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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Sotheby’s Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History Sale

Sotheby’s London will offer in its forthcoming Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History sale, to be held in London on Thursday 7th May 2009, a magnificent pair of 17th century terrestrial and celestial globes by the eminent globe-maker Vicenzo Coronelli (lot 121, est. £150,000-200,000), inspired by those he created for Louis XIV. Sale highlights also include unique and highly personal first-hand accounts of voyages, discoveries and exploration – among which is the final journal of the commanding officer of Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle (lot 230, est. £45,000-55,000) – in addition to an historic album of photographs recording the first British Royal Visit to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in 1938 (lot 113, est. £50,000-70,000) and never-before-seen photographs of the Hajj to Makkah in 1908 by Dr Muhammad al Husayni (lot 90, est. £50,000-70,000). The sale comprises a total of 252 lots and is expected to raise in excess of £1.7 million.

Speaking about the sale, Richard Fattorini, Sotheby’s Specialist, Books Department, said: “In a sale with such exciting highlights as the spectacular pair of globes and the important and rare photographic albums, we are also very privileged to include a selection of first-hand travel accounts in their contemporary bindings – many of them exceptionally fine copies – the condition of which we have not been privileged to offer for sale in many years.”

The Pair of Terrestrial and Celestial Globes are an extremely fine example of Father Vicenzo Maria Coronelli’s eminent career as a globe-maker; the original gores are presented as they were intended to be seen and mounted on spectacular modern stands, both with four supporting African figures, in antique style by Greaves and Thomas. The terrestrial globe is decorated with cartouches, descriptive texts, ships, animals and detailed descriptions of the latest discoveries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, while the celestial globe is adorned with constellations and the zodiac, showing animals and mythological figures with stars picked out in gold. First created in a giant form for Louis XIV Cornelli conceived the idea of reducing these and producing printed globes for sale, they are estimated at £150,000-200,000.

Voyages and Exploration: the Pacific and Americas
Among the sale’s selection of first-hand travel accounts is the final journal kept by the commanding officer of one of the most famous ships in maritime history, Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle. Detailing the dramatic end of her first hydrographic surveying voyage to Patagonia (lot 230, est. £45,000-55,000), the manuscript journal, kept between 28th March and 24th July 1828, is a unique record of the history of the vessel. It provides hitherto unknown details about her first great voyage, and is an unusual adjunct to the development of evolutionary theory with which HBS Beagle is so famously associated. The terrible conditions of the voyage ultimately caused the deterioration of Captain Stokes’s mental state, culminating in his suicide.

Following the tragedy of Stokes’s death, it was thought advisable for the captain to have a companion on the second voyage. A personable young man from a good family, who had revealed a gift for natural science in Cambridge and was “amply qualified for collecting, observing & noting any thing worthy to be noted in Natural History” (J.S. Henslow on Darwin) was duly chosen. The consequences of this appointment were, of course, huge: it was from the observations that he made while accompanying Fitzroy on this voyage that Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution by means of natural selection.

Also featuring in the sale are six separate works relating to the famed explorer Captain James Cook (lots 231-236) including a rare anonymous printed account of his second voyage round the world in the years 1773-1775 written by one of his officers and estimated at £30,000-35,000 (lot 236). Captain Cook and Captain James King’s beautifully bound Voyage to the Pacific Ocean for making discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere (lot 232) is also to be offered in the sale – this second edition is considered typographically superior to the first edition and is estimated to fetch £15,000-20,000 – as well as a first edition copy of A voyage of discovery to the North Pacific Ocean by the celebrated British navigator William Robert Broughton (lot 229, est. £20,000-25,000) – a “scarce and exceedingly important work” (Hill), the book includes nine engraved plates and maps that document Broughton’s voyage across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands and on to Japan were he survived a shipwreck.

Album of photographs recording the first British Royal visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in 1938
One of the photographic highlights in the sale is an historic album that records the first British royal visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in 1938. The visit of HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, was meticulously documented by their nephew Lord Frederick Cambridge. The remarkable collection of photographs and original historic documents contained in the album (lot 113, est. £50,000-70,000) provide a rare insight into the country in the very early stages of its history – the trip having taken place just a year after HM King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud became the first king of the region – and the sale of the album provides the first-ever opportunity to present the images to the public. One of the rarest volumes in north-west Americana will also be offered for sale – John Meares’ accounts of his voyages made in 1788 and 1789 to the north-west coast of America and to China, including a correspondence between Meares and Captain George Dixon (lot 244). This first edition is estimated at £40,000-50,000.

A collection of 85 photographs of the Hajj to Makkah in 1908 by Dr Muhammad al Husayni
Dr Muhammad Al Husayni’s remarkable collection of 85 neverseen-before photographs of Makkah is also to be offered in the sale (lot 90). Estimated at £50,000-70,000 and taken in 1908 they represent a fascinating historic record of the Hajj as well as a unique artistic view of the landscape and traditions of the era. The exciting discovery of this collection of photographs was made recently in an archive, and though al Husayni was known to have been a photographer, none of his works had been seen before. These rare photographs present a narrative covering the whole journey of the pilgrim, while focusing on the holy places of Makkah and Al-Madinah, together with the ports and legation.