The most costly lot of the Forum (25/20/15% buyer’s premium) auction on January 26, at £130,000, more than three times the top estimate, was a 1587 Paris edition of Peter the Martyr’s De Orbe Novo.
This authoritative chronicle of the Spanish conquest of the Americas was edited by Richard Hakluyt as part of an ongoing enterprise to encourage England’s competitive expansion into the New World.
Published in the year before the Armada arrived off England’s shores, the book is dedicated to Sir Walter Raleigh.
The Latin text is drawn from a 1530 edition of Peter the Martyr’s work, the first to be published with all eight ‘Decades’ present, but the engraved and folding map that is reproduced above, known as the Hakluyt-Martyr map, is rarely found in its original situation, said Forum, which was unable to trace a copy appearing at auction with the map present in over a century.
Initialled LG, possibly for the French engraver Leonardo Gautier, the map is centred by North and South America, but at the outer edges includes parts of Africa and Europe, along with some of the Pacific islands. New Guinea and Japan are shown partially blank.
The overall shape of the coastline of America is viewed as being greatly improved, eliminating the bulge to western South America commonly found in maps of the period.
Just as remarkable, perhaps, is the inclusion of ‘Virginea 1584’, the first appearance of the name Virginia on a printed map.
The area titled ‘Nuevo Mexico’ and featuring a large inland lake is also the first use of that term on a printed map.
Another cartographic highlight was provided by a copy of Henry Popple’s Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements Adjacent thereto. Thought most likely to have been purchased by a Scottish merchant around the time of issue, it had been in the consignor’s family ever since.
Dated 1733, but believed to be an issue of c.1740, this map of 15 large 21 x 14in (53.5 x 35.5cm) and five smaller sheets, as the accompanying illustration shows, was originally intended as a means of refereeing the claims of the English, French and Spanish colonists.
It must be seen as quite a challenge for someone like Popple, who had embarked on what was to be his first and only cartographic work.
To do so he drew on all the printed and manuscript maps he could lay hands on and came up with a remarkable map that is near 8ft (2.45m) square overall, but as offered was sectioned and contained in contemporary quarter calf and marbled boards,
There was some spotting, browning and other defects of condition but it did sell at the low-estimate figure of £40,000.
Among the earliest works in this auction was a copy of the first and only early edition of the Miscellaneous Poems of Andrew Marvell, a 1681 folio edition contained in a much later ‘fanfare’ binding of ribbons and floral sprays.
Like all known copies, other than that now in the British Library collections, it lacks the suppressed poem on Cromwell.
The poems were edited for publication by Mary Marvell, or Mrs Palmer as she was more commonly known, who it seems may have been Marvell’s housekeeper – though following his death she had in 1680 put herself forward as his widow in an attempt to claim £500 that was owed to him in a legal dispute.
This edition sold at £6800.
High prices were also to be found among the sale’s later literary lots.
Sold at £8000 was a 1940 first of Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory that bore the bookplates of Florence and Edward Kaye, distinguished collectors of fiction, and John Kobler, an American biographer and author of a life of Al Capone.
There were minor shortcomings but the jacket of an unrestored 1953 first of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale had not been price-clipped and it sold at £18,000.
A 1959 first of Goldfinger that had neat tape repairs to verso of its jacket, but which bore a brief inscription, “To Lionel, Something more to read! from Ian”, took £14,000.
The recipient was the politician and newspaper editor Lionel Berry, 2nd Viscount Kemsley, whose father had given Fleming his first job as a journalist and had also given him the opportunity to spend his winters in Jamaica, where his first Bond book and first best-seller, Casino Royale, was written.
The modern fiction prize, however, was picked up at £60,000 by a finely preserved 1998 first of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.