Comprising over four thousand volumes and over two million printed pages, the late James OD Fennings stock of antiquarian books will attract bibliophiles from around the globe to Molesworth Street in Dublin next week.
James ODonoghue Fenning, or Jim Fenning as he was known to book collectors and dealers, was the third and last of a generation of Dublin booksellers. His grandfather established the business at 3 Wood Quay in the 1890s the premises sadly demolished by Dublin City Council to make way for their new offices in the 1970s. Jim, who died in September, aged in his mid 70s, started work in the antiquarian book trade in 1958 in England, returning to Dublin in the 1970s to trade on his own account. He recently received his Fifty Years Membership Badge from the Antiquarian Booksellers Association.
Jim Fenning was renowned in the book trade for his knowledge and the consistently high standard of condition of his stock never offer anything you have to apologise for he used say.
Unlike most of the Irish book dealers Jim did not particularly stock Irish works, considering that pond somewhat over-fished. However there are some useful Irish works in this stock, including a good range by Jonathan Swift such as A proposal for giving badges to the beggars in all the parishes in Dublin, 1737, [lot 1327, 6,000-7,000] or PUFF-INDORST, the benefits of farting explaind, 1722 [lot 1332A, 600-800). Oliver Goldsmiths An history of the lives, actions, travels, sufferings and deaths of the most eminent martyrs
, 1764 is valued at 6,000 to 8,000 [lot 851].
A first edition of Charles Dickens Oliver Twist, 1838, is estimated at 4,000 to 6,000 [lot 737] and a rare set of the first illustrated one volume works of Jane Austen, 1833, are expected to make 1,500 to 1,800. A rare Dublin printing of a German Gothic novel by Karl Friedrich Kahlert, The Necromancer, a German story: or Tale of the Black Forest: founded on facts, 1795 a forerunner of the popular Gothic stories of the 21st century is estimated at 5,000 to 7,000 [lot 986]
There are early printed works from the 1590s and good ranges of 17th and 18th century political, theological and literary interest, as well as many scarce and interesting travel books of the 19th century. The catalogue is full of Jim Fennings pithy comments such as this for lot 149: Even in her lifetime Amanda McKittrick Ros (born Anna Margaret McKittrick) was known as the Worlds Worst Novelist, and on a short reading of this book one would be pushed to disagree, or this from Lot 296: Appleton had a remarkable ability to found societies, but his reputation for faulty book-keeping proved a handicap. There are plenty more to entertain in this remarkable catalogue of over 3,500 volumes.
Viewing is at Whytes
galleries from Wednesday 17th to Friday 19th October, 10am to 6pm daily. The first session of the auction, lots 1 to 504, mainly valued at 100 or less, starts at 6pm on Friday October 19th and is restricted to absentee and internet bidding only. The remainder of the auction is on Saturday 20th October commencing at 11am at The Freemasons Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.