Shown above is Horatio Nelson’s personal annotated copy of Alexander Stephens’ Public Characters of 1803-04.
In addition to the ownership inscription that reads Nelson & Bronte February 27th 1804 off Barcelona in Spain, the admiral takes issue with the entry for Lady Hamilton.
His main comment in defence of Emma comes with the author’s mention of her marriage to Sir William Hamilton and the criticism the match received from his family. Underlining the word criticised, Nelson has written at the bottom of the page, quite the contrary she was given away by the Marquis of Abercorn & always owned as cousin by the present Duke of Hamilton.
He has also underlined the section referencing Emma’s birthplace in Hampshire, writing adjacent, Lancashire witch. This is thought to be a personal joke and a correction of geography, with Emma born in a small town in Cheshire then very close to the county border with Lancashire.
The book, that was quite possibly on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, has an estimate of £10,000-15,000 at Forum Auctions’ sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts & Works on Paper in London on May 25.
The earliest most complete Hebrew bible will be offered at Sotheby’s New York with a $30m-50m estimate.
In the early Middle Ages scholars (known as Masoretes) began to create a body of notes that standardised the text of the Hebrew Bible. One of the most well-known books to emerge from this project was the Aleppo Codex, assembled c.930. It was later corrected and punctuated by Bible scholar Aaron ben Moses ben Asher but fewer than 300 of the approximately 487 original folios survive.
The earliest, most complete copy of the Hebrew Bible is a book known as Codex Sassoon, named for its most prominent modern owner: David Solomon Sassoon (1880-1942). Dating to the late 9th or early 10th century, Codex Sassoon contains all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible – missing only 12 leaves – and precedes the earliest entirely complete Hebrew Bible, the Leningrad Codex, by nearly a century.
The Codex Sassoon will be offered on May 16 and could become the most valuable historical document ever sold at auction.
James Joyce’s Ulysses
Hansons’ book sale in Etwall, Derbyshire, on June 16 titled The Bloomsday Library Auction includes a special copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
The first English edition published by Egoist Press in October 1922, it is one of only a handful that were sent out for review by the press. This copy was sent to the poet and critic Arthur Symons at The Observer. The book bears ‘Unnumbered Press Copy’ stamps, the owner inscription of Symons, and a photograph of Joyce which is signed and inscribed by Joyce to Symons.
The book is housed in a solander box by the George Bayntun bindery and includes a purchase invoice dated 1947.
A collection of 297 costume designs made for stage productions from the 1960s until the 1990s by Sally Jacobs (1932-2020) features in Chiswick Auctions’ sale of Books and Works on Paper on May 25.
Jacobs, whose career was innovative, wide-ranging and influential, began working at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962, before moving to Los Angeles from 1967-82, where she worked at the Mark Taper Forum.
Book of Hours
This Book of Hours in Latin and French was made in Rouen with the illuminations, including 14 large miniatures and 24 small calendar miniatures, by the Master of the Echevinage of Rouen (active 1460-80).
The French calf binding is panelled with central medallion on upper cover of François I (King of France 1515-47) and inscribed F Rex.
It has an estimate of €40,000 at Ketterer Rare Books in Hamburg on May 22.
More items from the Dudley Ollis collection of playing cards come for sale at Dominic Winter in South Cerney, Gloucestershire, on June 15.
A dedicated and knowledgeable member of the International Playing Card Society, Ollis formed his collection over more than 50 years, buying from dealers on Portobello Road and Camden Passage as well as auction houses.
Considered the most important English private collection of playing cards, it includes rarities such as this complete set of 78 German Tarot cards published c.1808 in Leipzig.
The court cards and aces of each suit represent the Holy Roman Empire (hearts), France (clubs), Turkey (diamonds), and Russia (spades).
The scenes depicted on the trump cards include Napoleon receiving surrender of a blindfolded Austrian officer at Lodi in 1796, the defeat of the Turkish army in 1799 and Napoleon crowning Josephine in 1804 at the time of his own ‘coronation’ by Pius VII.
The only complete set known, it is estimated at £1500-2000.
Charles Darwin book
The Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by HMS Beagle was Charles Darwin’s first published book.
It originally appeared as the third volume of The Narrative of the Voyages of HMS Adventure and Beagle published early in 1839. However, later in the same year it was issued separately together with two engraved folding maps (The Southern Portion of South America and Keeling Islands) plus a series of wood-engraved illustrations in the text.
This copy in original vertical-ribbed purple cloth has an estimate of £4000-6000 as part of the book sale at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on June 21.
John Gould’s Birds of Great Britain is considered the finest illustrated book on British birds. Issued in 25 parts between 1862-73, it features 367 lithograph plates painstakingly coloured by hand.
This copy has an estimate of €15,000-20,000 at Fonsie Mealy in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, Ireland, on May 24.
A bound collection of eleven 18th and early 19th century pamphlets relating to coronations has a guide of £300-500 at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in Exeter on June 6.
Pictured here is the large folding panoramic engraved plate titled The Magnificent Form of the Procession usually observed in the Coronation of the Kings and Queens of England that is included in the 1760 pamphlet Account of the Ceremonies Observed in the Coronations of the Kings and Queens of England…
The timed online sale at Comic Book Auctions closing on June 4 includes, bound together, the first seven issue of Magic Comic.
Published from 1939-41, during the Second World War, Magic was the third title joining DC Thompson’s stable alongside the Beano and the Dandy. Due to wartime shortages of paper and dyestuffs it lasted only for 80 issues and all early copies are scarce.
This, the highest-graded Magic run ever offered at auction, says CBA, rated ‘fine to very fine’, has an estimate of £1800-2400.
The Travel & Exploration sale that will be held online by Bonhams from May 17-30 includes a first edition copy of The Victoria Falls Zambesi River Sketched on the Spot (During the Journey of J Chapman & T Baines). Published in 1865, it features 10 hand-coloured lithographed plates.
At the recommendation of the Royal Geographical Society, Thomas Baines (1820-75) was appointed artist and storekeeper to David Livingstone’s 1858 Zambesi expedition. In 1861 he had joined James Chapman on an expedition from the south-west coast of Africa to the Victoria Falls, during which he made many sketches and paintings.
Prime Minister's library
Not only is this presentation copy of John Wheeler Bennet’s Munich. Prologue to Tragedy (1948) inscribed by the author to Anthony Eden, it has been copiously annotated by Eden himself.
Some of Eden’s additions are both outspoken and personal. For example, when commenting on Sir Nevile Henderson, British ambassador to Germany from 1937-39, Eden writes: Disastrous man and disloyal to me.
About Neville Chamberlain he writes, simply, Ass!, and adds on a largely blank page: If he had really been concerned, he should have presided over our rearmament – as I frequently urged him to do in vain.
The lively language, scribbled in the heat of the moment, counters the characterisation of Eden as a rather distant, formal and patrician figure.
The book has an estimate of £700-1000 at Bellmans in Billingshurst, West Sussex, on July 13.
The sale includes the majority of the former prime minister’s library.
Nicholas Worskett, Bellmans’ book specialist, says: “It has been a rare privilege and an education for me to discover more about Eden through his book collection, and to find so many books with his annotations which are often surprising for their candour, revealing the off-duty, unofficial statesman.”
The sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts & Works on Paper at Forum Auctions in London on May 25 includes this very special first edition copy of Roald Dahl’s The BFG from 1982.
As well as a presentation inscription from the author, it carries a line illustration of the giant by Quentin Blake. Estimate £8000-12,000.
Hindman’s May 11 sale of Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts in Chicago begins with 125 lots relating to polar exploration. They including a rare complete first edition set of views of The Entrapment and Abandonment of the HMS Investigator in The Arctic Ice (estimate $15,000-25,000).
The Investigator set sail in 1850 as a part of the second expedition to search for the ships of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated attempt to find the Northwest Passage before becoming stuck in pack ice itself in 1853.
Unlike the mystery surrounding Franklin’s ships, the abandonment of the Investigator was well documented including the sketches made by Lieutenant Samuel Gurney Cresswell offered in the auction.
The Wrestling Baronet
Penzance saleroom Lay’s is offering the The Frank Brewer Cornish Library in its May 25-26 auction. Shown here is a copy of Sir Thomas Parkyns’ (1664-1741). Progymnasmata. The Inn-Play: Or, Cornish-Hugg Wrestler, estimated at £1200-1800.
Sir Thomas was known as ‘Luctator’ or the Wrestling Baronet, renowned as an architect but also an enthusiastic patron of wrestling. His Progymnasmata is an important early study on Cornish wrestling, including some notes on fencing and boxing.
This was Lord Rosebery’s copy (British prime minster 1894-95). He built a large library at Durdans, his home in Epsom, Surrey. On his death in 1929, Sotheby’s was instructed to sell his library which took place on June 29-30, 1933.
A third edition, corrected, with large additions, it bears the bookplate of Durdans, as well as the bookstamp of Rosebery, Durdans, and the signature of F Harvey, Hayle.
This work printed for Thomas Weeks, at the White-Hart in Westminster Hall and sold by Humphry Wainwright, at Bunny, in Nottinghamshire, 1727, and is bound by Francis Bedford (1779-1883). He was the foremost bookbinder of the 19th and early 20th century in goatskin.