Mercator and Hondius atlas highlights Bonhams Fine Books & Manuscripts auction

17 Feb 2013, Fine Books & Manuscripts
Fine Books & Manuscripts

Mercator and Hondius atlas highlights Bonhams Fine Books & Manuscripts auction

17 Feb 2013, Fine Books & Manuscripts

San Francisco—The winter Fine Books & Manuscripts auction, February 17 at Bonhams in San Francisco brought a successful $716,038. It was led by the French edition of Gerard Mercator and Jodocus Hondius' Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de frabrica mundi et fabricati figura, 1619, which brought $27,500, ahead of a $12,000-18,000 estimate.

A rare example of a Charles Schulz annual Peanuts football strip also sold very well, at the highest end of its estimate, bringing $25,000. The 8-panel Sunday strip, from October 16, 1983, features Charlie Brown overcoming the compulsion to try and kick a football Lucy holds for him, only to encounter several other members of the gang tempting him with footballs of their own.

An example of a late 15th/early 16th century Book of Hours, from a California institution, brought $21,250, far surpassing its estimate of $7,000-9,000. Various additional lots soared past their estimates, including a first edition example of John Milton's Paradise Lost. A Poem in Ten Books, 1669, which achieved $16,250 (est. $6,000-9,000); seven illustrations on board of anthropomorphic cats by Edmund Caldwell, created for the Marcus Ward & Co. publication Three Little Kittens, which realized $12,500 (est. $500-700); and a two volume Atlas universel dressé sur les meilleures cartes modernes, 1784, by Robert De Vaugondy, Pietro Santini, and others, which took in $11,875 (est. $4,000-6,000).

Dr. Catherine Williamson, Department Director, Fine Books & Manuscripts, Bonhams, said she felt the sale was a good indication of how strong the market will be in 2013. She commented, "Both private buyers and members of the trade are starting the year buying in earnest."

Notable in the auction was an autograph letter from Thomas Jefferson, sold for $13,750 (est. $10,000-15,000), and an example of David Roberts' The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia, 1855-56, sold for $15,000 (est. $8,000-12,000).

A collection of fine press by Ashendene, Doves, Essex House, Grabhorn and Kelmscott Presses also sold well, including such star lots as The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs by William Morris, Kelmscott Press, sold for $9,375 (est. $5,000-7,000) and Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory, Ashendene Press, sold for $7,250 (est. $4,000-6,000).

Rounding out the sale's highlights was a triple-issue art journal Derrière le miroir: Paris, by Marc Chagall, featuring his Paris-themed works exhibited at Maeght in 1954, which brought $11,875; and an archive of 83 fashion designs from the House of Dior, with notes and fabric swatches by Marc Bohan, prepared for an American debutante after she moved from California to New York in 1966, which achieved $11,875 (est. $4,000-6,000).


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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