Bayern Dof Wintzer, a plate from Adolf Friedreich Kunike’s Two hundred and sixty-four views following the course of the Danube sold for £13,000 at Forum Auctions (March 27, 2024).

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One of the finest late 20th century collections of colour plate travel and costume books was dispersed over a quartet of sales in 2023-24.

Two auctions at Christie’s (in New York on June 16, 2023) and then in London on July 13, 2023) and two at Forum in London (on September 26, 2023 and March 27 this year) were required to return to commerce the remarkable holdings of Norman Bobins.

Bobins, a captain of industry and resident of Chicago, was inspired to start collecting 40 years ago. Lavish colour plate books, he found, tied together his three interests of books, art and travel.

The magnificent library he built followed the development of colour plate books from the mid 18th to the late 19th century, from hand-coloured copperplate engravings to chromolithography. The geographical scope of the collection was global, with works illustrating the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East, India and Australia.

Bobins’ holdings ultimately rivalled those of Major John Roland Abbey (1894-1969), whose famous library was sold en bloc to the Paul Mellon for the Yale Center for British Art And like Abbey, he had his collection published in a series of richly illustrated catalogues. Titled The Exotic and the Beautiful and issued from 2005 to 2022, all have been digitised and are free to view online.

Even with the sale of a significant part of the collection in 2015 to the collector Sri Prakash Lohia, the Bobins sales totalled close to 1000 lots (419 at Christie’s, 525 at Forum). At all four sales, the market for this proved subject specific. The collection covered an unusually wide spectrum of themes and some categories, such as the once hugely popular field sports, are relatively soft.

The best-performing books in the sale came with enticing illustrations of the exotic and the remarkable that were so important to the emergence of the tourism industry.

From views of the English Lake District to the Yellowstone National Park, we take a whistlestop tour of the world according to Norman Bobins.

‘The greatest American landscape book'


The Castle Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin from The Yellowstone National Park by Thomas Moran and Ferdinand Hayden, $320,000 (£257,000) at Christie’s New York (June 16, 2023).

The Yellowstone National Park, and the Mountain Regions of Portions of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Utah, 1876, has been called ‘the greatest American landscape book of the post-civil war era’. Thomas Moran (1837-1926) provided the 15 chromolithographs to accompany the 13-page commentary by Ferdinand Hayden (1829-87), who headed the United States Geological Survey during its investigations of the mountain regions of the West.

This work was printed in a small number of copies and issued unbound, with the plates loose in a portfolio. Hence complete works, with none of the plates removed for display and retaining all text leaves, are very rare. Norman Bobins’ copy sold at Christie’s New York in June 2023 above top estimate for $320,000 (£257,000)

Views of Canada


Montmorenci from the east bank, the previously unknown plate from the Gray and Gleadah views of Canada, $65,000 (£52,000) at Christie’s New York (June 16, 2023).

The so-called Gray and Gleadah prints of Canada were a favourite of the Royal Ontario Museum curator F St George Spendlove, whose 1958 book The Face of Early Canada remains a key reference work on the subject.

He wrote: “In the year 1828 seven coloured aquatints of Canada from drawings by James Gray were engraved by Joshua Gleadah and J Ryall.

“They were published by Willett & Blandford, London, and dedicated to Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor, and the Gentlemen of Upper Canada. The set is of extreme rarity and… in a class by themselves in the Canadian field.”

When Spendlove was writing he knew of only two sets of seven engravings. However, the copy that framed part of the famous Winkworth trove of Canadiana at Christie’s King Street in April 2015 had eight prints - including the previously unknown plate titled Falls of Montmorenci from the east bank. It sold at the time for £42,000.

The former Winkworth set reappeared as part of the Norman Bobins sale at Christie’s New York. There, estimated at $30,000-50,000, it took $65,000 (£52,000).

Lake District


One of the 24 plates by James Baker Pyne from The English Lake District, £7000 at Forum Auctions (September 26, 2023).

In 1853 Thomas Agnew and Sons of Manchester published a set of 24 fine lithographed views by the artist James Baker Pyne titled The English Lake District. The Bobins copy was an example of the rare deluxe issue with the title and plates all finely coloured by hand and mounted on card.

This monumental publication, with text by the poet Charles Swain, is another work that does not appear at auction often, and only one other deluxe copy has sold in the past 40 years.

Several bidders competed past the estimate of £3000-4000 at Forum with the hammer falling at £7000.



Campanile di Pisa by G Carocci from a copy of A Nuova Raccolta delle piu interessanti Vedute della Citta di Firenze con alcune altre della Toscana, £1700 at Forum Auctions (September 26, 2023).

Unlike JR Abbey, whose focus was on English language books published 1770 to 1860, Norman Bobins did not restrict himself to books written in his mother tongue. This view of the bell tower at Pisa is one of 18 engraved views included in A Nuova Raccolta delle piu interessanti Vedute della Citta di Firenze con alcune altre della Toscana published in Florence by Lorenzo Bardi, c.1840.

Only this copy - last sold in 1988 for £1000 - is recorded at auction. It took £1700 at Forum Auctions.



Casa de Calderas del Ingenio Armonia, from Eduardo Laplante’s Ingenios de Azucar de la Isla de Cuba, $16,000 (£12,800) at Christie’s New York (June 16, 2023).

Ingenios de Azucar de la Isla de Cuba printed in Havana in 1857 includes a series of beautifully executed plates of the sugar plantations and factories of Cuba. Both the artist, Eduardo Laplante (1818-60), and his publishing partner, Luis Marquier, were both French immigrants to Cuba. The 28 hand-coloured plates combine bird’s-eye views of plantations and detailed scenes from the factory floor.

The only equally complete set that appears in the auction records was sold in 1995. Bobins’ copy (placing the text) sold just above estimate at $16,000 (£12,800) as part of the June 2023 sale at Christie’s New York.



One of the 35 plates from Prince Mestchersky’s Vues d’Espagne, £7000 at Forum Auctions (September 26, 2023).

There were no previous auction records for a complete copy of Prince Mestchersky’s Vues d’Espagne published in 1867. The German artist Friedrich Eibner’s (1826-1877) predominantly painted architectural subjects and produced this album of 35 large folio chromolithographed views for the Russian nobleman Aleksandr Meshchersky (1822-1900) following a tour of Spain in 1860-61.

Estimated at £2000-3000, this work more than tripled its low estimate in selling for £7000.

Views of the Danube


Bayern Dof Wintzer, a plate from Adolf Friedreich Kunike’s Two hundred and sixty-four views following the course of the Danube sold for £13,000 at Forum Auctions (March 27, 2024).

Austrian lithographer, illustrator and publisher Adolf Friedreich Kunike (1777-1838) published his Two hundred and sixty-four views following the course of the Danube in three parts (1820, 1824 and 1826). The commission to produce the drawings for Kunike’s prints was initially undertaken by Rudolf Alt but he resigned the post halfway through the journey, fearful of the dangers inherent in the later reaches of the Danube as it entered the Ottoman Empire. Instead, the intrepid Ludwig Erminy completed the sketches. Forum could not find another complete hand-coloured set that had appeared at auction and this was reflected in the price. Estimated at £3000-5000, it hammered for £13,000.

New Zealand warriors


The Manner in Which New Zealand Warriors defy their Enemies, a plate from A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, £19,000 at Christie’s King Street (July 13, 2023).

Published in 1784, the expanded second edition of A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, In His Majesty’s Ship the Endeavour, was assembled by a friend of the artist Sydney Parkinson (1745-71). He had been appointed botanical draughtsman to the first voyage of Captain Cook by Sir Joseph Banks, and his ‘unbounded industry’ extended greatly the collection of drawings relating to the voyage. However, his untimely death at sea led to a controversy over the title to his work and his exclusion from one of the official accounts of the voyage.

This rare second edition includes a significant number of additions to the first published in 1773 including a double-page engraved twin-hemispherical world map showing the tracks of Cook’s three voyages, 27 numbered plates (including a map of New Zealand) and a four-page supplement discussing the ownership dispute between Parkinson’s family and Sir Joseph Banks. It sold for £19,000 (estimate £8000-12,000) at Christie’s King Street.

Greek costumes


Janissaire de Janina from Costumes et Usages des Peuples de la Grece Moderne, £22,000 at Forum Auctions (September 26, 2023).

This first edition of Otto Magnus von Stackelberg’s Costumes et Usages des Peuples de la Grece Moderne was published by the artist himself in Rome in 1825.

The work was imitated and copied, with pirated lithographed editions soon appearing in Italy, England and France. Stackelberg had spent four years in Greece from 1810-14 and had met Byron in Athens, and travelled with Cockerell, Haller von Hallerstein, Foster and others in excavating and painting at various Greek archaeological sites, notably at Aegina and Bassae.

It sold at £22,000 at Forum.

Saint Helena


One of six views of Saint Helena in Frederick Rice Stack’s Souvenir of the Emperor Napoleon, £1200 at Forum Auctions (March 27, 2023).

Frederick Rice Stack’s Souvenir of the Emperor Napoleon depicts six hand-coloured lithographed views of the island of Saint Helena taken by an army officer 30 years after the death of Napoleon. The text is by one Mrs Ward who identifies herself in the preface as a resident of the island from 1836-39. Published by in 1859, this large paper issue, took £1200 at Forum Auctions.

German gardens


Der Flora Tempel from Victor Heideloff’s Ansichten des Herzoglich Württembergischen Landsitzes Hohenheim, £11,000 at Forum Auctions (September 26, 2023).

One of the scarcest and most desirable German colour-plate books on gardens is Victor Heideloff’s Ansichten des Herzoglich Württembergischen Landsitzes Hohenheim, published in Nuremberg between 1795-1800, which depicts the gardens of the duke of Württemberg’s estate in Hohenheim.

The Bobins copy was a first edition in the original six parts with a hand-coloured engraved plan and 37 hand-coloured aquatint plates.

Charles Eugene, duke of Württemberg (1728-93), obtained the former manor of Bombast von Hohenheim for his mistress and later wife Franziska von Hohenheim in 1768. The estate was reconstructed in an English fashion by court architect Reinhard F Heinrich Fischer.

Many follies and monuments in the Baroque and antique styles were added to the estate before the duke’s death in 1793. Though many of the buildings later fell into disrepair, several were ultimately preserved and now form the botanic gardens of the University of Hohenheim.

The last copy of this publication to appear at auction was an incomplete copy sold in 1965. The Bobins copy estimated at £4000-6000 sold for nearly triple the low estimate at £11,000 at Forum.

Black Sea


Batoum Frontier of Georgia from W Hyde Parker’s A series of sketches in the Black Sea, £10,000 at Christie’s King Street (July 13, 2023).

A notable result of £10,000 - 10 times the low estimate at Christie’s King Street - was achieved for an incomplete set of W Hyde Parker’s A series of sketches in the Black Sea (c.1853). This comprised nine of 11 tinted lithographic plates depicting the various areas of the Black Sea at the outbreak of the Crimean War. Captain Parker, who commanded HMS Firebrand, was killed on July 8, 1854, during an attack on a Russian fortress at the mouth of the Danube. The last complete copy recorded at auction was back in 1952.



South East View of the New Church from Views of Calcutta by William Baillie, £35,000 at Christie’s King Street (July 13, 2023).

Bid to a triple low estimate of £35,000 at Christie’s King Street in July 2023 was a series of 12 hand-coloured Views of Calcutta by William Baillie (a book not owned by JR Abbey), showing many of the newly built colonial neo-classical buildings of the city. This large folio size set of prints was published in Calcutta in 1794, which may explain its scarcity, and only two other sets of these prints have appeared at auction in recent decades.



Dublin and Kingstown Railway from the Martello Bridge at Seapont, £6500 at Forum Auctions (September 26, 2023).

Andrew Nichol’s Five Views of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway published in 1834 appears infrequently at auction, and a copy in original wrappers was hammered down to £6500 at Forum. The opening of the first railway in Ireland in 1834 was celebrated with the publication of Nichol’s work.

The construction of the line had not been straightforward. In 1833 one opponent, a Mr O’Hanlon, told a House of Commons Railway Committee that it “would be a monstrous thing that the solid advantages of commerce, manufactures, and all the blessings resulting therefrom, should be sacrificed to a few nursery maids descending from the town of Kingstown to the sea at Dunleary, to perform the pleasures of ablution”.

Storms also caused a delay as a vital bridge was destroyed. It finally opened on December 1834 with the locomotives Vauxhall and Hibernia, which could travel up to 30mph.

The Bobins copy was complete in its original sewn printed wrappers with the five aquatints after J Harris all finely coloured by hand.



One of the two views of the interior of the Dome of the Rock from Werner and Gleig’s Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Holy Places, £48,000 at Christie’s King Street (July 13, 2023).

Perhaps the largest and heaviest set of books in the Bobins sale was Werner and Gleig’s monumental publication Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Holy Places published in parts from 1865-66.

This copy was complete, containing 32 chromolithographic plates with the original wrappers for all 10 parts bound into two elephant folio-size volumes.

Werner’s depictions of Jerusalem are particularly noted as he was one of few non-Muslims to gain access to paint inside the Dome of the Rock.

The work features two plates of the interior showing worshippers at prayer. This is the only complete copy that has appeared at auction in many decades and sold for £48,000 - a bid more than it made at Sotheby’s in 2017.



Statues of Memnon, Thebes from Views on the Nile: from Cairo to the Second Cataract, £4000 at Forum Auctions (September 26, 2023).

Views on the Nile: from Cairo to the Second Cataract features a total of 39 plates on 31 sheets: 16 after sketches by Owen Jones (1809-74) and 15 by the French architect Jules Goury (1803-34). Jones had visited parts of Greece, Alexandria, Cairo, Thebes, and Constantinople in 1833 and the following year collaborated with Goury on their influential study of the Alhambra at Granada until the Frenchman died of cholera.

Views on the Nile…, issued in its first edition in 1843 by Graves and Warmsley, sold for £4000 at Forum.