Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Auction Report: Christie's

Some more highlights from yesterday's sale of the Richard Green Library, which completely blew out presale estimates and made more than $11 million for 290 lots. As I mentioned last night, the Copernicus was the highest of the high spots, but other things also sold very well: twenty-two lots made more than $100,000 each. Prices below include premiums.

- Galileo sold well: a very lovely and extremely rare copy of his first printed work, Le operazioni del compasso geometrico, et militare (1606) sold for $506,500; his second printed work, Difesa di Galileo Galilei ... contro alle calunnie & imposture di Baldessar Capra (1607) fetched $230,500; and a first edition of Sidereus nuncius magna (1610) made $290,500.

- A surprisingly scarce 1791 first edition of Alexander Hamilton's Report on Manufactures (one of three copies known listed in ABPC since 1975, and the only one in its original wrappers), which belonged to then-Senator Samuel Johnston of NC, sold for $206,500.

- Newton's Principia and Darwin's Origin of Species each made $194,500.

- A collection of 130 Einstein offprints (Einstein's own collection, in fact) went for $314,500.

- Also among the lots was an Enigma machine from WWII, which sold for $104,500.

- The only known copy of the first telephone directory (New Haven, CT, 1878) better than quadrupled its high estimate, selling for $170,500.

- A second edition of Copernicus (1566) made $98,500.

This catalogue really is a what's what of the top scientific books ever printed, so I do encourage a good browse of it. Not just remarkable books, but remarkable copies of them.