Rare books, manuscripts and maps in Dublin auction

Antiquarian travel books and signed first editions among the top lots

A thrilling account of hunting in British Raj India, Oriental Field Sports by Capt Thomas Williamson, published in 1808, is illustrated with hand-coloured plates and estimated at €700-€1,000 at Mealy’s

A thrilling account of hunting in British Raj India, Oriental Field Sports by Capt Thomas Williamson, published in 1808, is illustrated with hand-coloured plates and estimated at €700-€1,000 at Mealy’s

Sat, Dec 7, 2013, 01:00

Rare books seldom achieve the stratospheric multi-million dollar prices that have become almost routine in the international art market. But last month in New York, Sotheby’s sold one of only 11 surviving copies of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in what is now the United States, for $14.1 million. It set a new world auction record for any printed book.

Collectors of rare books are, however, generally motivated by a love of books and not the potential financial return. Happily, while rare and unusual books do have value they are still among the more affordable of collectibles.

Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers’ sale in Dublin on Tuesday, December 10th, features more than 950 lots of rare books, manuscripts and maps of interest not only to collectors but also as gifts “for the man who has everything” or someone from the digital generation who just might be converted to the pleasures of the printed, beautifully bound and illustrated word.

Travel, history, genealogy, military records, natural history, hunting, fiction and poetry are among the categories, with many examples of rare antiquarian books and pamphlets as well as limited and signed first editions. A private collection of 150 maps, to be sold individually, includes one showing both Britain and Ireland “oriented to the east” published in Amsterdam by J Jansson in 1650 (€500-€700).

The catalogue is a treasure trove for bibliophiles. Fascinating travel books include the two-volume Narrative of a Five Year Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam in Guiana on the Wild Coast of South America by Capt JG Stedman (second edition, 1813) estimated at €300-€400.

A thrilling account of hunting in British Raj India, Oriental Field Sports by Capt Thomas Williamson, published in 1808, is illustrated with hand-coloured plates and estimated at €700-€1,000. An unpublished original manuscript journal of Henry MacDermot, a lieutenant in the Connaught Rangers, narrating his voyage to the Cape of Good Hope during the Napoleonic Wars is €1,200-€1,800.

An account of travel closer to home is provided by Somerville and Ross in Through Connemara in a Governess Cart (€120-€180).

A collection of 10 documents relating to early 19th-century poteen seizures in Co Carlow is €150-€180.

The five-volume Indexes to Irish Wills (1909-1920), might shed light on unsolved family disputes during the Christmas holidays, is €200-€300.

One of only 100 copies of Whoroscope by Samuel Beckett, signed by the author from a first edition of 300 copies and printed in 1930 by The Red Hours Press in Paris is estimated at €3,000-€5,000.

Viewing from 1pm tomorrow at the Clyde Court Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, before the auction there at 10.15am on Tuesday, December 10th

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