AMSTERDAM – Collectors of rare books and prints are “en garde” as Adams Amsterdam Auctions prepares for its auction debut on Oct. 24, with Internet live bidding available worldwide through LiveAuctioneers.com. The new Dutch auction house will launch its operation with a highly important collection of books and prints that includes approximately 250 antique publications on the subject of fencing. Additional lots deal with various other forms of self-defense as depicted in books of hundreds of years ago.
In centuries past, it was imperative for gentlemen to learn the art of fencing as a means of self-protection against highwaymen, muggers or disagreeable characters one might encounter at a pub. For this very reason, universities in European cities developed fencing schools, and numerous books about fencing were published.
The oldest book in the collection to be auctioned by Adams Amsterdam Antiques dates to 1531 and is titled Der Allten Fechter Grundtliche Kunst (The Ancient Art of Fencing). Illustrated with beautiful wood engravings, this rare edition entered in the sale as lot 30 is estimated at $7,500-$10,500.
Italian Angelo Domenico Malevolti (1716-1802), subsequently to be called simply “Angelo,” was the fencing teacher of the English Royal Family. In 1763 in London, he published the French-language book L’ecole des Armes (School of Arms), with 47 engravings demonstrating various fencing tactics. The copy to be auctioned by Adams is beautifully hand colored. Estimate $6,000-$9,000.
Another classic work is the 1607 first edition of the book Wapenhandelinghe (weapons handling) with 117 engravings by the Dutch artist Jacob de Gheyn to illustrate exercises in the use of the musket. The book was commissioned by Stadtholder Prince Maurits of Orange, and the first engraving is signed in ink by de Gheyn himself. Maurits used to give copies of this particular title as a gift to friendly heads of state, high nobles and commanders-in-chief of the army as a means of reinforcing his own reputation as a military man. Estimate $9,000-$12,000.
The French artist Hubert Francois Gravelot (1699-1773) made a series of engravings depicting exercises in the use of rifle and bayonet by the Infantry of France’s King Louis XV, Planches Gravées D’après Plusieurs, 1766. The hand-colored plates display the rich colors of French military uniforms, which were in glaring contrast to the drab camouflage gear worn by soldiers of other nations. Estimate $3,000-$4,500.
A premier lot is a 17th-century wrestling book written by Nicolaes Petter and illustrated by Romeyn de Hooghe (1645-1708) titled Der kunstliche Ringer. A superior copy in a 19th-century French binding, it contains 71 etched plates by one of the most prolific Dutch Baroque artists of his day. Some of the plates in the book are famous as early illustrations of judo and jujitsu in Western society. Estimate $4,500- $6,000
In addition to the books on fencing and other combative arts, the auction includes books on many other subjects, such as natural history, art, literature, history, gastronomy, etc. One of several lots worthy of special mention is the world’s first encyclopedia, the 1787 Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert. This extraordinary first edition is the finest, most extensive and famous encyclopedic work on the sciences, arts and professions of the 18th century, and is a revolutionary monument in the history of European thought. The importance of the frequently republished but never surpassed original edition is reflected in the contributions of more than 200 philosophers, writers, scientists and jurists of the Era of Enlightenment, including Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Buffon, Marmontel, Necker, Condorcet, and Turgot, among others. The set consists of 35 folio volumes with around 22,000 pages and 3,129 copper engravings. Estimate $37,500-$52,500.
Adams Amsterdam Auctions’ premiere sale takes place on Oct. 24. For questions on any lot in the sale, contact the company in Amsterdam by calling 011 31 20 737 04 11 or emailing email@example.com.
View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet through www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
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ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE