Offered as part of a Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) sale of October 17, this is an important book by Nikola Tesla.
The Serbian-born inventor, electrical and mechanical engineer, who emigrated to the US in the early 1880s, is perhaps best known for his contributions to the introduction of the AC electricity supply system.
This was a man of great ability who has many achievements and successes to his name – but also notable eccentricities. It seems he worked every day from nine till six, or later, but always dined at exactly 8.10pm, either at Delmonicos or, in later years, at the Waldorf-Astoria, his home for over 20 years.
Tesla would telephone his dinner order to the head waiter, the only person allowed to serve him, and always dined alone – except on those rare occasions when he gave a dinner to meet his social obligations. Tesla would then resume his work, often staying on until the early hours of the following morning.
For exercise, he walked 8-10 miles each day and curled his toes 100 times for each foot every night, saying that it stimulated his brain cells.
More fascinating detail on both Tesla’s achievements and eccentricities can be found online, including speculation that it was animosity between Tesla and his erstwhile employer, Edison, that prevented either man from being awarded a Nobel Prize.
Two maritime rarities
Another notable result in the sale was a £3800 bid on a group of six 18th century pamphlets of maritime and navigation interest. Most showed some faults of condition and the estimate was just £300-400 – but the cataloguer had noted the apparent scarcity of at least two.
Those picked out were a 1795, Faden first (and only) edition of Remarks and Directions concerning the Channels and for Sailing into Port Royal and Kingston Harbours and a 1799 first of Joseph Correa de Serra’s On a Submarine Forest of the East Coast of England.
Also noted as firsts were another work with a Faden imprint, Observations on the Florida Keys, Reef and Gulf of 1796 by George Gauld (whose major work of 1790, an Account of the Surveys of Florida…, has made as much as $48,000) and Alexander Dalrymple’s Remarks on a Passage from P Warwoor, to the Straits of Sunda of 1789.
The Scottish and Irish portions of a 1662, Latin text issue of the Blaeu Atlas major failed against a £10,000- 15,000 estimate, but other Scottish cartographic highlights included an Ortelius/Leslie map sold at £2400, and a Wood Town Atlas of Scotland. The latter, dating from 1828 and containing 47 (of 48) double-page engraved or litho town plans, made £3200.
An interesting lot offering a sheet of early 17th century globe gores by Johann Otterschaden and a 1779 Bowen map of Asia sold at £3800.
An exceptionally large map of c.1771 (in six folding and linen mounted sections) showing the route of a Russian expedition through Moldavia during a 1769-70 campaign against the Turks made £2400.
Bid to £4800 was a copy of Sclater & Oldfield’s Book of Antelopes of 1894. The four volumes, in original brown cloth bindings with large gilt figures of antelopes to the font covers, contain 100 hand coloured litho plates by and after Smit and Wolf.