Collectors compete with dealers at Swann April 21 Early Printed Books auction

NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ auction of Early Printed Books on Tuesday, April 21 saw active participation by collectors, and nine of the top 20 lots were purchased for private collections.

The sale’s top lot was Jean de la Fontaine, Fables Choisies, with engraved plates after Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Paris, 1755-59, which sold to a collector for $8,400—well above its presale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. An illustration from the book was the cover image of the auction catalog. All prices realized include 20 percent buyer’s premium.

Other 18th-century highlights included two official accounts of Captain Cook’s voyages, John Hawkesworth’s An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, first edition, London, 1773, $3,120, and Cook and Furneaux’s A Voyage towards the South Pole and Round the World, first edition, London, 1777, $5,040.

Among a selection of Bibles were two portions of a Bible in Latin, Biblia cum Postillis Nicolai de Lyra; volume 4, Nuremberg, 1487, $4,080, and volumes 1 and 3 (of 4), Venice, 1489, $4,800; as well as The Newe Testament . . . , Bible in English, London, 1583, $2,880; The Holy Bible [with The Book of Common Prayer], London, 1679-80, in Restoration binding, and with fore-edge painting, $2,640; and The Holy Bible in English, first Quarto edition of the revised authorized version prepared by F.S. Paris and H. Therold, Cambridge, 1762, $3,120.

Also of religious interest were Modus bene vivendi in Christianam religionem, attributed to Saint Bernard, Venice, 1494, $4,080; and Pontificale s[ecundu]m Ritu[m] Sacrosancte Romane ecclesie, the second Giunta Pontificale, Florence, 1520, richly illustrated with woodcuts, $4,800.

From the science section was Robert Fludd, Tomus Secundus de uspernaturali, naturali, praeternaturali et contranaturali Microcosmi historia, first edition of a work on metaphysics, two parts in one, Oppenheim, 1619, $3,360; Sir Francis Bacon, Of the Advancement and Proficiencie of Learning, first edition in English, Oxford, 1640, $3,360; and Karl Friedrich Gauss, Recherches Arithmétiques, first edition in French, Paris, 1807, $2,880.

Other highlights included four works by the Greek geographer Strabo, among them De situ orbis, fifth edition of the Latin translation, Venice, 1494, $3,120; Olaus Magnus, Archbishop of Upsala, Historia de gentibus septentrionalis, first edition of his monumental work on Scandinavia, Rome, 1555, $4,320; Geoffrey Chaucer, The Workes, London, 1602, $2,880; and Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays . . . done into English . . . by John Florio, London, 1613, $2,640.

The auction concluded with a section of Books on Books chiefly from the Estate of Helmut N. Friedlaender. Among these were Albert Schramm, Der Bilderschmuck der Frühdrucke, first edition of a colossal illustrated catalog of illustrations in German incunabula, Leipzig, 1922-43, $2,640; a facsimile of the Rothschild Miscellany, two volumes, one of 550 numbered sets, London, 1989, $2,640; and a facsimile of the North French Hebrew Miscellany, two volumes, one of 360 numbered sets, London, 2003, $4,320.

An illustrated catalog, with complete prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Auction Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at

For further information, and to propose consignments of Early Printed Books to autumn 2009 auctions, please contact Tobias Abeloff at 212-254-4710, extension 18, or