"Stand out of my way!!! I've got specimens for the Captain!!!"
The watercolour carries the tongue-in-cheek title "Quarter Deck of a Man of War on Diskivery of interesting Scenes on an Interesting Voyage" and is a light-hearted illustration probably created for the entertainment of the crew. It shows Darwin together with ten other crew members of HMS Beagle, including Robert FitzRoy, with fossils, botanical and mineralogical specimens. Each figure has their own speech bubble with words written in black ink: "Stand out of MY way!!! I've got specimens for the Captain!!!", says a sailor delivering specimens to FitzRoy.
Many details found in the watercolour echo known features of the Beagle voyage, and in turn the watercolour is an important new witness to one of the most renowned scientific voyages in history.
Lost? poem is found
Shelley was just 18 and in his first year at Oxford University when he wrote his Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things. The 172-line poem, accompanied by an essay and Shelley’s notes, was written in support of the Irish journalist Peter Finnerty, who had been jailed for libelling the Anglo-Irish politician Viscount Castlereagh.
Printed in 1811 by a stationers on Oxford High Street, under the alias of “a gentleman of the University of Oxford”, it was only attributed to Shelley 50 years after his death, when copies were already said to be impossible to find. The work was considered lost until it was rediscovered in a private collection in 2006, and has only been viewed by a handful of scholars since.
Now the 20-page printed pamphlet – the only known copy of the text in existence – has been acquired by the Bodleian Library for an undisclosed sum. The library has digitised the text to make it available to the general public for the first time.
Western Manuscripts Return to Ely House
A section on medieval line drawing features nine lots illustrating the history of this art-form, at the head of which is an eleventh-century full-page drawing of Christ supported by angels, which is probably Norman and from the decades immediately following the Norman Conquest of England [Lot 47, est. £25,000-35,000, pictured left.]
A fragment of a medieval 13th or 14th century Sephardic Torah Scroll is a breathtakingly rare survival from an important Jewish community of the European Middle Ages, and from a crucial time for the history of the Hebrew Bible. Despite being a fragment of Genesis only, this scroll stands among the earliest witnesses to the original form of the Old Testament [Lot 105, estimate £30,000-50,000, pictured right].
The rare and fascinating subject of demonology is represented by a leaf from a collection of sermon notes dealing with demon-lore, listing demon names alongside discussions of aspects of demonic infestation and exorcism [Lot 19, £3,000-5,000.]
A scribe's practise sheet is an exceptionally rare testament to the production of fine books in the Middle Ages. The writing master wrote two lines and these were repeatedly copied by the pupil. In an effort to save space, both have left no spaces between the words and this and the formal script renders the page nearly unreadable. We challenge any potential buyer or viewer to decipher it [Lot 37, estimate £300-500].
Two fine twelfth-century animal initials from an impressive illuminated Bible, contain a griffon and a bear and two small dogs. The twelfth century saw the golden age of the development of the early gothic book, with the production of vast illuminated Biblical codices with numerous initials and miniatures, which form much of our impression of quintessentially medieval books. Any witness to this evolution in the book arts, such as these, is of significant rarity now [Lot 56, estimate £8,000-12,000 and Lot 57, estimate £7,000-9,000].
A previously unrecorded miniature by the early 14th-century Parisian manuscript-producing man and wife team, Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, shows the grisly subject of the stabbing of a young man to death [Lot 61, estimate £6,000-8,000].
A copy of Bernard of Botone’s legal commentary, most probably from a monastic or cathedral library, is a rare survival of medieval bindings with a horn nameplate. [Lot 115, estimate £30,000-50,000]
The Astronomical Compendium of San Christoforo, Turin, contains the important earliest Italian manuscript witness to Regiomontanus’ Calendarium – one of only two such copies to appear on the market within living memory [Lot 118, estimate £40,000-60,000]
The sale ends with a finely illuminated fifteenth-century Book of Hours, once in the library of Gabrielle d’Estrées, the long-term mistress and intended second wife of King Henry IV of France. It has a remarkable miniature of death as a skeletal corpse standing in a graveyard with grinning skulls stacked in a charnel house at its rear, striking down a young woman with a spear. The woman is perhaps the original owner of the book, and this image i.
Ibookcollector © is published by Rivendale Press.