Bloomsbury Natural History Auction

NEW YORK – On November 11, 2008 Bloomsbury New York will host an extraordinary Natural History sale, featuring material from The Trust of Lynn Abbott and other private collections. The sale is the first special themed sale in New York dedicated solely to Natural History in over a decade. A cornucopia for the collector, this delightful sale offers a bountiful selection of Botanical, Ornithological and Zoological works from the 16th to the 20th century, with the majority coming from the 18th and 19th century: the golden age of Natural History books. Exotic and domestic birds, beast, flowers and fruit are all well represented, as is the work of many of the great names: Seba, Gould, Lear and Audubon, to name but a few.

The highlight of the sale, a rare first edition of Albertus Seba’s Thesaurus is one of the greatest of all 18th-century illustrated natural history books. The edition presented here is an exceptional, uncut copy with spectacular contemporary hand-coloring in the style of the J. Fortuyn of the Hague ($300,000-400,000). Other highlights include Lear’s life-like parrots as he sketched them at the then newly opened Regent’s Park Zoological Gardens in 1828 ($70,000-100,000). An unquestionable prize among American bird books, the first octavo edition of Audubon’s The Birds of America is offered here as a rare example of the work that secured his place as America’s best known ornithologist ($55,000-65,000). Less well-known to American collectors but avidly sought after in Europe, Daniel Giraud Elliot’s A Monograph of the Felidae of family of the cats published in New York is a magnificent and ambitious work in which Elliot described and pictured all the species of cats then known ($40,000-60,000).

Illustrated botanical books are also well-represented in this sale by some of the greatest names in the field: Curtis, Sowerby and Loudon. A centerpiece of the botanical section is a fine first edition of William Curtis’ Flora Londiniensis ($15,000-20,000). There is also a large selection of the beautifully-illustrated populist flower magazines that were published in response to the enthusiasm generated by the influx of a rainbow variety of new species during the 19th century in Europe. The sale includes complete runs of the periodicals issued by Benjamin Maund, Thomas Moore and John Lindley, as well as very rare large-paper issues of individual volumes from William Curtis’s other great work: The Botanical Magazine.

This sale is a beautiful appreciation of the natural world as depicted by the most extraordinary 18th and 19th century artists and amateur scientists of the craft.

Viewings of Natural History, Featuring the Lynn Abbott Collection on November 11th will be held on Friday 7 November – Saturday 8 November from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, Monday 10 November from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and Tuesday 11 November from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. The auction will begin promptly at 2:00pm on Tuesday 11 November.

Bloomsbury Auctions is the world’s leading auction house for rare books and works on paper and is headquartered in London with salerooms in New York and Rome.

Auction info