• <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts<br>Online Auction 5–15 June</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> Machiavelli.<br><i>Il Principe,</i> Florence, 1532, later Danish half calf. £70,000 to £90,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> The Sundial of Ahaz, two diagrams on a leaf from Nicholas of Lyra's <i>Literal Commentary,</i> [France, c.1360-80]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> Homer. <i>The whole works,</i> translated by Chapman, London, [1616?], calf. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 5–15 June:</b> Jonathan Swift. Autograph letter signed, to the Duke of Dorset, in support of his friend Thomas Sheridan, 22 March 1735. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Pablo Neruda, <i>Canto General,</i> first edition, signed by Neruda, artists Rivera & Siquieros, CDMX, 1950. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> James Joyce, <i>Ulysses,</i> deluxe limited issue, signed, London, 1936. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Sergei Rachmaninoff, Autograph Musical Quotation Signed, 3 bars from <i>Piano Concerto No. 2,</i> 1933. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Thomas Edison, Typed Letter Signed, describing preparing first phonograph for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, 1922. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Robert Frost, <i>Collected Poems,</i> author’s presentation copy, signed with <i>Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening</i> inscribed, NY, 1930. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Thomas Mann, Autograph Letter Signed to his children, 3 pages on exiles, 1938. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Alighiero Boetti & Anne-Marie Sauzeau-Boetti, <i>Classifying the thousand longest rivers in the world,</i> limited edition, 1977. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Agnes Martin, <i>Paintings & Drawings,</i> complete set of 10 lithographs, 1990. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 17:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Autograph Letter Signed to Whig activist George W. Rives, Springfield, 1849. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Tolomeo, Claudio. <i>Cosmographia.</i> Ulma, Lienhart Holle, 16.07.1482.<br>€ 50.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Hondius, Henricus, & Johannes Janssonius. <i>Atlas novus, sive descriptio geographica totius orbis terrarum.</i> Amsterdam, Hondius-Janssonius, 1638. €30.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Castiglione, Baldassarre. <i>Il libro del cortegiano del conte Baldesar Castiglione.</i> Venice, eredi di Aldo, 1528. € 14.000+
    <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Bayer, Johann. <i>Uranometria, omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata, aereis laminis expressa.</i> Augusta, Christoph Mang, 1603.<br>€ 12.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> [Astronomy]. <i>[Scriptores Astronomici veteres].</i> Venezia, Aldo Manuzio, 1499.<br> € 7.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Aristophanes. <i>Aristofanous Komoidiai ennea. Aristophanis Comoediae novem.</i> Venice, Aldo Manuzio, 1498. € 7.000+
    <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Herodotus. <i>Hirodotou logoi ennea [...] Herodoti libri novem quibus musarum indita sunt nomina.</i> Venice, Aldo Manuzio, 1502. € 7.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Tory, Geoffroy. <i>L’art & science de la vraye proportion des lettres attiques, ou antiques.</i> Paris, Vincent Gaultherot, 1549. € 5.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Caterina da Siena. <i>Epistole devotissime de sancta Catharina da Siena.</i> Venice, Aldo Manuzio, 1500. € 4.500+
    <center><b>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>June 22, 2021</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> [Chess]. Gianuzio della Manzia, Orazio. <i>Libro nel quale si tratta della maniera di giuocar' a scacchi con alcuni sottilissimi partiti.</i> Torino, Antonio Bianchi, 1597. € 3.000+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> Newton, Isaac. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.</i> Amsterdam, Compagnie di Amsterdam, 1714. €2.500+
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, June 22:</b> [Turkish Empire]. Ramberti, Benedetto. <i>Libri tre delle cose de Turchi.</i> Venice, eredi di Aldo, 1539. €1.500+
  • <b><center>Doyle<br>Fine Literature<br>Online Auction<br>June 8 to June 22</b>
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> CALDWELL, ERSKINE. <i>Tobacco Road,</i> First Edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> ELIOT, GEORGE. <i>Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life.</i> Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1871-72. First edition in book form. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> BYRON, GEORGE GORDON NOEL, LORD. <i>Don Juan.</i> London: the Thomas Davison; John Hunt; John and H.L. Hunt, 1819-24. First edition. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> [BURNEY, FRANCES]. <i>Evelina, Or, A Young Lady's Entrance into the World.</i> London: T. Lowndes, 1778. First edition. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Doyle<br>Fine Literature<br>Online Auction<br>June 8 to June 22</b>
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> SHEPARD, ERNEST H. Colored drawing of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet, in an autograph letter signed by Shepard. Dated February 29th, 1932. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> CARROLL, LEWIS (CHARLES LUTWIDGE DODGSON). <i>The Nursery "Alice".</i> London: MacMillan, 1890. Second (first published) edition. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> DANA, RICHARD HENRY, Jr. <i>Two Years Before the Mast.</i> New York, 1840. First edition with an autograph letter signed by Dana laid-in. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Doyle, Fine Literature:</b> FINE BINDING-RIVIERE] HAZLITT, WILLIAM. <i>Liber Amoris: or, the New Pygmalion.</i> London: John Hunt, 1823. First edition. $3,000 to $5,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2021 Issue

Scholars Turned Sleuths Find Source of Auctioned Cortes Letters – Stolen from the Mexican National Archives

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One of the stolen Cortes letters.

Theft of books and manuscripts has long been an intractable problem for library and other institutional collections. The presence now of a stolen book database makes it harder for thieves to sell this material, but unfortunately, institutions are not always aware of what is missing. Sometimes they don't even know what they have. The result is this sort of merchandise can show up for sale at auctions or from dealers with no one being the wiser. That takes us to this story of ten letters and documents five centuries old whose theft has only recently been made clear.

 

The letters were written by Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes, whose conquest of Mexico was one of the more momentous events in the history of the Americas. By convincing some natives to help fight others, he was able to defeat and end the Aztec Empire, a people not prepared to suddenly be invaded by a brutal foe. Cortes' historic role made these letters very valuable. While Cortes letters are uncommon, this sizable group of them started showing up at auction in 2017, ten in all between then and 2020.

 

This unexpected activity led a group of scholars based in Mexico to become suspicious. They began looking at past auctions and, according to Reuters, found Cortes documents had been sold at Swann's, Christie's, Bonhams, and Nate D. Sanders between 2017-2020. But, where did they come from? The scholars contacted María del Carmen Martínez Martínez, a Spanish historian and expert on Cortes. That proved to be an excellent choice. Ms. Martínez Martínez had visited the National Archive of Mexico (AGN) in 2010 and 2014 and taken thousands of photographs. She began combing through them to see whether any matched the photos in the auction house listings. She found a perfect match. The writing in the auction photo document was identical to that in one of her photos, and it was even missing the same triangular shaped piece of parchment in the left margin. They knew where this one was from. Ultimately, she found matches for eight of the documents in her photographs.

 

The scholars next turned to the Genealogical Society of Utah, part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) headquartered in Salt Lake City. The church has done an amazing job of gathering genealogical evidence all over the world to enable people both in and outside of their church to determine their ancestry. They had photographs taken at AGN in 1993 on microfilm, and when those were examined, they found nine matches. A written description was also located for the tenth document.

 

AGN is located in what is believed to be a fairly secure location, a one-time prison, but their inventorying leaves much to be desired. A representative of the archive indicated that only 40% of the material has been catalogued. With the rest, they don't know what they have. In this case, the photographs enabled them to determine where these documents had been kept. Further investigation revealed that they had been neatly excised from their bindings. Considering the security, there are grave suspicions that this was an inside job.

 

The scholars notified authorities much earlier, but never saw any signs they were making serious efforts to resolve the case. That is what led them into their own sleuthing and the uncovering of the what, though not the who. Mexican and American authorities, when contacted by the press, gave little in response other than the standard “we are working on it.” Presumably, at some point we will hear from them with an explanation and maybe the names of suspects.

 

There are excellent, extensive articles on this story to be found, recently in Reuters and earlier in the El Paso Times.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:<br>Sales Exhibition Catalogue 47<br>Part II<br>The Arctic Exploration and the Search for a Northeast Passage</b>
    <b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:</b> (C. PTOLEMY) – NICOLAUS GERMANUS DONIS. “Tabula Moderna Prussie Livonie Norbegie Et Gottie.” Ulm, 1486. The first printed map of Scandinavia and the North in untouched contemporary color.
    <b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:</b> JAN HUYGEN VAN LINSCHOTEN. “Voyasie, ofte Schip.vaert...van by Noorden om langes Noorwegen de Noordt-Caep, Laplandt, Vinlandt, ruslandt, de Witte Zee, de Kusten van Kandenoes, Swetenoes, Pitzora…” Amsterdam, 1624.
    <b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:</b> FRIDTJOF NANSEN/SIGURD SCOTT-HANSEN. “Lóitnant Johansen fra 86°.14’.” A sensational documentation map from one of the most famous and important polar expeditions in the world: “The Fram Expedition 1893 – 1896.”
    <center><b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:<br>Sales Exhibition Catalogue 47<br>Part II<br>The Arctic Exploration and the Search for a Northeast Passage</b>
    <b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:</b> JOSEPH PAUL GAIMARD. “Voyage de la Commision scientific du Nord , en Scandinavie, en Laponie, au Spitsberg et aux Feröe pendant les années 1838, 1839 et 1840, sur la corvette La Recherche...M. Paul Gaimard”.
    <b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:</b> PHILIPP JOHANN VON STRAHLENBERG. “Nova Descriptio Geographica Tattariae Magnae Tam Orientalis Quam Occidentalis In Particularibus…” Stockholm – Berlin (1730). The original Swedish edition.
    <b>Galleri Bygdoy Allé:</b> FREDERICK DE WIT. “Totius Europa Littora Novissime edita.” Contemporary hand-coloured engraving, Amsterdam c. 1675 – 80.
  • <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [CIVIL WAR] -- [SHERIDAN, Philip Henry]. Personal headquarters flag of Philip Henry Sheridan used when he led the 2nd Michigan Cavalry. Spring - Summer 1862. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [EARLY PHOTOGRAPHY]. Half plate daguerreotype of firefighter Walter Van Erven Dorens. [San Francisco]: n.p., [ca 1854-1856]. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [LINCOLNIANA]. Abraham Lincoln banner possibly made for the 1864 presidential campaign. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [REVOLUTIONARY WAR - CONTINENTAL CONGRESS]. [HOLTEN, Dr. Samuel]. An archive of letters related to Danvers, Massachusetts, physician and statesman Dr. Samuel Holten. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD]. CARBUTT, John, photographer. Exceptional collection of 27 stereoviews from the series, "Excursion to the 100th Meridian, October 1866." Chicago, [1866]. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [ALASKAN GOLD RUSH]. William Steele West and family, extensive archive of photographs, diaries, correspondence, and personal items. [Ca 19th - 20th century]. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [TAYLOR, Zachary]. Quarter plate daguerreotype featuring the 12th President of the United States. N.p.: n.p., [ca 1845]. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [WASHINGTON, George]. Signed Society of the Cincinnati document. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph endorsement signed ("A. Lincoln"), as President. [Washington], 29 September 1862. 1 page, 4to, old creases. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <center><b>Cowan’s<br>American Historical Ephemera<br>& Photography<br>June 25, 2021</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> JEFFERSON, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th. Jefferson"), as United States President, to Robert Patterson. Washington DC, 2 July 1805. 1 page, 4to, evenly toned, small tear from seal. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [EARLY PHOTOGRAPHY] -- [ALCOTT, Elizabeth Sewall]. Ninth plate ruby ambrotype attributed to Elizabeth Sewall Alcott. N.p., [ca 1856-1857]. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 25:</b> [WESTERN AMERICANA]. RUSSELL, Andrew Joseph, photographer. <i>Salt Lake City, From the Top of the Tabernacle.</i> [1869]
  • <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> AN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE COPY OF “GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.” SWIFT, JONATHAN. 1667-1745. London: Benj. Motte, 1726. US$ 80,000 - 120,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE. 1600-1659. <i>[Virtudes del Indio....]</i> US$ 80,000 - 120,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> ORIGINAL HARRY HOUDINI TYPED MANUSCRIPT. <i>A Magician Among the Spirits.</i> Autograph corrections by Houdini throughout, c.1923-1926.<br>US$ 20,000 - 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE OF THE RARE HARDCOVER EDITION ROWLING, J.K. <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.</i> London: Bloomsbury, 1997. US$ 30,000 - 50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 17:</b> FIRST APPEARANCE IN AMERICA OF MUSIC FOR "(AMERICA) MY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE." LYON, JAMES. 1735–1794. <i>Urania.</i> Philadelphia: William Bradford, 1761. US$ 20,000 - 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). Cañon de Chelley, 1904. Oversized orotone, 17 x 22in in original Curtis Studio frame. US$ 30,000 - 50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). 26 cyanotypes, featuring images of Cheyenne tribes from Volume VI of <i>North American Indian,</i> c.1907, made by Curtis in the field. US$ 30,000 - 50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). The Vanishing Race, 1904. Oversized orotone, 18 x 24in in original Curtis Studio frame. US$ 20,000 - 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> EDWARD S. CURTIS (1868-1952). Autograph Logs and Journals from his 1927 Alaska Expedition. US$ 7,000 - 9,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 30:</b> A ONE SHEET POSTER OF <i>IN THE LAND OF THE HEAD HUNTERS.</i> World Film Corporation, 1914. US$ 4,000 - 6,000

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