Elegy on Captain Cook

02 April 2001

US: IT MAY be 25 years since a copy of the Elegy on Captain Cook, as “composed and and publickly recited before the Royal Academy of Florence” by Michelangelo Gianetti, was last seen at auction, and this 1785 Florentine first edition, engraved throughout and bound in contemporary calf, would also appear to be the dedication copy.

Leonhard Fuch’s De Historia Stirpium...

02 April 2001

UK: LEONHARD Fuch’s De Historia Stirpium..., first issued in Basel in 1542, contains over 500 full-page botanical woodcuts, one shown bottom right, but while it is not unusual to find a portrait of the author in any book, this work also contains portraits of the artists, Heinrich Füllmaurer and Albert Meyer, and the man who made the woodblocks from their originals, Veit Rudolphe Speckle.

Wodehouse collection

02 April 2001

The Bonhams Knightsbridge sale (see above, Henty – the great adventure begins with A Secret for Success) also included a P.G. Wodehouse collection (from a different source) and among the more successful of those lots were these two shown here.

Hevelius’ Selenographia...

26 March 2001

Sold at $75,000 (£51,725), at the Freilich sale which took place at Sotheby’s New York on January 10 and 11, was a superb copy of the first complete lunar atlas, Hevelius’ Selenographia... of 1647.

Histoire naturelle ... Règne Minéral

26 March 2001

One of eight colour printed and hand-finished plates from the only known copy of a work that Fabien Gautier D’Agoty issued in 1777, apparently as a prospectus for his Histoire naturelle ... Règne Minéral.

Hortus sanitatis and the Atlas minéralogique de la France...

26 March 2001

A spread from a 1491 first edition of the most comprehensive and richly illustrated medical or natural history publication of the 15th century, the Hortus sanitatis.

Systême des animaux... and Campi Phlegraei...

26 March 2001

Interleaved throughout with blank leaves, 19 of which bear the author’s annotations, this is Jean Baptiste Lamarck’s own copy of his landmark work on the evolution of species, an 1801 first of Systême des animaux sans vertèbres, ou tableau général des classes, des ordres et des genre de ces animaux in a contemporary binding.

Euclid’s Elementa

26 March 2001

In a beautifully preserved contemporary, and possibly Austrian binding of blind-stamped calf with brass fittings, this copy of Erhard Ratdolt’s 1482, first printing of Euclid’s Elementa, shows some slight waterstaining to the lower margins, but it remains one of the largest and freshest copies in existence – taller than even the Doheny, Honeyman-Garden and Haskell F. Norman copies.

Carolus Linnaeus’ Systema naturae...

26 March 2001

Pictured here is the title page of one of the more important publications in the history of science – Carolus Linnaeus’ Systema naturae... of 1735, which laid the groundwork for the systematic classification of plants and animals.

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Emma

19 March 2001

UK: IN THE original grey-brown paper boards with printed paper labels on the spines, these first edition copies of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, four vols. 1818, and Emma, three vols. 1816, sold at £19,000 and £22,000 respectively to an un-named US dealer.

Nibbling at Defoe’s verse…

19 March 2001

UK: WRITTEN in Daniel Defoe’s characteristically neat hand, this is one of only nine recorded examples of his autograph verse, and though small creatures have nibbled into this copy of his poem, Of resignation, seven of those other verse specimens are in the celebrated Defoe notebook in the Huntington Library and the other is in the Portland Collection at the University of Nottingham, leaving this as the only example still in private hands.

Aldine editio princeps of the works of Aristotle

19 March 2001

US: BOUND in late 17th century French red morocco gilt, this is the five-volume Aldine editio princeps of the works of Aristotle, the 1497-98 first edition in Greek and, in the amount of research and editing that went into its creation, let alone the fine typography, the greatest printing project of the 15th century.

Another zero is added to 007’s number

19 March 2001

UK: I THINK I am right in saying that no James Bond book, at least no uninscribed copy, has ever before reached five figures at auction, but the Dominic Winter sale of March 7 added that required extra nought when an absolutely splendid copy of Ian Fleming’s first Bond spy story, Casino Royale of 1953, was bid up to £11,400. There was stiff competition from several London dealers, but in the end it went to Bromlea & Jonkers.

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

19 March 2001

UK: IN THE original greyish purple ribbed and blind-stamped cloth bindings, this 1847 first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre brought a bid of £30,000 from an American dealer, who may or may not have been that same, un-named West Coast dealer who bought some of the Jane Austens described above, and who also paid £7000 for a three vol. 1853 first of Charlotte’s Villette in the original greyish-olive morocco cloth.

1894 Kelmscott edition of Swinburne’s Atalanta in Calydon

12 March 2001

UK: IN A richly gilt and inlaid green morocco binding by Bayntun Rivière, a copy of the 1894 Kelmscott edition of Swinburne’s Atalanta in Calydon – an ex-Beeleigh Abbey lot with William Foyle’s red morocco bookplate – was sold at £1700 (Shapero).

The Informer and The Invisible Man

12 March 2001

UK: TWO more selections from the Ronald Segal library which was auctioned off in Sotheby’s English Literature & History sale held on December 19.

Dante’s Divina Commedia

12 March 2001

UK: THIS 1564 Venetian edition of Dante’s Divina Commedia was the first to incorporate the commentaries of both Landino and Vellutello, which, printed in roman type, surround the italic setting of Dante’s text.

Alexandre Iacovleff’s Dessins et Peintures d’Afrique

26 February 2001

UK: ONE of 50 coloured illustrations from Alexandre Iacovleff’s Dessins et Peintures d’Afrique of 1927, which sold for £800. One of 100 copies, it comprised a text volume in leather-backed satin covers painted with an African design and a pigskin portfolio containing the loose plates.