Gripping account of Capt. James Cook’s fatal voyage offered in Mar. 29 auction
NEW YORK – On Wednesday, March 29, starting at 7 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will offer a sale of 15th- to 19th-century antique books. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The March 29 sale presents more than 900 lots of books that are at least a century old, and many are much older. Lurking among the Bibles, bound sermons, books of common prayer, tomes denouncing heretics and assorted religious texts are literary gems such as a 25-volume set of the works of satirist Jonathan Swift, published in English in 1768; a five-volume illustrated set of the works of Goethe from 1885, also in English; a 1534 two-volume edition of the Iliad and the Odyssey in Greek; a 10-volume German work from 1774 on the engineering, technology and construction of movable bridges, wells, canals and similar infrastructure; a two-volume version of the tale of Robinson Crusoe in French, dating to 1836; and a three-volume history of the French Revolution by Thomas Carlyle, published in London in 1837.
Worthy of special mention is a group of individual lots of books relating to Charles Darwin and those in his circle, as well as the theory of evolution. Works authored by Darwin himself include an 1871 American first edition of Descent of Man, an 1877 copy of The Effects of Cross & Self Fertilisation in Vegetable Kingdom, and a two-volume 1876 work titled The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestification. Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus is represented by an 1880 biography by Ernst Krause that includes what is called a “preliminary notice” by Charles Darwin. Charles’s first cousin and Erasmus’s grandson Francis Galton appears in the form of an 1889 edition of his book Natural Inheritance, and Thomas Huxley, who so ardently defended Darwin’s ideas that he earned the nickname Darwin’s Bulldog, contributes an 1863 American first edition of his book dubbed Origin of Species: The Causes of Phenomena of Organic Nature.
The main highlights of the sale include two folio volumes of law books by Rene Choppin, published in 1589 in French. Choppin (1537-1606) is described as a French jurisconsult, a lawyer at the court in the Parliament of Paris, a scholar and a poet. The calfskin-bound law books are estimated at $1,500-$2,000.
Also featured is a three-volume vellum-bound set of the works of Galileo Galilei, printed in 1718 in Italian and edited by Tommaso Bonaventura. It omits the Dialogo as it was on the Index of Prohibited Books at the time it was published. It contains a pleasing engraved frontispiece portrait of the famed scientist and is described as being in “Very good condition,” with a “minor marginal faded dampstain on few pages of Vol. I.” It is estimated at $6,000-$7,000.
Completing the highlights is a 1784 four-volume account of Captain James Cook’s third voyage, during which he discovered the Hawaiian islands and met his end. The lot notes quote a reviewer as saying “This abridged account is preferred by some readers because, the nautical and technical parts having been deleted, the work reads more like an adventure.” Its estimate is $2,500-$3,000.
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