NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle's successful auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on November 7, 2023 topped $1 million amid competitive international bidding. Offerings in this popular sale spanned early illuminated manuscripts to modern literary first editions.
The Esmond Bradley Martin Collection of Africana and Travel comprised fascinating material that attracted bidders from around the world. Highlighting the collection was a copy of the first Latin edition of the earliest published collection of voyages, including those of Columbus and Vespucci: the 1508 Milan Fracanzo da Montalboddo, which achieved a strong $239,400. The collection also featured a rare uncut copy of Livio Sanuto's 1588 atlas of Africa that doubled its estimate at $25,200, as well as a group of 19th and early 20th century material relating to Zanzibar that attracted intense competition, sending the lots soaring over expectations. (Read more about Esmond Bradley Martin below.)
Property of other owners was highlighted by a first edition of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking scientific work, On the Origin of Species, 1859, which realized $94,500. This copy bore provenance of Charles Darwin's great-grandson Quentin Keynes, to the naturalist Richard Bayard Dominick, thence by descent to the consignor.
Robert Browning's first edition copy of John Keats’ poem, Endymion, 1818, sold for $37,800, many times its $7,000-10,000 estimate. The poem begins with the well-known verse, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever."
The selection of livres des artistes featured François-Louis Schmied's Daphne in a major Art Deco binding by Pierre Legrain, 1924, one of 140 copies. The book tripled its $8,000-12,000 estimate, selling for $32,760.
Manuscripts in the sale were highlighted by a medieval manuscript on paper, Calculus temporum Ecclesiasticus, which sailed past its estimate of $3,000-5,000 to achieve an exceptional $31,500. This fascinating calendrical manuscript in Latin, circa 1360, possibly English in origin, was once the property of antiquary and collector Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872).
100 years before the Revolution: from Plymouth Colony to the Salem Witch Trials - The Victor Gulotta Collection, offered a curated collection of 17th and 18th century manuscripts documenting life in colonial New England. Among the rarities were a 1691 document signed by two notorious Salem witch trials magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin that realized $5,670, a document from 1686/87 signed by Edmund Andros as Governor of the Dominion of New England that sold for $5,670, and a 1656 Boston court document relating to a divorce case that achieved $6,300, all three exceeding their estimates.
Esmond Bradley Martin (1941-2018) was educated as a geographer and philosopher. He and his wife Chryssee had an enduring fascination with Africa, and settled in Nairobi, Kenya, in the mid-1970s. He wrote extensively, oftentimes in conjunction with his wife, publishing works including Zanzibar. Tradition and Revolution, Hamish Hamilton, 1978; Cargoes of the east. The ports, trade, and culture of the Arabian Seas and western Indian Ocean, Elm Tree Press, 1978; and many other works on African history and conservation. In the late 1970s, he began extensive research into the illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, which included substantial stints incognito posing as a buyer of illicit wildlife products. For a while, he served as special envoy for rhino conservation for the United Nations. He continued this work until 2018 , when tragically he was stabbed to death in his Nairobi home
For about thirty years, beginning in the mid-1960s, Esmond Bradley Martin assiduously collected books and manuscripts on Africa and its history, acquiring a phenomenal collection of letters by many of the major English explorers of the nineteenth century, as well as numerous rarities from earlier centuries. He was buying at a time when troves of such material surfaced frequently at English auctions. Doyle was privileged to offer the first selection of his collection in the November 7 auction. A second and final portion will be offered early next year.
Consignments are currently being accepted for future auctions. We invite you to contact us for a complimentary auction evaluation. Our Specialists are always available to discuss the sale of a single item or an entire collection.