Once the property of Charlton Heston, a 1673 first quarto edition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth was the top lot in a Bonhams New York (27.5/25/20/13.9%) sale that ended on July 7.
Though included in the famous First Folio of 1623, the Scottish play was not printed separately for another 50 years and of just three copies of that issue recorded at auction, this example in its 20th century binding is the only complete one.
Heston played Macbeth on stage and live on television a number of times, but this copy of the play was making only its second auction appearance – albeit in under five years. In 2016, when Bonhams Los Angeles sold the Charlton Heston Collection, it had made $62,000, but this time bidding reached only $60,000 (£47,735).
In the words of the American printer and historian of typography Daniel Berkeley Updike, “…no other man [in Renaissance Italy] produced quite so fine a font, or had better taste in the composition of a page and its imposition upon paper”.
He was referring to Nicolaus Jenson, whose beautiful roman typeface and feeling for page design is seen to splendid effect above, on the opening page of a 1471, second edition of Leonardo Bruni’s De bello Italico adversus Gotthos. At the head of the page a delicate manuscript initial E, framed in gold, shows a deer lying in a meadow.
In a 19th century binding of crushed morocco gilt by Chambolle-Duru and once part of the great Broxbourne library, this copy had probably been washed, said the saleroom, the text being clean and slightly faded in places. It nevertheless sold at $12,000 (£9545).
Very different but certainly rare was one of only 20 copies of the self-published Memoirs of Edward Bosqui, who, having arrived in San Francisco in 1850, was one of the earlier printers to set up business there. Inscribed for his son, this copy made $17,000 (£13,525).