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Antiquarian Book Auction Preview

Rachel Littlewood previews the exciting line up of antiquarian books, maps and other items that are being offered online and in the salerooms in Exeter on Wednesday, 18th March 2020.

Voyage To the Pacific Ocean (BK23/309) by Captain James Cook is being offered in
        our Books, Maps and Prints Auction starting on 18th March
        2020 at our salerooms in Exeter, Devon.

Voyage To the Pacific Ocean (BK23/309) by Captain James Cook is being offered in our Books, Maps and Prints Auction starting on 18th March 2020 at our salerooms in Exeter, Devon.

The Antiquarian Book Auction on 18th March 2020 includes two important sets of Captain Cook's Voyages, which were published near contemporaneously with the two Voyages. One set covers Cook's second voyage being 'A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World' (BK23/308) in 2 volumes, the third edition in quarto, published in 1779 (the first edition being published in 1777). The pre-sale estimate for these two volumes is £800-£1,200.

The other set deals with his third Voyage titled 'Voyage to the Pacific Ocean… Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere' (BK23/309), in three quarto volumes. This is the second edition published in 1785 (the first edition being one year earlier). This set also includes the large atlas folio volume with maps, plates and charts and is being offered with an estimate of £4,000-£6,000.

The three great voyages of Captain Cook are among the most important travel books ever published.

Also included in the travel and topography section of this auction is a rare copy of William Bligh's 'A Voyage to the South Sea, undertaken by Command of his Majesty, for the purpose of conveying the bread fruit tree to the West-Indies, in His Majesty’s Ship the Bounty ...' (BK23/295). Bligh had been on Captain Cook's third voyage as master of the Resolution. Complete with all the plates and charts, but with its covers detached, it is the first edition of the official account of the Bounty expedition. It provides a rare insight into one of the most remarkable incidents in British Naval history.

The account was taken from Bligh's own diaries, edited and seen to press by James Burney, under the direction of Sir John Banks. The estimate is £750-£1,000.

In the Natural History section of the sale, along with several other fine books on various aspects of natural history is also entered a magnificent 36 volume first edition set of Sowerby's English Botany (BK23/414). Published between 1790-1814, this monumental work is lavishly illustrated with an incredible 2,592 original hand coloured plates. For the purest, they are on beautiful uncut laid paper, the perfect state for the serious collector and are expected to realise £800-£1,200.

Children's and Illustrated books and ephemera are well represented too. John Wallis was one of the early makers of Jig-Saw puzzles. He worked with his son Edward in Skinner Street, Snow Hill, publishing maps, prints, toys and dissecting children's puzzles. In this sale, there is a rare piece of ephemera, being a single sheet printed with the alphabet (BK23/47), in original hand colouring using vibrant watercolours. Naïve in style, it depicts children at work and play. Bearing the imprint of Edward Wallis, it is possible that this print was intended to be used in a pre-cut start as a jigsaw puzzle. The pre-sale estimate is £60-£80.

There is always an interesting selection of individual antique maps in the antiquarian book auctions and this sale is no exception with some fine early maps of Crete, Speede maps of Devon, Buckinghamshire and an additional collection of eighteen uncoloured Speed maps of various counties. However in this auction, of even more interest, are four complete and scarce atlases. One of particular note is R Montgomery Martin's Tallis' Illustrated Atlas (BK23/509), folio with 79 highly finished maps with vignette views and decorative borders, circa 1860s, which is expected to realise between £1,000 and £1,500.

And finally, we must not forget the Mughal paintings (BK23/455) consisting of a 56 page manuscript, illustrated with nine gouache paintings with bodycolour on paper, heightened with gold and white, decorated borders. The paintings would appear to be of scenes from the court. Mughal painting is a particular style of South Asian painting confined to miniatures either as bool illustrations or as single works to be kept in albums. It emerged from Persian miniature painting, itself partly of Chinese origin and developed in the court of the Mughal Empire of the 16th to 18th Centuries. Bids of £1,000-£1,500 are invited.

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  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
  • Antiquarian Book Auction

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