Rare Books

Most expensive sales from April to June 2023

Welcome to our most expensive sales in April, May and June 2023. Our list features illustrated books, signed books, autographs, original art, a manuscript, and a rare facsimile.

Colonia Leopoldina in Bahia - Helvecia by Jean-Frederic Bosset de Luze - $27,745

Colonia Leopoldina in Bahia - Helvecia by Jean-Frederic Bosset de Luze
Drawing watercolor on paper, 33 cm x 48 cm.

This is a very rare watercolor painting by Jean-Frédéric Bosset de Luze (1754-1838).

Helvécia is a village community in the southern part of the Brazilian state of Bahia. Formerly known as Leopoldina, Helvécia was a former Swiss colony, and owes its name to the plantation from which it originated.

The plantation was founded in 1818, and cultivated over 90% of coffee for Bahia. By the middle of th 19th century, it had become one of the most important coffee exporters in Brazil.

This success was due to the large-scale exploitation of enslaved people, a practice supported by the federal government of the time. Slavery in Brazil was only abolished in 1888.

Sold by Apple Boutique, Drawings, Prints & Books

Autograph letter by T. E. Lawrence - $26,778

Autograph letter by T. E. Lawrence signed "TE Shaw"

This autographed letter by T. E. Lawrence was signed "TE Shaw" and dated December 22nd 1924.

At this time, Lawrence working on an autobiographical account of his experiences as an adviser to Bedouin forces during the Arab Revolt. It later served as a basis for the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia.

In the letter, Lawrence addresses a U.S. businessman who was who was eager to read his book and became one of its subscribers.

"Do you feel justified in chucking away so much on an amateur production? The writing is pretentious, dull, hysterical, egotistical, + preternaturally long."

The book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, published two years later, saw a limited print run of 200 copies.

Sold by Antiquariat INLIBRIS Gilhofer Nfg. GmbH

Lawrence on Lawrence: a really splendid example of his jauntily diffident style, and perhaps personality. That the recipient of this letter would go on to head the London Station of OSS Secret Intelligence only adds to the intrigue.
Christopher Frey (Antiquariat Inlibris)
Christopher Frey (Antiquariat Inlibris)

Layla and Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi - $23,223

Leila wa Majnun
Contemporary leather-backed gilt lacquered boards depicting floral sprays ruled and framed within corner-pieces and a gilt border.

The great Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi composed his version of the romantic love story of Layla and Majnun in the 12th century.

This is a 19th century illustrated manuscript in Farsi from the Quajar period with 26 miniature paintings depicting important scenes in the romance, painted with vivid colors in the contemporary Qajar style.

The story was described by Lord Byron as “the Romeo and Juliet of the east", and it inspired Eric Clapton to write his song Layla.

Sold by Shapero Rare Books

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy - $20,000

Blood Meridian
Signed by Cormac McCarthy on the front free endpaper

Cormac McCarthy is widely regarded as one of the greatest American novelists. He died on June 13, 2023.

This is a signed first edition of his fifth book, Blood Meridian, from 1985.

Sold by Raptis Rare Books

The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid by Oliver Byrne - $19,500

The First Six Books of The Elements of Euclid

Oliver Byrne's edition of the first six books of Euclid's Elements was published in 1847.

The innovative design uses color for educational purposes. It seems to prefigure the designs of much later modern artists like Piet Mondrian or the Bauhaus movement.

Copies of the original edition are extremely rare. A reprint edition by Taschen is available for readers with a more modest budget.

Sold by Sophia Rare Books

One of the most attractive editions of Euclid. The Elements is the oldest mathematical textbook still in common use today, and very few books have exercised a greater influence upon the human mind.
Christian Westergaard (Sophia Rare Books)
Christian Westergaard (Sophia Rare Books)

Liberté des libertés by Allain Jouffroy and Joan Miró - $18,001

Liberté des liberté by Joan Mirò

Paris, Le Soleil Noir, 1971. One of the 24 numbered copies with four lithographs in color, plus a suite of lithographs in black, and one etching in color.

All prints are signed and numbered in pencil by the famous artist Joan Miró (1893-1983).

Antonella Manganelli (Marninart) said, about this item: "I’m delighted and honored to have had this portfolio book in my hands for a brief time. For this portfolio,

Miro created an etching with a black background and red scratch marks, opening to a small dot of light with a blue swirl in the center.

Liberté des libertés.jpg
Deluxe copy with lithographs and one etching. Guarded in the original Publisher's canvas case with plexiglass window

With this striking contrast between darkness and light, Miro depicts the feeling between constraint and freedom.

As a dealer of rare, illustrated books, I am always fascinated by how the power of words has inspired artists throughout the centuries and the way they are able to blend shapes and colors to give life to their words."

Sold by Marninart Rare Art Books

I’m delighted and honored to have had this portfolio book in my hands for a brief time.
Antonella Manganelli (Marninart)
Antonella Manganelli (Marninart)

Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist by Albert Einstein and Paul Arthur Schilpp - $15,025

Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist
Bound in publisher's brown morocco-grain cloth over bevel-edged boards, stamped in gilt. In publisher's original slipcase, with light sunning and wear at edges.

This is a Limited issue (copy #362 of 760), signed by Albert Einstein (b. 1879, d. 1955), one of the most influential physicists of all time.

This first edition, published in 1949 contains the first printing of Einstein’s autobiographical notes.

Einstein created the theory of relativity and was also one of the founders of quantum theory.

Sold by Burnside Rare Books

An iconic physicist whose name is synonymous with genius, it's always a little awe-inspiring to handle such a special piece of history.
Rachel Phillips (Burnside Rare Books)
Rachel Philips (Burnside Rare Books)

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - $13,525

The Little Prince
Signed limited first edition (1943) signed by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The first edition of this popular book was published in English and French by US publisher Reynal & Hitchcock in 1943.

The Little Prince was translated into over 300 languages.

This copy lacks the dust jacket but is still highly desirable as it was signed by author-aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

He wrote the book largely on Long Island and in New York. He later returned to war and disappeared on a flight on July 1944.

Sold by Burnside Rare Books

The perfect illustrated tale--beautiful and timeless, loved the world over. I enjoyed it a kid and can still find meaning in it today.
Rachel Phillips (Burnside Rare Books)
Rachel Phillips (Burnside Rare Books)

Codex Manesse Facsimile - $13,069

Codex Manesse
Folio 249 verso of the Codex Manesse shows the portrait of Konrad von Altstetten with his falcon, embraced by his lover.

The Codex Manesse is the one of the most famous German manuscripts of the Middle Ages.

The book contains the works of over 130 medieval poets together with miniatures of their portraits.

The original manuscript dates from the early 14th century and is currently housed in the Heidelberg University library.

This is a copy of a lavish facsimile edition produced in Frankfurt for the publisher Insel-Verlag between 1925 and 1927.

Sold by Anton Pfeiler

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien - $11,528

The Hobbit
The endpaper map ("Thror's Map") was drawn by Tolkien and is referred to in the text of the novel.

Well preserved, early editions of The Hobbit are highly desired by collectors.

The first printing of the first edition was published in September 1937 with a print run of only 1,500 copies, and a copy was sold on AbeBooks for $65,000.

This third impression was published by Allen and Unwin in 1942.

Discover our guide to collecting J.R.R. Tolkien's books

Ulysses by James Joyce - $11,268

Ulysses by James Joyce is a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles. It is one of the most famous works of classical modernist literature.

The true first edition of 1,000 copies was published in 1922 by Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Sold by Atlas Rare Books

Le Gout du Bonheur by Pablo Picasso - $11,030

Le Gout du Bonheur
Etching by Pablo Picasso, signed in pencil.

Antonella Manganelli (Marninart) said, about this item: "Le Goût du Bonheur translates to The Taste of Happiness. It is a rare portfolio that reproduces an almost perfect replica of three of Picasso’s notebooks from April to September of 1964, with 71 drawings in pencil, India ink, charcoal, and colored pencil, in original size printed with the Dietz process.

This deluxe edition presents an etching signed by Picasso frontispiece depicting the smiling artist at work. The portfolio is indeed permeated with happiness. With a series of colorful and playful images, Picasso - then 83 years old - who proposed the title himself, shared the significance of a life lived fully. I am honored to be the dealer of such a wonderful portfolio that inspires happiness in the life of others."

Le Gout du Bonheur (1970)

Published by Les Éditions Cercle d'Art (Paris, 1970). Etching printed by Les ateliers Crommelynck. With preface by Jean Marcenac.

Pablo Picasso illustrated many books throughout his career. A catalog raisonné published in 1983 lists 156 works.

Sold by Marninart Rare Art Books


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