Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2021 Issue

Catalogue Three Released by Voewood Rare Books


The third catalogue from Voewood Rare Books.

Voewood Rare Books has released their Catalogue Three. The British bookseller is offering a mix of material which we promise, even if not based on a particular theme, is very interesting. They note it starts with the beginning of mass printing with movable type and ends at the dawn of the computer age. It's all about communication. They even have the book which they say contains “the earliest published picture of a potato.” We won't tell you what it is. You will have to get the catalogue. For the unexpected, they are offering an Aston Martin. The literary connection, of course, is James Bond. It is a DB6, and Bond drove a DB5, but it's close. Maybe a new Aston Martin was out of James' price range. Voewood has not revealed a price for the Aston Martin, but, you know, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Here are a few selections from this latest Voewood catalogue other than cars and potatoes.


We begin by going back to the beginning, the first complete book printed with movable type. Of course, that would be the Gutenberg Bible, but no one is selling complete Gutenbergs anymore. This is what is known as a “noble fragment,” a single leaf taken from that illustrious 1455 printing job. Most of the leaves that are available these days come from a copy that was broken apart by New York bookseller Gabriel Wells in 1921. He did not destroy a copy of the world's most iconic book. He had a copy that was already missing 50 leaves when he broke it up and sold them one-by-one, or sometimes in groups. These days, even a single leaf is outside of the means of most people and there were 644 of them in a complete bible. Item 1. Priced at £100,000 (British pounds or approximately $137,500 in U.S. dollars).


This item was the start of short-lived career for a very talented but equally tragic family. There was tragedy at an early age for the three Bronte sisters, their mother and two older sisters dying when they were young. They overcame the misfortune by becoming very close and writing stories of a make-believe world they invented. That would serve them well when they grew older. In 1846, they decided to publish a book of poetry. Since women writers were always at a disadvantage in terms of esteem at this time, they chose the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Those names were chosen for their gender neutrality – you could imagine they were men or women, whichever you preferred. In reality, they were Charlotte, Ann, and Emily Bronte. They must have had great confidence their book Poems by Currer, Ellis and Action Bell would be popular as they printed a thousand copies. They sold two or three and distributed 39. They gave some away, but most of the pages languished without any interest. The sisters turned to writing novels instead and this time the response was totally different. In 1847, Charlotte would publish the enormously successful Jane Eyre, and after that Ann and Emily would also experience great success, though at first they still chose to be anonymous. Making the most of their success, the publisher of Poems, Smith, Elder and Co., figured this time the book now had a market. They bought the books from the sisters and issued a new title page, still with the 1846 date. Item 21 is one of those second issue copies but an unusual one. It is one of a very few that still used the Aylott and Jones binding used on the first issue, but it is a second issue as it has the 1848 advertisements. The rest of their tragic story is well known. Ann and Emily, as well as their only brother, died before 1850, and even Charlotte, the last survivor, died in 1855 at age 38, the longest surviving Bronte sister. £9,500 (US $13,032).


William Blake was likely the greatest artist-engraver who ever lived. We know that now. Unfortunately, most people did not realize that during his lifetime. His success was modest, with financial difficulties often an issue. By the time he reached his sixties, he was again struggling. This time he got a break. His friend, the financially successful painter John Linnell, recognized Blake's extraordinary talent and his financial need. He commissioned Blake's last book, Illustrations of the Book of Job. Blake could have related to Job, enormous struggles, but, hopefully, redemption in the end. Blake set about engraving a set of his illustrations of Job, while Linnell provided an income of £1 per week to support the artist. This work, dated 1825 but not published until 1826, is the outcome of the commission. This copy is one of 65 sets on French paper out of a total run of 315. The image on the cover of this catalogue is of Job, attempting to sleep but filled with terrifying visions. Item 3. £57,500 (US $78,877).


Here is a look at rural life in the late nineteenth century. It is a selection of ten photographs author/photographer P. H. (Peter Henry) Emerson created in 1890 from his book Pictures of East Anglian Life. These are pictures Emerson elected from his earlier book of the same name. This copy has a pasted-in “Preface” from Emerson. It explains that Emerson selected ten of his best plates from the earlier work for a limited edition of 75, which he gave to museums, galleries and others. And a laid-in note adds that this copy was for a museum and was presented by the author. A further notes explains his philosophy of photography and describes his practice for creating artist's photographs. The photographs are of rural scenes, including farm life and other country activities. Item 13. £5,000 (US $6,848).


This comes from the other end of the five centuries covered by this catalogue. It is a collection of 12 documents pertaining to the early development of computers. Item 31 is a collection of books, typescript and manuscript notes from the late 1950s concerning the Farranti Pegasus computer. Some, including the notes, come from a course for programming the Pegasus. It didn't have a keyboard but no worry. Information could be entered through a tape with holes punched in to convey the data, like the tapes used in telex machines as late as the 1980s. The documents include a 55-page booklet explaining how to use the computer and a syllabus of subjects for the Ferranti training school. One of the instructors was the father of Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the internet. Technological innovation ran in the family. While Ferranti was on the cutting edge of computer technology in the 1950s, they fell behind and focused on other products by the 1960s. There are two known Ferranti computers still in existence, but at least one and likely both no longer work. £1,750 (US $2,053.)


Voewood Rare Books may be reached at +44 (0) 1263 715539, andrew@voewood.com or simon@simonfinch.com. Their website is found at www.voewoodrarebooks.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <i>Der Sturm.</i> 1922. Sold October 2021 for € 13,000.
    Diophantus Alexandrinus, <i>Arithmeticorum libri sex.</i> 1670. Sold October 2021 for € 18,000.
    <i>Cozzani Ettore e altri, l’Eroica. Tutto il pubblicato.</i> Sold October 2021 for € 11,000.
    Newton Isaac, <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.</i> 1714. Sold October 2021 for € 7,500.
    Manetti Saverio, <i>Storia naturale degli uccelli.</i> 1767-1776. Sold April 2021 for € 26,000.
  • <center><br>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases<br>Natural History<br>& Color Plate Books<br>December 9, 2021</b>
    <b>Swann, Dec. 9:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. Carolina Parrot. Plate 26. Hand-colored aquatint and engraved plate from Audubon's <i>Birds of America.</i> $80,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann, Dec. 9:</b> Francisco Henrique Carls. [Album de Pernambuco e seus Arrabaldes]. Fifty-three chromolithographed plates of landscape, town views and more of the state of Pernambuco, northeast Brazil. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann, Dec. 9:</b> Captain Thomas Davies, after. Group of 5 engraved topographical scenes of North American waterfalls. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <center><br>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases<br>Natural History<br>& Color Plate Books<br>December 9, 2021</b>
    <b>Swann, Dec. 9:</b> William R. Morley. Morley's Map of New Mexico. Large lithographed pocket map with original hand-color in outline. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann, Dec. 9:</b> Frederick William Beechey, et al. <i>The Zoology of Captain Beechey's Voyage; Compiled from the Collections and Notes Made by Captain Beechey…</i> $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann, Dec. 9:</b> ZUDA ROKASHI (Priest Hotan.) Nansenbushu Bankoku Shoka No Zu. Woodblock wall map of the world on 16 sheets joined. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b><center> Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 29th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b> Latin Book of Hours, Langres around 1490. Est: €50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>T. Livius, <i>Römische Historien,</i> 1533. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>G. Mendel, <i>Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden,</i> 1865-66. Est: €30,000
    <b><center> Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 29th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>A. Verard, Book of Hours, around 1488. Est: €30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>A. Ortelius, <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum,</i> 1601. Est: €80,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br><i>Der Sturm,</i> 1910-1916. Est: €16,000
    <b><center> Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 29th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b> <i>Cronica van der hilliger Stat Coellen,</i> 1499. Est: €25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>M. Catesby, <i>Piscium serpentum insectorum,</i> 1777. Est: €25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>W. Grohmann, <i>Das Werk Ernst Ludwig Kirchners,</i> 1926. Est: €20,000
    <b><center> Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 29th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>P. Borgo, <i>Aritmetica mercantile,</i> 1491. Est: €16,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b><br>D. Roberts, <i>Egypt and Nubia,</i> 1846-49. Est: €8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, Nov. 29:</b> <i>Estampes,</i> with the suite by P. Picasso, 1950. Est: €15,000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Zang Tumb Tuuum:<br>la révolution futuriste<br>Online Auction<br>30 November – 7 December</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 18:</b> The "Official Edition" of the United States Constitution and the First Printing of the Final Text of the Constitution, 1787. $15,000,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 30 – Dec. 7:</b> Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso. I Paroliberi Futuristi. 1914-1915. 8 p. Unique corrected proofs, for an anthology that remained unpublished. €40,000 to €60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 30 – Dec. 7:</b> Cangiullo, Francesco. Studenti in Lettere. Università. 1915. Seminal work, featured in 3 historical futurist exhibitions. €20,000 to €30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 30 – Dec. 7:</b> Cangiullo, Francesco. Chiaro di luna. Circa 1915. Collage and gouache on paper. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 30 – Dec. 7:</b> Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso. Manicure. Faire les ongles à l'Italie. Circa 1915. A fantastic parody of an advertising poster. €20,000 to €30,000.
  • <b><center>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>December 9</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 47. Roosevelt, Theodore. Photograph inscribed to Morris J. Hirsch. May 7th 1918. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 178. Whitman, Walt. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York: [Printed for the author], 1955. First edition in the first issue binding. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 38. Mather, Cotton. <i>Magnalia Christi Americana; or, the Ecclesiastical History of New-England.</i> London: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, 1702. First edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 55. Taylor, Zachary. Autograph letter signed as President-Elect. Baton Rouge: January 15, 1849. $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 203. Picasso, Pablo. <i>Verve</i> Vol. V, Nos. 19-20. Paris: Editions Verve, 1948. Inscribed on the title page by Picasso. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b><center>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>December 9</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 211. Domergue, Jean-Gabriel. L'Ete a Monte Carlo. Lithographed poster, Lucien Serre & Cie, Paris, circa 1937. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 105. Manuscript Illumination attr. to Neri da Rimini. Large excised initial "N" from a choirbook, extensively historiated. [Likely Rimini: first quarter of the 14th century]. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 40. McKenney, Thomas L. and Hall, James. <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs.</i> Philadelphia: Rice, Rutter & Co., 1870. $3,00
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 222. Searle, Ronald. [Pets--a dog, cats and a parrot-- surrounded by books, and inspecting a globe, perhaps planning global domination]. Original drawing, 17 3/8 x 13 1/2 inches. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 98. Faden, William; Scull, Nicholas and George Heap. A Plan of the City and Environs of Philadelphia, Survey'd by N. Scull and G. Heap. London: William Faden, 12 March 1777. $3,000 to $5,000.

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