The first sale of the Brooke-Hitching library attracted bids from around the world and set many new auction records.
The top four lots related to the voyages of the great explorer and cartographer Captain Cook: Alexander Shaw’s A Catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook (£182,500), the first printed map of Australia (£134,500), Samwell’s Narrative on the death of Captain James Cook (£104,500), and a set of first editions of the official accounts of Cook’s voyages (£92,500). Other records were made for the first book printed in Alaska, Henry Hester’s Polar Almanac (£35,000) and for Edward Christian’s Short reply to Capt. William Bligh’s Answer (£80,500).
Over 40 years, Franklin Brooke-Hitching assembled the finest private collection of books relating to voyages, exploration and discovery in English ranging from the 16th century to the 1930s. Together they tell the story of mankind’s persistent quest – over half a millennium – to explore and understand the world. Many of the books are unique or very rare presentation copies from the authors, or in fine bindings, and all are notable for being in the finest condition imaginable. The library also contains books on science, medicine and natural history, including works on the health of seafarers, astronomy, the calculation of longitude, and whaling.
The library of some 1,400 titles will be sold alphabetically by author over a series of four sales, starting on 27 March with authors A to C, including important works on Captain Cook and his voyages. The second sale will take place on 30 September 2014 and two further sales will be held in spring and autumn 2015.
This first sale includes the first book printed in Alaska, the earliest printed map of Australia, a catalogue of different specimens of Tapa cloth collected during Captain Cook’s voyages to the Pacific Ocean, and magnificent copies of first editions by Richard Francis Burton.