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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

From Choirbooks to Comics

A wide world of Books, manuscripts, maps, and Fine art recently sold at auction By Ian McKay Ian McKay’s weekly column in Antiques Trade Gazette has been running for more than thirty years.

Vintage Poster Appeal

Literary poster, $4,000 at Swa nn Galleries on December 17, 2014.

Courtesy of Swann Galleries and Heritage Auctions.

The ‘Western’ item, dating from 1902, was part of a large Californian collection of literary posters, and the Navajo Indian (seen above) promotes the October issue of Sunset, a magazine “About California and the West.” The work of Lafayette Maynard Dixon, the image proved so popular that it was re-used for the February 1903 issue and then sold to subscribers in poster form, without the text. As many as 250,000 copies of the latter were sold in just four years; this one was in B+ condition.

Posters featuring the work of that master of Western art, Frederick Remington, are rare, but that seen at Swann derived from a 1901 painting, The Old Stagecoach of the Plains, advertised the January, or New Year’s number, of The Century. It too was a B+ example and thought to be the first copy seen at auction in thirty years.

‘Preach’d at Plimouth in New-England’

The Sin and Danger of Self-Love, $20,400 at Addison & Sarova in Macon, Georgia, on March 7.

Courtesy of Addison & Sarova.

Taking its title from a line in Corinthians, this sermon by Robert Cushman was first printed in England in 1622, but its real historical significance lies in the fact that it later came to be recognized as having been the very first sermon preached in Britain’s new American colonies.

One of the leaders and organizers of the Mayflower voyage, Cushman was a London-based agent for the Separatist Leiden contingent and then for the Plymouth colony established in 1621. He spent a couple of weeks there trying to persuade colonists to adhere to their contract with the Virginia Company before returning to England, where he died four years later.

The sermon was not printed in America for another hundred years but, somewhat browned in contemporary wrappers, this would appear to be the only copy of that 1724 Boston edition recorded at auction.

Birds, Bugs, and Beasts

A seventeenth-century natural history compendium, 122,500 ($191,223) at Christie’s London on November 19, 2014.

Courtesy of Christie’s.

The watercolors that illustrate this exceptional paper manuscript of 1673 cram into its 244 leaves some 350 birds, 275 zoological subjects, 30 reptiles, fish, and crustacea, 54 insects, and 94 botanical subjects. In layout and composition, the artist responsible, Johann Joachim Henneberger, modeled his compendium on seventeenth-century natural histories such as those of Aldrovandus and Willughby, but to the creatures of the natural world familiar to many of his European contemporaries he added real and imagined exotics, such as camels from Arabia, unicorns form India, a panther from Asia, even dragons and griffons, and some images are certainly more whimsical than those found in the printed works.

Henneberger’s artistic talents were not restricted to the natural history, for in his hometown of Wiesensteig in southern Germany—the scene of a famous witch hunt and trial in the mid-sixteenth century—he also painted the roof of the church of St. Cyriakus.

Words, Words, Words

Moral Essays on Some of the Most Curious and Significant English, Scotch and Foreign Proverbs, $390, and a lot containing five books of Russian proverbs, $7,200, at Addison & Sarova of Macon, Georgia, on July 25.

Courtesy of Addison & Sarova.

The first part of the library of collector Robert Easton headed to auction this past July. Easton was affectionately dubbed the “Henry Higgins of Hollywood,” working as a language and dialect coach on many films over five decades. Easton began work in Hollywood as an actor, however his true passion was language, and his favorite hobby was collecting books.

“While ‘on location,’ from London to Shanghai and across 60-odd years of traveling, I have lovingly collected poetry, prose, humor, history, culture, slang and local literature … often on my hands and knees in seedy secondhand bookstores, sweltering swap meets and fortuitous flea markets. What a great time I had!,” said Easton, reflecting on his wonderfully diverse collection of books, many of them related to language and dialect.

At the auction, steady prices were had for a large selection of proverbs offered individually and in shelf-lots—many of them sourced from the William Stirling-Maxwell collection of proverbs from Keir House, Scotland. The book pictured here, Moral Essays on Some of the Most Curious and Significant English, Scotch and Foreign Proverbs (London, 1710), grouped with two other titles, sold for $390. A lot containing five books of Russian proverbs stole the show, selling to an online bidder from Russia for $7,200.

Part II of the Easton auction featuring what the auctioneer called “the cream of the crop from Easton’s collection” is scheduled for November 7.

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