12 Essentials for the Modern Library

Launch Slideshow

A home library is a personal sanctuary to escape the noise. But quiet doesn’t have to mean boring. After all, the great libraries of the world are repositories for books but also for letters, maps, globes and other collectibles. Elevate your home library from man cave to elegant, sophisticated retreat with a selection of literary memorabilia, plush furnishings, vintage finds, and yes, books chosen from Sotheby’s Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana Online (18–28 June) sale and online marketplace Sotheby's Home. Click ahead for a dozen essentials for the Modern Library. 

Fine Books and Manuscripts including Americana Online
18–28 June | Online

 Photo: Soucie Horner

12 Essentials for the Modern Library

  • [India and Tibet], 'A Hunting Diary of Eleven Expeditions Through India and Tibet: 1875-1895'. N.P.: CA. 1898. Estimate $1,500–2,500.
    A true-life adventure story, told through eleven expeditions in India and Tibet led by an unidentified British army officer who was stationed in the region for more than 20 years. The diary is organized into sections according to the animal being hunted: urial, shapoo, burrel, Himalayan Ibex, tahr, goosel and more. The diarist describes each animal and its habits in engaging entries. Of the ibex, he notes: “They can make their way in the most miraculous manner & at an astonishing pace over seemingly impossible ground.”

  • Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It. West Hatfield, Mass.: Pennyroyal Press, 1989. Estimate $2,000–3,000.

    “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it,” writes Norman Maclean in his beloved novella. Based on his experiences growing up in Montana in family in which "there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing,” Mclean’s A River Runs Through It comes to life in this deluxe edition that also includes illustrations and individual engravings by Barry Moser and an original fly, hand-tied by George Croonenberghs, who taught Maclean the art of fly tying. One of six copies, this edition is as timeless as Mclean’s American classic.
  • J. and W. Cary, Cary's New Terrestrial Globe Exhibiting the Tracks and Discoveries Made By Captain Cook; Also Those By Captain Vancouver on the North-West Coast of America, and M. De La Perouse on the Coast Of Tartary... London: J. & W. Cary, 1816 [With Additions to 1833]. Estimate $20,000–25,000.

    From the early 1790s until the 1850s, the London firm of John Cary was one of the foremost geographic publishers in England. This superb example from 1816, the largest globe offered by Cary and less common than their desk models, records the major North Pacific explorers and labels California as “New Albion.”

  • Vintage Bronze And Marble Leaping Goat Bookends
    With a green and brown patina and mounted on hefty marble bases, these vintage bronze bookends are handsomely rugged additions to your shelves.


    More great finds for the Modern Library are available from Viyet .

  • Vintage Art Deco Style Brass, Glass, and Marble Saturn Table Lamp
    Channel your inner Galileo with this vintage Saturn-shaped lamp . Made of brass with a frosted glass “ring” and a three-tiered marble base, it will illuminate your library with a celestial glow.  


    More great finds for the Modern Library are available from Viyet .

  • Herman Moll, 'A New And Exact Map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain. Containing Newfoundland, New Scotland, New England, New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia and Carolina. According to the Newest and Most Exact Observations'. London: Sold By H. Moll Over Against Deverux Court in the Strand, 1715. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
    Framed and ready for the library wall, this 1715 engraved map of North America is considered to be the first postal map of the American colonies. Inset maps of the Carolinas and part of Florida, and a larger inset depicting industrious beavers – important to the fur trade – at work along a river.

  • J.R.R. Tolkien, '[The Lord of the Rings Trilogy]' — 'The Fellowship of the Ring.' — 'The Two Towers.' — 'The Return of the King.' London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1954, 1954, 1955. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    The super-obsessed LOR fan will have read each of brick-sized tomes in Tolkien's great work of modern fantasy at least five times. But even the mere enthusiast will want to own all three volumes of this epic narrative, especially these 1950s versions, first published in London by Allen & Unwin. The images on the dust jackets as well as printed maps in the back of each volume are after Tolkien’s own designs.  

  • [Williams, Tennessee], Williams's Portable Typewriter on Which He Wrote 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    “Stella!” Before being cried out on stage by the character Stanley Kowalski, the iconic line and the rest of Streetcar Named Desire was typed by playwright Tennessee Williams on this portable Remington. Starting in the spring of 1947, Williams worked on the play in New York, New Orleans and elsewhere, and continued to revise it right up until opening night in December of same year.  

  • George Smith Mohair Velvet Square Chair

    Balancing a strict silhouette with plush, green mohair velvet upholstery, this inviting George Smith mohair velvet lounge chair could become your favorite.


    More great finds for the Modern Library are available from Viyet .


  • Chesterfield-style leather sofa

    This button-tufted, caramel-colored  Chesterfield-style leather sofa brings classic English style to any man cave.


    More great finds for the Modern Library are available from Viyet .


  • Bible in Irish. 'An Biobla Naomhtha, Iona Bhfuil Leabhair Na Seintiomna.' London: Richard Everingham, 1690. Estimate $1,500–2,000.

    Johann Gutenberg made Western history in 1454 when he published a Bible using a mechanical printing press. Comparatively faster to produce and easier to distribute, the Good Book could be translated into many languages, a range of which are in our Books online sale, including Greek , English and this Irish version. Published in the late 17th-century, the edition was for Gaelic-speaking Highlanders of Scotland, who could carry it in their pockets.
  • John Cassin, 'Illustrations of the Birds of California, Texas, Oregon, British, and Russian America'. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1856. Estimate $2,000–3,000.
    Although not as well known as his famous contemporary John James Audubon, the American naturalist John Cassin made significant contributions to birding and natural history. An amateur ornithologist, Cassin was a curator at the Philadelphia Academy of Science and identified species that even Audubon had not discovered. Cassin’s illustrations were originally issued in ten parts from 1853 to 1856; this is the first edition published as a book.


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