Friday, 25 January 2013

Auction 24 Review,  the Cape Town based on-line Africana and rare book auction site, starts the New Year on 24th January with Auction no. 24 which is the first of eight auctions that will be held every six weeks until late November. Over 350 lots on a wide variety of subjects are being offered.

Children’s’ books are a popular area of collecting. An anomaly is that the prize for the collector are books in very good or fine condition whereas most books for children are heavily used by their young readers and are rarely found in pristine state. Humpty Dumpty is one of the best-know nursery rhymes in the English-speaking world. Whilst the earliest versions can be traced to the beginning of the 19th century it is only later in the century that the rhyme became widely popular. In the present auction one of the earliest printed versions is being offered. Published in 1843 the tale is portrayed in hand-coloured pictures on a concertina strip which when folded out measures over 1.6 metres. A curiosity of this edition is that the text as well as being printed in English also appears in Hebrew, Latin, Welsh, Greek, German and Italian. Whilst this might indicate that it was intended for a wide market very few copies have survived in major libraries and hardly any in private hands. The estimate is R30,000.

Pictorial Humpty Dumpty, Aliquis Fecit - Picture 1Pictorial Humpty Dumpty, Aliquis Fecit - Picture 2

Winston Churchill wrote prolifically throughout his lifetime and published numerous books. In a style which was both elegant and correct (he quipped ‘ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put’) his books cover early biography including his adventures in the Boer War to a History of the English Speaking Peoples in four volumes. The auction offers an edition of his collected major works in 25 volumes handsomely bound in red leather which is estimated at R9000. Churchill’s books are always issued over his name printed as Winston S. Churchill. This is because there was an earlier American novelist, Winston Churchill, who by the 1890’s had gained a wide readership. When Winston S. become aware of the American Churchill’s books he wrote to him suggesting that he would in future sign his own works Winston S. Churchill using his middle name Spencer.
The Major Works Of Sir Winston Churchill
The South African author Wilbur Smith is one of the best-selling novelists of recent times. During the past forty eight years he has published over thirty novels but perhaps surprisingly only seven of them have been turned into films. In the auction the original film script of Gold is being sold. It is the definitive copy of this rare film script based on the novel Gold Mine published in 1970. The screenplay is by Smith himself together with Stanley Price. It is a presentation copy from the producer of the film, Michael Klinger, to Smith. There is an inscription which reads, “Our Gold,  3/8/74 With fond memories of the first of our many films together, Michael". Consisting of 102 mimeographed A4 pages it is finely bound in leather with Wilbur Smith's initials W.S. embossed on the front cover. Klinger was a well-known film producer whose films include Get Carter with Michael Caine. Gold was filmed in South Africa and starred Roger Moore, Susannah York and John Gielgud. Despite the inscription the only other Wilbur Smith novel he filmed was Shout at the Devil. Gold is expected to sell for more than R35,000.

"Gold" Original Film Script - Wilbur Smith's Own Copy - Picture 1"Gold" Original Film Script - Wilbur Smith's Own Copy - Picture 2

A photograph album dating from 1887, which is bound in sturdy black leather and bears a title in gilt letters, Natal and St. Johns  (Pondoland)  offers something very unusual to the collector of South African photographica.  It comprises 58 full plate and 8 smaller albumen print views of Durban and surrounding areas, the Zulu War battlefields, St Johns Pondoland as well as ethnographic studies. There is an image of two men in a small wooden sailing boat with the caption, ‘“Homeward Bound”- Sailed from Part Natal May 2nd 1886 arrived at London March 29th 1887’. A surely heroic and little-known adventure. The album is estimated at R17,500.

Photographic Views - Natal And St John’s (Pondoland) Picture 1Photographic Views - Natal And St John’s (Pondoland) Picture 2

The sale runs from  24 - 31 January. To view all the full decsribed and illustrated lots visit

This article appeared in the Business Day on  25 January