An excellent example of early 19th century Chinese ethnography, this album of 72 watercolours of the Miao People c.1830-40 has a guide of £10,000-15,000 at Forum Auctions’ May 30 sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper.

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So, another year goes by and here we are with Antiques Trade Gazette’s 2024 rare book supplement, the Firsts fair, the summer auction season and yet more memories of great books handled, collections seen and dispersed, friends and colleagues departed.

Forum has had another pleasing year across the board - our fortnightly online sales continue to be widely and well received with regular slots now devoted to modern literature and travel books, maps and atlases. We held 25 of these timed auction events over the past year.


The second edition of Lactantius’ Opera printed by Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz in Rome in 1468 includes extracts from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Dante’s Commedia. It is the first appearance of Dante in print. This copy has an estimate of £40,000-60,000 at Forum Auctions’ May 30 sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper.

We hosted two further sales of early English books from the Fox Pointe Manor Library with the hammer total for the five parts we have now sold standing at just shy of £2m. Further additional single-owner offerings over the past year included two selections from Norman Bobins’ magnificent library of colour plate books.

Our bi-monthly Fine Books and Manuscripts sales always offer an eclectic mix of subjects and this year have included wonderful prints and drawings of India from the collection of the late WG and Mildred Archer; books from the library of Sir William Stirling-Maxwell; books and manuscripts from the Eyre-Matcham-Nelson collection; and a host of individual and larger collections from consignors all around the globe.

Additionally, our Prints department has developed strongly with each sale offering a host of images from Rembrandt and Dürer to Lichtenstein and Hockney and it has maintained the firm’s 20% market share in authenticated Banksy editions.

Averaging an auction a week and with a pipeline of business stronger than ever, I am in awe of the work my colleagues, the young and the experienced, get through in order to ensure that vendors who have entrusted their property to us are provided with the best possible service; that potential bidders are made fully aware of the contents of every lot; that buyers receive their invoices, shipping quotes and purchases in a timely and professional manner; that every lot has at least one quality photograph; that lots are thoroughly researched, evaluated and carefully described; and that all customers are greeted with a smile and receptive ear.

All of us at Forum look forward to continuing to play our part in ‘the rare book world’ - a stage-play, more comedy than tragedy, with much audience participation and a wonderful cast.

Rupert Powell, Managing Director of Forum Auctions, sponsor of ATG’s Books, Maps & Prints 2024