The most expensive lot in a Freeman’s (26/20/12% buyer’s premium) sale, Les voyages du sieur de Champlain xaintongeois, capitaine ordinaire pour le Roy, en la marine… outlines some of the many journeys to North America made by the French explorer and colonist Samuel de Champlain.
It is illustrated with three engraved folding plates and eight maps, one of which was present here only in facsimile.
Detailing voyages made in 1604, 1610, 1611, and 1613, it deals very fully with the natural history of the country, its soil and its products, and is especially detailed in its description of the manners, customs, and habits of the Indians.
There were a number of faults of condition, but this was an undoubted rarity, as the treble-estimate selling price at the on February 18 auction showed.
Bid to a much higher than predicted $5000 (£3570) was a lithographed political cartoon of c.1836 that satirises President Andrew Jackson and his administration’s battle with the United States Bank.
On the Way to Araby! depicts a frightened looking Jackson fleeing on hearing news that the bank is being re-chartered in Pennsylvania. Depicted at right is bank president Nicholas Biddle, holding a new charter and proclaiming from the steps of the old bank, “General allow me to introduce an old friend with a new face!”
Martin Van Buren, heir apparent to the presidency, grasps at the policies of the Jacksonian era, here in the form of Jackson’s cloak.
Take the railroad
Undated but thought to date from the 1840s, Wallis’s Locomotive Game of Railroad Adventures, the hand-coloured and linen backeded aquatint panels folding into a striped, cloth-covered folder and complete with a 12pp book of rules, sold at $4250 (£3035).
Bid to $12,000 (£8570) was a 1969, first English edition of Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. Signed and inscribed with one of Nabokov’s trademark butterfly drawings, it was given by his wife, Vera, to a close cousin, Anya Feigin.
On first leaving the USSR, the Nabokovs had stayed with Anya in Berlin. Later, and following her husband’s death, Anya lived alone in New York City, but when her health deteriorated, Vera had her flown to their home in Montreux and set her up in a home near their apartment in the Palace Hotel. For the remaining 18 months of her life the Nabokovs visited Anya several times a week.
Among the games in the sale, the most expensive, at $10,400 (£7425), was The Geographical Pastime, or the Complete Tour of Europe. Published in Philadelphia in 1822, this large folding game board comprised eight hand-coloured engraved panels including the large title cartouche.
Engraved by JH Seymour after a drawing by Thomas Birch, and one of the earlier board games published in the US, it was modelled on Thomas Jefferys’ Royal Geographical Pastime or the Complete Tour of Europe of 1768.
Sold for a higher than expected $6600 (£4715) was a complete deck of 52 chromolithographed Harlequin transformation playing cards designed by Chas E Carryl and issued by Tiffany in 1879. The original printed box shows a clean split at one corner, but the deck appears never to have been used.