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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.


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.

Henri II makes his bookmark

26 February 2001

FRANCE: A SET of 56 folio engraved plates by the Renaissance draughtsman and engraver Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (Paris c.1560), showing various Renaissance furniture designs ranging from buffets and tables to wardrobes and beds, below right, tripled hopes on Fr70,000 (£6800) in Chartres on January 21.

Broadcast bid for Seven Pillars…

26 February 2001

UK: THE copy of T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom offered by Lyon & Turnbull of Edinburgh on February 17 was one of the 170 or so signed, “complete” copies of the privately printed, subscribers’ edition of 1926 and in the original brown morocco binding, illustrated here.

Dracula’s issue and more Hobbits found in New Bond Street

26 February 2001

UK: THE FIRST Phillips sale of the year gets a largely pictorial treatment here, but not everything that I selected for report was illustrated in the catalogue and a number of other highlights are described elsewhere (see "Job lots with a difference", above).

Via Crucis

26 February 2001

UK: ONE of the scarcer plate collections in the Phillips sale was Via Crucis, novellamente eretta nell’ Atrio del Santissimo Crocifisso della chiesa parochiale, e collegiata di S.Polo. Engraved throughout, this small quarto Venetian volume of c.1780 comprises 16 full-page illustrations of the Stations of the Cross by Leonardis after Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, plus 29 pages of text.

The first Hobbits of the Year?

19 February 2001

UK: THE first serious outbreak of Hobbits of 2001 occurred in Hamptons’ Godalming salerooms on February 15, when a first edition set of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the three volumes of 1955-56 in first issue dust wrappers with some slight discolouration and chipping, sold at £11,000.

Wodehouse's The Pothunters

19 February 2001

UK: SERIALISED in Public School magazine before appearing in book form in 1902, The Pothunters was P.G. Wodehouse’s first book, and this first issue copy in royal blue cloth with silver gilt decoration made £720 (Marchpane) in Swindon.

Blyton’s Famous Five give the Shire folk a run for their money

29 January 2001

UK: THE FIRST Tolkiens of 2001 combined to add £11,000 to the takings at this Bath sale.

Incomparable Catcher... ?

29 January 2001

US: DESCRIBED as “probably as good or better than any copy at auction in the last five years”, a 1951 first of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the cloth binding extremely clean and the dust jacket in “nearly superb” condition, made $7500 (£5170) in the December 18 sale held by the Baltimore Book Company.

Albertus Seba’s Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri...

22 January 2001

US: A SCIENTIFIC library formed by New York businessman Joseph A. Frielich was sold by Sotheby’s New York for $10.7m (£7.2m) on January 10-11, 2001, and among many lots that made much higher than predicted sums was a magnificent copy of Albertus Seba’s Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri...

The phenomenal success of Harry Potter

29 May 2000

UK: THE PHENOMENAL success enjoyed in the English speaking world by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter... books has been expensively reflected in the antiquarian, or rather secondhand book world, where (even in the high priced modern firsts market) the prices being asked for Harry the First are almost unbelievable.

Byron auction catalogue raises the bidding high

05 April 1999

UK: ONE OF THE principal successes in the printed portion of this sale was a copy of the 1827 Evans auction catalogue of the Library of the Late Lord Byron....

Ovid, Euclid and the Kôs

05 April 1999

Sales in Switzerland A SCARCE first edition, in a ‘curious’ binding, of the Marquis de Sade’s Justine which proved a surprise star turn of a Galerie Koller auction held in Zurich on February 8, selling for a premium inclusive SFr51,168 (£22,745), was illustrated and described in an earlier issue of the Antiques Trade Gazette, but illustrated and described here are a few more of the highlights.