Heralding the end of winter, March is a busy month for most auction houses, and for Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, this rings especially true. With no less than five auctions dealing in works on paper between their London and Rome locations, you're likely to find something of interest in their sales of Antiquarian and Rare Books, Autographs and Memorabilia, The Bibliophile Sale, and Modern & Contemporary Editions. For this writeup though, we'll take a quick look at the March 17th sale of 20th Century Books and Works on Paper. Featuring 278 lots modestly estimated, a range of reprinted material, fiction, maps, and drawings make for an interesting subject variety.
The sale's headline lot has been called the most important work from the Kelmscott Press, and arguably the greatest of all private press book. The item in question is Chaucer's The Works......now newly imprinted. One of 425 copies on Perch paper, this was the last book published by the Kelmscott Press before founder William Morris passed. A loosely-inserted envelope contains a newspaper cutting from The Daily Telegraph of November 5th 1901 concerning the Sotheby's sale of F.S. Ellis' [the editor of The Works] collection of books, which included 2 copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer: "...the Chaucer was one of the thirteen examples on vellum to make a first appearance at auction, and Mr. Quaritch had to go to £510 before he secured possession.' Listed as lot 101, The Works......now newly imprinted is estimated £15,000–20,000 and is the highest estimated item in the sale.
The second highest estimated item diverges from Chaucer's reprinting in both subject and language. Verve, the French artistic and literary magazine, published its Revue Artistique et Littéraire from 1937 to 1960. The complete run of thirty eight issues is available as a single lot in the sale and features original illustrations by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, among others. Estimated £10,000–15,000 as lot 171, complete sets of this important periodical are rare.
Several books by Sir Ian Fleming are being sold, with two being rare first editions. These two books are On Her Majesty's Secret Service, published in 1963, (also number 176 of 250 copies signed by the author), and Moonraker, published in 1955. Both books make for an excellent starting point or addition to a Fleming or British contemporary literature collection. They are available as lots 218 and 216 and estimated £5,000–7,000 and £3,000–4,000 respectively.
Continuing the trend of complete runs, The New Naturalist Library, a series of books published by Collins in the UK on a variety of natural history topics relevant to the British Isles, is also being made available. Published from 1945-2015, this is a numbered series with a low print run for some volumes, making it highly collectable. Listed as lot 205, it is estimated £3,500–4,500.
Set to take place March 17th at 1 p.m. London time (GMT), viewings of the sale will take place March 15th 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, March 16th 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, and the day opf sale from 9:30 am (all times GMT). Bidding is available through the expected avenues including in person, over the phone, and internet. Anyone wishing to bid must register for the sale prior. Online registration may be done so here, while phone or live bidding requires filling out a registration form and delivering to Bloomsbury.
The online catalog for 20th Century Books and Works on Paper is viewable online on Bloomsbury's website.