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Event Date14 December 10:30 AM GMT | Live auction 21034

Valuable Books and Manuscripts

Valuable Books and Manuscripts

Sale Overview

Christie’s Valuable Books and Manuscripts auction on 14 December comprises over 200 lots, spanning printed books, maps, medieval manuscripts and autograph letters.

The sale boasts cartographic gems from the 16th-century – a beautiful copy of Gerard Mercator’s 1595 Atlas with contemporary hand-colouring sits alongside a 1577 Portolan Chart of the Mediterranean – with further highlights of Travel and Exploration including a flag carried to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen and a splendid hand-coloured copy of David Roberts’ monumental work on Palestine and the Near East, The Holy Land (1849).

Important early European printing such as Ulrich von Richenthal’s Concilium zu Konstanz (1483), the first printed armorial, gives way to highly decorative 18th- and 19th-century editions including Christoph Jakob Trew's Hortus nitidissimis, one of the finest and most sumptuous botanical works of the 18th century, and Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s famous Les Roses. Ground-breaking works of science range from a first-edition of Newton’s Principia (1687) to rare offprints from Tesla and Claude Shannon, who published ‘the first technical paper on computer chess’ in 1950. An appealing collection of James Bond first editions opens with Ian Fleming’s most sought-after book, Casino Royale (1953). 

Elsewhere, medieval and Renaissance manuscript highlights include an iconic 11th-century Byzantine miniature, sumptuous Books of Hours, and a collection of miniatures and leaves from an important European private collection. At the centre of the autographs section is a Mozart music manuscript leaf and a collection of composers’ letters, with further autograph material from Isaac Newton, Henry VIII, Darwin, Churchill, Freud, Jung and others.

Explore more of Classic Week London >

Auction times
14 Dec 10:30 AM (GMT) Lots 1-235

Our specialist’s selection

Brought to you by

Sophie Hopkins

Sophie Hopkins

Specialist, Manuscripts & Archives | Books & Manuscripts

Sophie joined the Book Department as a specialist in 2013, covering medieval and renaissance manuscripts, autograph letters and manuscripts, and archives. She is also Head of Private Sales for the International Books and Manuscripts department.
Eugenio Donadoni

Eugenio Donadoni

Senior Specialist, Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts | Books & Manuscripts

Eugenio Donadoni joined Christie’s in 2010, where he leads the manuscripts team with responsibility for the appraisal, researching, cataloguing and marketing of medieval and renaissance and earlier western manuscripts worldwide. Born in Florence and raised in Naples, he underwent a radical process of Anglicisation and ended up reading for an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree, and a doctorate at Oxford University. His loyalties are still divided, especially come the World Cup.

Highlights include the sale of the Rothschild Prayerbook ($13.6m, the world record at auction for an illuminated manuscript, January 2014); the Carolingian ‘Gospels of Queen Theutberga’ (£1.99m, July 2015); the only copy of the Ripley Scroll in private hands (£584,750, December 2017); the Audley End Lydgate (£392,750, July 2018); and the oldest known manuscript of Ezechiel in Latin (£212,500, July 2019). Notable collection sales have included the Arcana Collection of Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts, the stunning group of manuscripts from the collection of Yates, Thompson and Bright: a Family of Bibliophiles (16 July 2014), the collection of Maurice Burrus (25 May 2016), and, most recently, The History of Western Script: Important Antiquities and Manuscripts from the Schøyen Collection (10 July 2019). While cataloguing the Yates, Thompson and Bright sale, Eugenio identified a previously unknown text by the Renaissance French author Catherine d’Amboise: this important discovery formed the subject of his 2016 article in French Studies Bulletin. In November 2015, Eugenio dragged medieval manuscripts out of the Dark Ages and into the Digital Age by piloting the department’s first, and very successful, Online Only sale – Script and Illumination: Leaves from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts.

Over the past ten years Eugenio has negotiated a number of multi-million pound private sales of medieval and renaissance manuscripts to clients in Europe, the UK and the Americas: most significantly the Clumber Park Chartier (now in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library) and the Breviary of Saint-Louis de Poissy (now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France).

Eugenio is one of Christie’s international auctioneers, and takes all of the London department’s auctions. He plays in a much-loved – if terrible – rock band, will offer unsolicited advice on anything food-related and is trilingual in English, Italian and French. He also reads Latin and Ancient Greek.
Julian Wilson

Julian Wilson

Senior Specialist, Books, Maps & Manuscripts | Books & Manuscripts

Julian has over 20 years of experience in the antiquarian book world, and has worked for over a decade in Christie's Books & Manuscripts department.

Julian’s first job as a Christie’s Specialist was to catalogue the Foljambe Collection of natural history. This included selling a complete subscriber’s set of John Gould’s magnificent ornithological books for £1,252,500 (April 2008). He has gone on to handle many other fine natural history, science and travel books, including maps and atlases. Some of Julian’s favourite objects that he has brought to market include: a pair of John Russell’s extremely rare prints of the moon (£125,000, December 2016); two copies of Mendel’s offprint on genetics and the laws of inheritance, Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden (£242,500, July 2016 and £287,250, July 2019); an extremely rare example of the famous Chinese ‘Blue Map’, Complete Geographical Map of the Great Qing Dynasty (£137,500 December 2018); and Marx’s presentation copy of Das Kapital to his cousin (£344,750, December 2019).

He has also enjoyed being involved with non-book lots, and pioneered new markets for objects such as Apple-1 computers (£133,250, November 2010) and Enigma machines (£67,250, same sale), setting new world records at that time.

Over the past five years, Julian has grown and developed extremely successful sales of photographs, maps, posters and other ephemera relating to major 20th-century geo-political events. This ties into his life-long interest with TE Lawrence.

Julian also has a fascination with paleontology, geology and the earth sciences, and has helped catalogue a major private collection on the subject.

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