'Magnificent ... the yardstick for bird books for years to come' (The Book Collector)
The remarkable Ladwell library was assembled by two dedicated ornithologists and bibliophiles from southern England, who started collecting in the 1970s and finished in 2018 with their acquisition of volume 137 in the New Naturalist series.
What began as an agreeable diversion on bird-watching holidays soon developed into a serious interest; a significant collection began to take shape, covering the avifauna of every continent and ranging from major works of 19th-century natural history to indispensable modern reference books, with an emphasis on copies in exceptional condition and fine bindings, often enhanced by an illustrious provenance.
The first instalment of 75 lots was sold in these rooms on 6 March 2019, with highlights including fine copies of H. E. Dresser’s Birds of Europe (£7,000) and his monographs on the Meropidae (£8,000) and Coraciidae (£3,600), Henry Seebohm’s account of the family Turdidae (£7,500), and Henry, Duke of Gloucester’s copy of White’s Selborne in red morocco gilt by Ramage (£2,200).
The second instalment, to be sold on 19 June, will contain further illustrated monographs including G. E. Shelley’s account of the Nectariniidae (estimate £2,000-3000), Sclater’s work on the jacamars and puff-birds (£1,000-1,500), and the extra-limited issue of H. Kirke Swann’s Synopsis of the Accipitres, one of 12 copies only (£2,000-3,000), together with a variety of important ornithological treatises not in English dating back to the 18th century, fine copies of Victorian county faunas, and more. A third instalment will be sold on 2 October 2019.
For further information please contact Dominic Somerville-Brown
+44 (0)1285 860006
Always a strong sale, this summer we are offering a number of highly desirable literary first editions, one of the highlights being a signed set of Lord of the Rings, with an interesting provenance. The set belonged to David Smith, bibliophile and well-known authority on bees, who co-authored the standard bibliography British Bee Books. Each volume bears his bookplate as well as the signature of Tolkien, and accompanying documentation, including an autograph postcard signed from Tolkien, explains how David Smith and his friend Anthony Wood visited the author in his rooms at Merton College, Oxford, where they discussed the trilogy and each had their set signed. David Smith’s set, consisting of early impressions (5th, 5th and 3rd respectively), is in fine cloth with lightly handled dust jackets, and is being offered with an estimate of £7,000-10,000.
Other notable examples of modern literature in the sale include: a first edition in dust jacket of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, 1938, as well as her scarce second novel I’ll Never Be Young Again, published in 1932, also in the dust jacket; first editions of Uncommon Danger, by Eric Ambler and Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley, both published in 1937, and each in the dust jacket; the signed and limited edition of Ash Wednesday by T.S. Eliot, published in 1930; and three signed and limited Virginia Woolf items, namely Kew Gardens (1927, signed also by Vanessa Bell), Beau Brummell (1930) and On Being Ill (Hogarth Press, 1930).
The sale also features a selection of autograph material, including 24 Enid Blyton letters, written in the 1930s and 1940s, three autograph letters by George Orwell, and a letter from Charles Lamb.
As usual there is an offering of early children’s books, including the rare first bookform edition of Le Avventure di Pinnochio by Carlo Collodi (pseudonym of Carlo Lorenzini), published in Florence in 1883. Our copy is in the publisher’s original red cloth binding, and has an interesting provenance, being originally owned by Leone Fenzi, the brother of Ida Copeland (née Fenzi, 1881-1964) who became a Conservative MP and won the Stoke seat against Oswald Mosley in 1931. The volume has been passed by descent to the current owner, and is estimated at £6,000-8,000.
Finally, amongst other artwork, we are pleased to be able to offer a number of original pieces by prolific illustrator Andrew Skilleter (born 1948), known particularly for his Narnia and Doctor Who illustrations. The nine works, which are being sold direct from the artist’s studio, comprise four audio cassette covers for BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, dramatised by Brian Sibley, and five covers for the classic series The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, published by The Bodley Head in 1992. Paintings by Andrew Skilleter have been exhibited in London and across the UK, including at The Association of Illustrators, and numerous pieces of his work are to be found in private collections in the UK as well as globally.
Dominic Winter Auctioneers are delighted to present the major private collection of fine books, prints and paintings belonging to Martin Orskey (1926-2019). consisting of almost 400 lots of rare books, and over 50 English paintings and rare prints. Martin, ubiquitous across the book trade for well over half a century, had an exceptional ability to sniff out the most interesting and rare of items, and it is hard not to feel that with his passing comes the end of an era.
The sale consists of an eclectic mix of science and medicine, travel and topography, natural history, gastronomy, early education, printing and other trades, but each item was invariably chosen by Martin for his own personal collection for some reason of rarity, condition or particular interest. Notable items are The Husbandman’s Fruitfull Orchard (1609), a rare early trade catalogue of metalwork (circa 1800), Campbell’s North America (1793), a finely bound set of Grose’s Antiquities, Manby’s Journal of a Voyage to Greenland (1822), a Catalogue of Sheffield Plate (circa 1800), Wilkes’s Moths (1773), Edwards’ Natural History of Uncommon Birds, a number of early children’s books, a rare gingerbread mould in the shape of a hornbook, and an illuminated Book of Hours. Martin had a sense of fun and an eye for the quirky, so it is not surprising to find such titles as Benefit of Farting (1722) and The Whore’s Rhetorik (1683) nestling amongst the more scholarly rarities.
The paintings and prints, all of which were displayed to advantage in the Orskey household, demonstrate a few strong themes, namely naïve art, domestic architecture, dogs and natural history. Not surprisingly there are also several pieces on the theme of books and the trade. A large Naïve School oil painting of seven dogs is particularly impressive, and another in similar style, depicting a girl with a spaniel, is also bound to be particularly sought after. A number of small paintings of country houses, some of the Regency period, are of more modest value, but are nonetheless charming in style and detail.
Martin was a familiar face at Dominic Winter and was one of our first 100 clients. He expressed a wish many years ago that he wanted his library to be dispersed here, for others to experience the thrill of buying and the enjoyment of owning, as he had.
For further information please contact John Trevers, Susanna Winters, or Dominic Somerville-Brown
+44 (0)1285 860006
19th & 20th Century Photographs, featuring India, China & the Far East
The October sale features a number of electrifying mid-Victorian photograph albums and photo books of China and Hong Kong. Most importantly are several books and albums with photographs by the great Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921).
Thomson was one of the first to extensively document the Far East, photographing out there between 1862 and 1872, before returning to the UK and producing, in association with Adolphe Smith, the seminal and pioneering documentary photography book, Street Life in London (1876-77). Thomson published many of his images of China, Thailand and Cambodia in a series of books, often using actual photographs in the publications, making them costly small printings, and now all consequently rare. Most well-known is his four-volume work Illustrations of China and Its People. A Series of Two Hundred Photographs, published in 4 volumes (1873-74). The wide body of images in that work are reproduced as photogravures and so these fine images and the books are generally found in good condition.
More difficult to find in fine condition are the books published with mounted original photographs, of which the earliest, The Antiquities of Cambodia (1867), with 16 albumen prints, is the most familiar. Of Thomson's China books with real photographs, Foochow and the River Min (1873) with 80 carbon prints is the best known, even though only published in limited edition of 46 copies; the last complete copy at auction fetched £350,000 at Sotheby's, London, in 2012. But even rarer than that is Thomson's first China photography book, Views on the North River (1870), with 14 mounted albumen prints. On this expedition into the Guangdong province the weather was poor and Thomson was disappointed with his photographs. There are only four copies of this book known: at Hong Kong University, the National Library of Scotland, Cornell University, and one privately owned in North America. No copies have ever been offered for sale by auction, nor by catalogue, that we have found.
It is a great privilege therefore to announce for sale a newly discovered fifth copy, held for 150 years in a private British family's possession, alongside four further related photograph albums of the 1860s/70s: views of Hong Kong by John Thomson, circa 1868; view of Hong Kong by William Floyd Pryor, circa 1870; and two albums of views of Hong Kong, China, India and Burma. The sale will also comprise further 19th-century Asian and other travel photography, both as individual prints and albums from various sources.
On view below are a selection of images from the album of Hong Kong views by John Thomson.
To consign and for further information please contact Chris Albury
+44 (0)1285 860006