• <center><b>Chiswick Auctions</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Rumphius (Georgius Everhardus). <i>D’Ambionsche Rariteitkamer,</i> FIRST EDITION, 61 handcoloured engraved plates, 1705. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Collodi (Carlo) Le avventure di Pinocchio. <i>Storia di un burattino,</i> FIRST EDITION, frontispiece and 61 illustrations by Enrico Mazzanti, 1883. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> De Bry (T, J T & J I). <i>[Great Voyages, part IV] Americae sive Insignis & Admiranda Historia de Reperta primum Occidentali India,</i> FIRST EDITION, 23 engraved plates, 1594. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Wine & Beer.-Kellermaysterey. <i>Gründtlicher bericht wie man alle wein Teütscher und Welscher landen vor allen zufallen bewaren...,</i> 16 leaves of manuscript notes, 1548. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Table Globe'- Doppelmayr (J G) & Puschner (J G, engraver). An 8-inch German terrestrial table Globe, diameter c.200 mm, height c.300 mm, 1730. £6,000 to £8,000
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions</b
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> An album with 107 original watercolours featuring landscapes and views of various places in England, Scotland and Ireland, late 1840s. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). Black and white, landscape photograph of man on horseback, signed and inscribed by Hemingway. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Unrecorded autograph letter by Charles William Stewart to his father the Marquess of Londonerry, describing the ceremony of the presentation to Consul Bonaparte in January 1803. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Davis (William Heath). <i>Seventy-five Years in California,</i> Author's Section of the Argonaut Edition, no. 142 [of 250 copies] signed by the editor and publisher on limitation leaf. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Prussian Royal Family. Six signed photographs of members of Prussian Royal Family, in a contemporary folding triptych, ebonised wood display case. £1,500 to £2,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Very Fine. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Neill, John R. Pen-and-ink drawing from Oz, "He raised his gun, took aim and fired," $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>June 13 - New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $7,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. $1,500 to $2,500
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br><i>Breviarium Romanum,</i> before 1478. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>C. Ptolemaeus, <i>Geographie,</i> 1513.<br>Est: € 140,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Daphnis & Chloé,</i> 1961.<br>Est: € 130,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1499. Est: € 20,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>J. H. van Linschoten, <i>Itinerarium,</i> 1644. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Cirque,</i> 1967.<br>Est: € 120,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>G. L. L. Buffon, <i>Histoire naturelle des oiseaux,</i> 1765-83. Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>K. Marx, <i>Das Kapital,</i> 1867.<br>Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>P. J. Redouté, <i>Les liliacées,</i> 1802-16.<br>Est: € 120,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. E. Bloch, <i>Naturgeschichte der Fische,</i> 1782-95. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>H. A. Châtelain, <i>Atlas historique,</i> 1718-20. Est: € 18,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>Bauhausbücher, complete series, 1925-30. Est: € 28,000
  • <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> <i>Le Neptune François, ou Atlas Nouveau des Cartes Marines. Levées et Gravées par ordre exprès du Roy...</i> Paris: Hubert Jaillot, 1693 [but Amsterdam: Pieter Mortier, 1693-1700].
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> BLAEU, Willem Janszoon. <i>Le Flambeau de la Navigation monstrant la description & delineation de toutes les Costes & Havres…</i> Amsterdam: Jan Jansson, 1620.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> [WALDSEEMÜLLER, Martin.] <i>Orbis Typus Universalis Iuxta Hydrographorum Traditionem.</i> [Strasbourg: 1513].
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> KEULEN, Johannes van. <i>De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerderde Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Werelt.</i> Amsterdam: Johannes van Keulen, 1688.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> DONCKER, Hendrick. <i>De Zee-Atlas of Water-Waerelt.</i> Amsterdam: Hendrick Doncker, 1666.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> GARNIER, Francis and Ernest DOUDART DE LAGRÉE. <i>Voyage d'exploration en Indo-Chine effectué pendant les années 1866, 1867 et 1868 par une Commission Française.</i> Paris: Hachette, 1873 [-1875].

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2014 Issue

Did Someone Find Shakespeare’s Personal Dictionary on eBay?

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Leaf at end of book is filled with annotations.

It would certainly be the literary find of the century if true. It would also be the greatest piece of advertising imaginable for eBay. A pair of New York booksellers see a 16th century annotated English dictionary for sale on eBay. Thoughts of whose copy it might have been race through their minds. The handwriting is described only as “contemporary” annotations. The writer is unknown. They decide to roll the dice, placing the winning bid, reportedly $4,300. Thus begins a six-year journey to discover the annotator, or perhaps more accurately, to confirm their wildest hopes and dreams. Their conclusion could indeed be described as “self-serving.” Then again, self-serving does not necessarily mean inaccurate. They may well have been trying to prove what they wanted to believe, rather than conducting an objective analysis. Under the circumstances, how could they not? Still, that does not make their conclusion wrong. That conclusion was, of course, that this dictionary was William Shakespeare’s personal annotated copy.

 

The book is question is John Baret’s Alvearie or Quadruple Dictionarie, published in London in 1580. Printed in four languages (hence quadruple), the timing is right for Shakespeare to have owned a copy. It is known that Shakespeare used various historical books to research his plays. It is certainly not a big step to imagine he used a dictionary. However, there is no record that he did, or this one in particular. That is mere conjecture, though logical enough.

 

The annotations that booksellers George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler believe establish Shakespeare’s ownership are not lengthy. They consist of what the booksellers refer to as “spoken” and “mute” annotations. “Spoken” ones are words, “mute” ones markings, like underlines and dashes. There are no phrases like “to be or not to be,” or “Alas poor Yorick,” writings that would make it clear this was Shakespeare’s copy (or a deliberate forgery). There is no smoking gun. They have had to make many deductions from what they found, which in time will be seen as either outstanding research or flights of fantasy.

 

Of course, the nature of this book makes connections more difficult. A history book with notations about Richard III or Hamlet might imply something. While Shakespeare’s plays are undoubtedly filled with words in Baret’s dictionary, so is every other contemporary writing. It is hardly surprising that his writings would be filled with words found in a dictionary. So are mine. Koppelman and Wechsler have attempted to make a case that the uses of annotated words in his plays is such as to show a particular interest by Shakespeare in these particular ones. As to how strong is their case, that is something that will have to be left to scholars and experts. They have spent six years preparing their case, which was just released in book form a few days ago. We will undoubtedly see others now attempt to unravel it, leaving it to the objective to decide.

 

Unfortunately, some of the more obvious forms of identification are not available. The owner of this book never put his name to it. Handwriting would be an obvious source of comparison, but there are virtually no certain samples of Shakespeare’s handwriting, just a few signatures and a couple of pages whose authorship is uncertain. The paucity of such written material has encouraged people in the past to attempt to forge his work. There is not much that can be used to disprove the claims.

 

We don’t know whether testing has been done on the manuscript ink to determine whether it was contemporary to Shakespeare. That test could disprove, though not prove, a connection. It seems unlikely that someone added these annotations in an attempt to create value by pawning it off as Shakespeare’s copy. Such a forger would want to do something to better tie it to the Bard, perhaps writing the name “Hamlet” next to the word prince, not overly blatant, but something that would appear to make a connection. Besides, the price Koppelman and Wechsler paid for it on eBay does not suggest an elaborate forgery. It is likely an ancient dictionary, with very old annotations, but whose old annotations is not clear.

 

Some may be a bit troubled by the way the news has been presented. Koppelman and Wechsler conducted their own research, wrote a book about their find (which they are offering for sale on a website), and invited in a writer from the New Yorker Magazine for a lengthy interview. This is not exactly the academic/expert/library authentication route one might expect for scholarly research. Academics may not care for this. One might think that the owners would take this dictionary to the Folger Shakespeare Library for deeper research.

 

Still, it is understandable that a private owner might want an opportunity to conduct their own research first. Some academics will automatically try to knock it down. That’s just the way they are. They may be no more objective than the owners. Obviously, Koppelman and Wechsler aren’t objective observers. Their possession could be worth something less than $4,300, or some incredible number of millions of dollars. If this were my book, I know what I would be trying to prove. They are entitled to make their best case before letting the wolves at it. But now that the cat is out of the bag, the buzzards will begin circling. The dissecting will begin. In time, we will see whether their case can withstand such scrutiny. My own best guess is that neither side will be able to establish the authenticity, or lack thereof, beyond a doubt, but one side will be accepted as more likely than the other.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Bouchette (Lt.-Col.Joseph, Canadian Surveyor-General of British North America). A Plan of the Province of Upper Canada, manuscript map, [c.1790-1795]. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Browne (W.H.). Ten Coloured Views taken during the Arctic Expedition of Her Majesty's Ships "Enterprise" and "Investigator", first edition, presentation copy, 1850. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Lovelace (Ada).- Lacroix (Silvestre Francois). <i>An Elementary Treatise on the Differential and Integral Calculus,</i> first edition in English, Lovelace's copy, Cambridge, 1816. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Rackham (Arthur). <i>Grimm's Fairy Tales,</i> one of 750 copies signed by the artist, 1909. One of several signed limited editions by Rackham in the sale. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Schedel (Hartmann). <i>Liber chronicarum [German] Das Buch der Croniken und Geschichten,</i> Augsburg, Johann Schonsperger, 1500. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Gandhi, Mohandas.- Eichenberg (Fritz, German-American illustrator). Autograph inscription by Ghandi with celebrated bust-length wood-engraved portrait by Eichenberg, c.1942. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Shakespeare (William). <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> 2 vol. in 1, for Bernard Lintott, [1710-11]. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Churchill (SirWinston Spencer). Midland Conservative Club. Presidential Address Delivered by Winston Spencer Churchill, Esq., June 1st, 1899, first edition, [1899]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> [Walpole (Horace)]. <i>The Castle of Otranto, a Story,</i> first Dublin edition, Dublin, 1765. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Dickens (Charles). Sketches by "Boz," Illustrative of Every-day Life, and Every-day People, [First Series] - Second Series, together 3 vol., first editions, first issues , 1836-7. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Wilde (Oscar). [Works], 14 vol., first collected edition, one of 80 sets on Japanese vellum, Methuen & Co., 1908. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Rowling (J.K.). <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first edition, first printing, 1997. £20,000 to £30,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>John Carte, <i>The Frontispiece of the Cosmographical Clock,</i> hand-colored broadside, London, circa 1699. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>John Fisk Allen & William Sharp, <i>Victoria Regia,</i> Boston, 1854. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> George Catlin, <i>North American Indian Portfolio,</i> London, 1844. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Abraham Ortelius, <i>Islandia,</i> Antwerp, 1598. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Plancius Petrus, map of Southern Africa, Amsterdam, 1592-94. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Pieter Verbiest, <i>Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica,</i> Antwerp, 1636. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>Emil B. Fischer, <i>Map of Southwestern Colorado,</i> lithograph, 1893. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>A.P. Folie, <i>Plan of the Town of Baltimore,</i> Philadelphia, 1792. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Lewis Evans, <i>A General Map of the Middle British Colonies,</i> proof copy, annotated, signed & dated by Evans, Philadelphia, 1755. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 23:</b> Lester Beall, <i>Rural Electrification Administration,</i> 1939. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Jacob Robyn, after Arent Roggeveen, <i>The First Part of the Burning Fen,</i> with English text, Amsterdam, circa 1680. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Large bird’s-eye view of New York City, hand-painted photo, circa 1933. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Arundel Society, group of approx. 185 chromolithographed Renaissance paintings, late-19th century. $6,000 to $9,000.

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