Chronology : 1150-1300 1460-1479 1540-1569 1620-1629 1680-1689 1700-1719
Pax Romana in Britannia
2010 SOLD 2.3 M£ including premium
Cumbria, later Cumberland, is the north-west of England (Britannia), on the border of Scotland (Caledonia). From 875AUC, this territory was protected in the north by the Hadrian wall.
The era of Pax Romana is unique in world history: between the reigns of Augustus and Trajan, the Roman domination was total, without invasion and with limited civil wars. This political success that spans over a century is based on a strong network of garrisons located throughout the borders of the Empire.
Our helmet is necessarily subsequent to the conquests of Vespasian, begun in 824AUC. Christie's dates it to the late first century or to the second century of our calendar.
It is an equipment for parade or sport, not a military helmet. It is composed of two parts. The bronze Phrygian shaped cap is topped by a griffin crest where streamers could be tied. The face mask bearing the likeness of a young man is in tin plated bronze.
This lot is estimated £ 200K, for sale by Christie's in London on October 7. It is shown in the press release shared by Artdaily. As usual in this group, subtract 753 years to convert the Roman calendar dates in the usual system.
POST SALE COMMENT
This beautiful witness to the ancient history of England was worth better than its estimate, and had aroused local passions before the auction. It was sold £ 2.3 million including premium.
The image is shared on Wikimedia with attribution : Portable Antiquities Scheme from London, England [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
1189 The Five Books of Moses
2015 SOLD for $ 3.6M including premium
The first sale of the Valmadonna Trust Library by Sotheby's in New York on December 22 includes three European manuscripts among the oldest that survived the persecutions. They have the usual original textual additions : the major commentaries or Masorah magna in the header and footer and the minor commentaries or Masorah parva in the intervals between the columns.
One of them is dated exactly of 15 Tammuz 4949, corresponding to July 2, 1189 of our calendar. This manuscript of 482 pages 28 x 31 cm is made of the Pentateuch, the Haftarot (books of the Prophets) and the Five Songs. Scholars locate it in England through paleographic considerations and by the presence of Anglo-Norman words in some marginal notes.
1189 was a terrible year for the English Jews who were victims of riots at the coronation of Richard I. Their manuscripts were considered as a wealth and were looted. Very few Jewish belongings escaped this event followed a century later by the expulsion of the Jews from England. This highly rare medieval English Pentateuch in beautiful condition is estimated $ 2M, lot 7.
In the manuscript at lot 6, estimated $ 1.5M, the Pentateuch and Haftarot with both types of Masorah are accompanied by the Targum which is the Aramaic translation of the Pentateuch. Undated, it may be contemporary to the English manuscript discussed above. Its writing is Ashkenazic and a Franco-German origin is assumed.
Lot 5, estimated $ 1M, is considered as the oldest manuscript from the Valmadonna Trust Library although it does not anticipate the other two by more than a few decades. This manuscript in Sephardic writing was done in Spain. It is limited to the Pentateuch and its two Masorah.
Lot 7 (English, 1189) SOLD for $ 3.6M including premium
Lots 5 and 6 unsold
1297 The Magna Carta
2007 SOLD for $ 21.3 M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
In 1215 the English barons revolted against King John. Financial and military demands had not prevented the scathing failures. In a situation of civil war, the king is forced to accept the Magna Carta by which the barons take control of the taxes.
The Magna Carta undergoes several modifications, because the political circumstances change. De facto rejected by King John, the Council of Barons, which was the forerunner of a parliamentary regime, was canceled in 1216 when the child Henry III acceded to the throne. In 1225 Henry III simplified the Magna Carta to facilitate its legal application.
The idea of a Parliament is gaining ground. Edward I takes the habit of summoning his advisers to make decisions concerning taxes and their collection. The operating rules are defined from 1283. It only remained to give force of law to the Magna Carta, which the king assisted by the Parliament solemnly does on October 12, 1297. It is stipulated in 1300 that a copy will be available in each county to be read four times a year.
17 manuscript copies from the 13th century have survived. 15 of them are in British institutions and one in the Australian Parliament.
The 17th document is a copy from 1297. It was bought in 1984 by the US billionaire Ross Perot, who entrusted it for display at the National Archives in Washington DC. It was sold for $ 21.3M including premium by Sotheby's on December 18, 2007. Its new owner, David M. Rubenstein, returned it to the Archives for a new long-term loan. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The Wycliffite Bible
2016 SOLD for $ 1.7M including premium
At that time when most people were illiterate, all the elites understood Latin as well as their vernacular language. His project of translating the Vulgate into Middle English is essentially a social challenge.
A first team to which Wycliffe brings his direct participation translates the Vulgate in word order. Another team works in parallel in his presence to a more comprehensible version. The former (Earlier version) was completed just before the death of Wycliffe that occurred in 1384 and the second (Later version) was completed in 1388.
Wycliffe's teams have not altered the Scriptures and his Bibles cannot be condemned. The upper clergy is furious. The peasants in revolt take as models the anti-establishment positions of Wycliffe and his posthumous condemnation for heresy becomes inevitable. When it is pronounced formally in 1415 by the Council of Constance, it is too late : the Later version is already much appreciated by theologians and its prohibition will be ineffective.
On December 5 in New York, Sotheby's sells a complete manuscript of the New Testament on 21 x 15 cm vellum in the Later Version, lot 9 estimated $ 500K. It is dated from the first half of the 15th century in the catalog and more specifically ca 1430 by the press release. Another manuscript of similar description and date was sold by Christie's on April 30, 2008 for £ 334K including premium worth $ 660K at that time.
1477 Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
1998 SOLD for £ 4.6M (including premium ?) by Christie's
1564 Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Steven van der Meulen
2007 SOLD for £ 2.6M including premium by Sotheby's
1623 Shakespeare's First Folio
2001 SOLD for $ 6.2M including premium by Christie's
1623 The Quadricentennial of Shakespeare's Death
2016 SOLD for £ 1.87M including premium
The First Folio, published in 1623, is of utmost importance in the history of literature since it is the first edition for 18 of the 36 collected plays. It is a beautiful edition 30 x 20 cm for which the texts have been prepared with great care. A complete copy in splendid condition was sold for $ 6.2 million including premium by Christie's on 8 October 2001 over a lower estimate of $ 2M.
The example offered in the next sale was not yet known to scholars. It is resurfacing from the descendance of a prominent bibliophile who was also a scientist of the Enlightenment. Untouched for two centuries, the book has kept a remarkably fresh condition but the nine preamble leaves are missing and several repairs are announced in the catalog. It is estimated £ 800K, lot 101.
The Second Folio, published for the first time in 1632, is very close to the First Folio with respect to the Shakespearean corpus and the bibliophile had perhaps not desired to own it. The copy for sale atlot 102, printed circa 1641, comes from another source. It is estimated £ 180K.
The other two books were in the same collection as lot 101. The Third Folio was published in 1664. This copy in an exceptionally fresh preservation is estimated £ 300K, lot 103. This edition is very rare. At lot 104 the Fourth Folio, dated 1685, is estimated £ 15K.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
First Folio : £ 1.87M
Second Folio : £ 195K
Third Folio : £ 360K
Fourth Folio : £ 47K
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's to introduce the First Folio of the next sale:
1623 Shakespeare's First Folio
2010 SOLD 1.5 M£ including premium
In 1623, seven years later, his closest collaborators had restored and released the closest version of his texts, by memory and using scattered manuscripts. This remarkable and prestigious edition is known as the First Folio. It is forever used as the top reference for any Shakespearean scholarship.
A story gives an idea of the passion that animated the work of these collecters. The printing of the First Folio was suspended over a hundred times to make corrections to the text, so that one cannot find two identical books.
On December 7 in London, Sotheby's auctions a First Folio in very good condition. It has the rare feature of being complete as regards to the texts of all the 36 collected plays.
The estimate, £ 1M, seems low. The same auction house sold £ 2.8 million including premium another complete copy on July 13, 2006. It had been estimated £ 2.5 million, correctly. The binding of the mid-seventeenth century was a little earlier, but I doubt that it explains such a price difference. Wait for the result!
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, £ 1.5 million including premium, is in the upper part of the estimate range.
1640 The Dawn of English Painting
2016 SOLD for £ 1.1M including premium
Art is honored during the reign of Charles I who appointed Van Dyck in 1632 to the new position of Principal Painter in Ordinary of the King. The royal collections are huge and abound in Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. The young William certainly accessed them. He is the first English born artist who may claim to equal the great masters. The civil war will decide otherwise.
On July 6 in London, Bonhams sells a self-portrait by William Dobson, oil on canvas 62 x 47 cm, lot 14 estimated £ 200K.
Dobson does not practice flattery and throughout his short career his portraits and self-portraits are ruthless. From 1643, his figures of royalist aristocrats gathered in Oxford to withstand the Puritans are a scathing testimony of this poorly documented phase of the English history.
The self-portrait for sale shows the head of a young man in full front with a thick mustache, a fleshy mouth and eyes wide open on a straight gaze. The lighting of the face on a tenebrist background akin to Velazquez accentuates the shininess of a skin that may be too fat. Dobson has no need of the influence of Van Dyck to create his own style.
This work executed in a heavy impasto is not yet affected by the shortage of materials characterizing his most prolific period at Oxford. It was probably painted in 1640 or slightly before and is one of the earliest examples of the art of William Dobson.
Please watch the video shared by Bonhams. The image is also made available on Wikimedia by the auction house.
1677 The Grandfather Escapement
2012 SOLD 1.27 M£ including premium
Not only it was one of the most useful of all inventions but also, by raising the skills of the mechanical craftsmen, it was certainly a key to the start of the industrial revolution.
Joseph Knibb, who worked in London since 1670, was one of those masters of the time. Skilled clockmaker, he was a precursor and perhaps one of the inventors of the anchor escapement, a basic accessory designed to ensure the isochrony of the pendulum as a function of the deflection angle.
Back to the beginnings of his career. The horological collection of the watchmaker George Daniels, which will be dispersed on November 6 in London by Sotheby's, includes two clocks made by Joseph Knibb, in ebony, with Roman numerals on the dial.
The most luxurious, dated 1677, has the shape already usual in his time of the table clock, a cube with a handle. It is estimated £ 600K.
The other, made around 1685, is a longcase clock, or in a more familiar wording, a grandfather clock. This type of model is an early easy approach to improve the accuracy thanks to the lengthening of the pendulum. It is estimated £ 200K.
Here is already the link to the announcement of the sale.
Here are the links to the catalogue for the table clock and for the longcase clock.
POST SALE COMMENT
Clocks made by Joseph Knibb were the stars of the George Daniels collection of ancient clocks.
The table clock discussed above was sold £ 1.27 million, and another less luxurious example reached £ 340K. The grandfather clock has not been sold.
Among other makers, let us mention at £ 300K a table clock made around 1697 by Thomas Tompion.
These results include premium.
1687 The Universal Philosophy revealed to the World
2016 SOLD for $ 3.7M including premium
One of his outstanding skills was to develop mathematical methods of high complexity to analyze and support his own physical theories. Even before he was 30, he compared the motion of the planets and the fall of the bodies. Essentially preoccupied with his own understanding of the mechanism of the universe, he published sparingly.
In 1684 in London, the scientists of the Royal Society challenged themselves to find the mathematical formulation of the law of motion of the planets described by Kepler. All failed. Halley visits Newton in Cambridge. He is stunned : Newton knows the solution but has lost his calculation notes. The orbital movement of a celestial body is an ellipse whose position of the other body is one of the foci.
The scientific stake is highly important and Halley manages to persuade Newton to disclose in their entirety his results concerning the law of universal gravitation. Edited and financed by Halley, Newton's Latin book entitled Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica is published in 1687 with the imprimatur of the Royal Society.
The book is difficult in the opinion of the author himself and the circulation probably did not exceed 300 copies but it is of such scientific importance that Halley and Newton took care of organizing their sale through booksellers. One of them named Samuel Smith is more specifically entrusted to the supply onto the Continent and receives about 50 copies for that purpose.
On December 14 in New York, Christie's sells a copy in a luxury binding in inlaid morocco, presented in that state by Smith to an unidentified recipient. It is estimated $ 1M, lot 167.
Another association copy with a binding of a comparable luxury is known. It was offered to King James II, patron of the Royal Society. This book was sold for $ 2.5M including premium by Christie's on December 6, 2013 over a lower estimate of $ 400K.
1693 A Little Clock for Queen Mary
2019 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
Aware of the quality of his production, Tompion numbered his instruments, an exceptional practice in his time for a manufactured product. He mixes in a single serialization list the table clocks and the long case clocks. His clocks have a long autonomy. His grande sonnerie pieces offer a repetition of quarters over a long duration.
From 1692 or 1693 Tompion improves the elegance of his design with his Phase Two which includes the cushion dome, the thistle bud handle, the bellflower keyhole and the operation of the mechanism from the front face.
The master seems more interested in standardization than in miniaturization. Nevertheless Number 215 appears as the first of a small series of Phase Two table clocks with a total height of 28 cm including the raised handle. It was sold for £ 170K including premium by Bonhams on December 13, 2011.
Number 222, made especially for Queen Mary II in 1693 and known as the Q Clock, is the smallest clock ever made by Tompion with an ebony case. It is 20 cm high overall with the handle raised. It offers the quarter repetition and an autonomy of eight days.
Re-assembled in 1949 by a collector with its original movement, the Q Clock was sold for £ 440K including premium by Christie's on June 30, 1993. It will be sold by Bonhams in London on June 19, lot 103. The May 20 press release is announcing for this silver mounted royal clock an estimate in excess of £ 2M. A modern replica is joined to the lot.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
We are delighted to announce that one of the most valuable clocks ever to appear at auction, The King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion, will star in The Clive Collection of Exceptional Clocks in London on 19 June.https://t.co/6ufWtyi4Ax pic.twitter.com/ROoThd69zu— Bonhams (@bonhams1793) May 20, 2019
1705-1706 The Thirst of the Ambassador
2010 SOLD 2.5 M£ including premium
Unreleased until its arrival at auction in London on July 6, this silverware had been created on an initiative by Queen Anne. Seeking to ensure the standing of her ambassadors, she allocated to them a weight of silver with which they could have made an object enabling them to dazzle in society.
The ambassador in Berlin, from the Wentworth family, exceeded his quota and had to share the expenses! In any other country than England, this enormous bucket would risk a thousand times to be melted during the three centuries of its existence. But it remained cool (!) In the family of its first owner, and is now estimated 1.5 million pounds.
Despite the outstanding and royal features of this piece, the estimate is ambitious.
POST SALE COMMENT
The market has confirmed the exceptional nature of this piece of silverware: £ 2.5 million including premium.
It is viewed towering in the middle of the showroom at Sotheby's on this page shared before the sale by Art Market Monitor.