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Waverly's Sept. 13 auction features 15th to 18th-century books and manuscripts
Etching with drypoint by the Dutch Master Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), titled Three Oriental Figures (1641), New Hollstein’s second (and final) state, 13 inches by 12 inches framed. Est. $3,000-$5,000.


FALLS CHURCH, VA.- A large and significant group of early printed books and other material spanning the 1400s through 1700s is set to headline Waverly’s Thursday, Sept. 13 Rare Books & Prints Auction featuring Natural World Fine Prints: Part II. In addition to traditional gallery bidding, absentee, phone and live online bidding will be available to those who cannot attend in person. Start time is 6 p.m. Eastern.

Star items in the 381-lot auction include rare and important books by Durandus, Bartholomaeus Anglicus and George Simon Winter, plus prints by Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacob van Ruisdael, Lucas van Leyden and others. Many of the books came to Waverly from the personal library of distinguished theologian Dr. Thomas C. Oden, with two other books having noteworthy provenance from the libraries of English poet Robert Southey and Scottish biographer/author James Boswell. Additional categories in the sale include Black Americana, autographs, fine bindings and illustrated works.

The book portion will be followed by Part II of a previously introduced series titled “Natural World Fine Prints.” Those items, totaling 170 lots, richly capture the beauty of exotic birds, botanicals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and many other types of animals. Among the prints are examples by Basilius Besler, John Gould, Innocente Alessandri, Comte de Buffon, Elizabeth Blackwell, Emanual Sweerts and Johann Christoph Volckhamer – all known and respected names in the world of antiquarian prints.

In the Black Americana section, Lot 19 is a highlight. It is composed of the books Up from Slavery, an Autobiography of Booker T. Washington (1st book edition, 1901), signed by Washington; and My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass (1st edition, 1855) with ownership inscription (est. $1,000-$1,500). Lot 20, a commencement address Frederick Douglass delivered at Western Reserve College in July 1854, is titled The Claims of the Negro… and is estimated at $2,000-$3,000.

An archive of printed material and manuscript papers belonging to Charles E. Francis, author of The Tuskegee Airmen – The Story of the Negro in the U.S. Air Force, first published in 1955, has an estimate of $2,000-$3,000. The lot is not the actual book, but rather a trove of handwritten and typed pages about the book and the airmen. Also, a signed copy of Portrait of Dylan Thomas (1949) by Thomas’ old friend Mervyn Levy (Welsh, 1915-1996) is expected to make $600-$900.

Fifteenth-century books include a 1492 copy of Proprietatibus Rerum, an early encyclopedia and one of the most popular folios of its time, by Bartholomaeus Anglicus (circa 1203-1272) and published in Nuremberg, Germany. It is estimated at $1,000-$2,000. A 1486 copy of Rationale Divinorum, an essential authority for the history of Western liturgy by the judge, diplomat, bishop, and governor in the church state Guillaume Durandus (1230-1296), is entered with a $3,500-$5,500 estimate.

A 1498 German edition woodcut by Albrecht Durer (German, 1471-1528) titled The Opening of the Fifth and Sixth Seals, from The Apocalypse, with the sheet measuring 15½ inches by 11¼ inches, is expected to change hands for $2,000-$4,000. Also, an etching with drypoint by the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) titled Three Oriental Figures (1641), from New Hollstein’s second (and final) state, 13 inches by 12 inches framed, should bring $3,000-$5,000.

A chromolithograph plate of a bird titled Crested Grebe was drawn from nature by John James Audubon (American, 1785-1851) and produced in 1860 by Julius Bien (Plate 389 No. 6-4). It measures 31 inches by 42 inches framed, and its estimate range is $1,500-$2,000. A hand-colored plate titled Lantern Fly & Pomegranate Flower (1726) by Maria Sibylla Merian (German, 1647-1717), on an 18½-inch by 13-inch sheet and in very good condition, should reach $800-$1,200.

One volume of Scottish biographer/author James Boswell’s copy of Chrysal: Or The Adventures of a Guinea, boldly inscribed on the first free endpaper by Boswell and dated 1765, carries a pre-sale estimate of $1,000-$2,000. Also, a notable 18th-century compilation of Welsh civil and ecclesiastical law (1730), with a title in Latin, was published in London and has a title page with ownership inscription of the English poet Robert Southey. Its auction estimate is $800-$1,000.

A first-edition copy of The Grandeur of the Gorges (1926), a compilation of 50 photographic studies of China’s great waterway, the Yangtze Kiang, tipped in, with descriptive notes and including 12 hand-colored prints, is expected to knock down $1,500-$2,500. Compiled by Donald Mennie and published in China, the volume retains its original embroidered silk binding.

Auction previews are presently under way at Waverly Rare Books’ gallery in northern Virginia, and will continue through auction day. Consult the company’s website for hours.





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