Sold for a considerably higher than expected £36,000 in a March 30 sale held by Forum Auctions (26/25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) was a copy of George Boole’s Mathematical Analysis of Logic of 1847.
This is a paper that, according to the computer historians Erwin Tomash and Michael Williams, “began the revolution that led to the development of mathematical logic… [and] in recent times has seen Boolean logic find widespread use in the design of digital computers and communication systems”.
This copy was in the original yellow paper wrappers.
The Boole lot was immediately followed in the London sale by two hugely successful Darwin-related lots, both of which had a provenance cited as the Cornford family.
Bid to £13,000 was Charles Darwin’s copy of the 1865, second edition of WEH Lecky’s The Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe, one said to have been read to him by his wife or daughters and bearing notes in one of their hands.
But it was the other Cornford family lot that made the bigger impact, an 1875 first of The Study of Sociology, selling for £35,000 rather than the estimated £1000- 1500. It was featured in last week’s News Digest.
Shippard of Arabia
Bid to £22,000 was an 1835 map of Arabia un das Nil-Land produced by LG Ehrenberg and Eduard Rüppell.
Bearing extensive mid 19th century annotations and additions by Captain William H Shippard that list and identify additional or previously unrecorded locations, along with routes taken by historical figures and explorers of the region, it had been consigned by descendants.
The work’s creation had been part of Shippard’s unrealised ‘Museum of Mankind’ project, one in which he had intended to illustrate the ‘History of Man’ by means of illustrated lectures.
Among other lots focussed on travel and exploration, a 1768 first of Pedro Sarmiento de Gambóa’s Viage al Estrecho de Magallanes… that came in a handsome contemporary binding of red morocco gilt bearing the Spanish royal arms was sold at £12,000.
What had begun as an attempt to capture Sir Francis Drake following his attack on the coasts of Peru, ended up as a voyage of exploration in which the work’s author also mapped the Straits of Magellan.
Boasting handsome but later bindings, examples of the 1807-16 first and 1824 second editions of the atlas and text volumes that make up Péron & Freycinet’s Voyages de Décovertes aux Terre Australes brought bids of £16,000 and £11,000.
Sold at £11,000 was a small group of nine, mostly autograph letters or cards in the hand of the young Philip Larkin. Addressed to an Oxford contemporary with whom he shared lodgings, they were in large part notable for the insults they contained – but also for thoughts on what his own post-academic career might bring.
His own first publisher, Reginald Caton, owner of the Fortune Press, Larkin describes as a “seedy homosexual who looks like a parson unfrocked and set selling elastic in the street”, before damning his printers as incompetent.
DH Lawrence, it seems, needed “a kick up the arse”, and jazz music is dismissed as “a disease peculiar to pimpled, silk-scarfed office boys”, but Larkin is equally damning of his own work.
He describes his own novel of 1946, Jill, as “pathetically bad, judged by objective standards”.
The purely, or primarily pictorial highlights of the Forum sale also included a bound collection of 530 wood engraved illustrations by Gwen Raverat (1886-1957), founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers, which fell short of expectations but did sell at £30,000.