Christie’s New York To Offer Six Centuries Of Revolutionary Science

. May 28, 2008

Important Scientific Books: The Richard Green Library June 17

New York – On June 17, Christie’s New York will offer a remarkable single-owner collection: Important Scientific Books: The Richard Green Library. This unique ensemble features over 300 lots from six revolutionary centuries of scientific, mathematical and philosophical thought. The sale offers outstanding works by Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Johnannes Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton, and many more including a number of works never seen on the market before. The collection is expected to realize in excess of $6 million.

A physician and amateur astronomer, Dr. Green began collecting in the early 1970s. His interest in scientific works broadened as he collected important works in the history of astronomy and science, and an early purchase of Galileo’s Dialogo (estimate: $40,000-60,000) established his serious commitment to the pursuit of a library. Progressively, he began to add important works in the history of ideas, and sought significant books from many scientific disciplines.

The top lot of the sale is arguably the finest copy in private hands of Nicolaus Copernicus’s De revolutionibus, (estimate: $900,000-1,200,000). In 1975, Dr. Green purchased the first edition of the most important scientific publication of the 16th Century. The Green copy of Copernicus’s magnum opus is one of the widest-margined copies located and is preserved in a contemporary binding unwashed and unpressed.

Astronomical highlights joined the collection, with lavish star atlases graphically complementing the scientific texts. Andreas Cellarius’s atlas of 1660 (estimate: $80,000-120,000), the only celestial atlas published during the golden age of Dutch cartography, is considered by many to be the finest of its kind ever published. Equally beautiful, and considerably scarcer, is John Bevis’s Uranographia Britannica of circa 1750 (estimate: $60,000-80,000).

No library of modern science would be complete without of one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century: Albert Einstein. An impressive collection of 130 offprints from Einstein (estimate: $150,000-250,000) comprises Einstein’s own set of reference copies, several with autograph additions and corrections, Einstein’s first and last papers, two Nobel Prize papers, key papers in the field of quantum theory, the theories of special and general relativity, and the unified theory.

The sale also features the only known first edition of the first telephone book (estimate: $30,000-40,000). The 20-page book containing the names and numbers of 391 subscribers around New Haven, Connecticut, was issued in November 1878- just two years after the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. The directory contains some useful advice for inexperienced callers such as, “Should you wish to speak to another subscriber you should commence the conversation by saying ‘Hulloa!’.

Other featured lots are a first edition of Charles Darwin’s most influential work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (estimate: $80,000-120,000); a first edition of Sigmund Freud’s Die Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams) (estimate: $6,000-8,000); the first part of Benjamin Franklin’s most important scientific publication, Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America (estimate: $30,000-40,000); a first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (estimate: $120,000-180,000); and one of the most influential books of the modern era, Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (estimate: $30,000-40,000).

Viewing: Christie’s Rockefeller Galleries June 13-16

Category: Auction News

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