Rare Henry Cook travel book cruises to $88,100 at Dominic Winter

We've previously discussed the value of travel and exploration in collectibles with the likes of Captain Cook's waistcoat receiving an offer of $370,000. Last week, however, Dominic Winter's Travel & British Topography sale was celebrating a different Cook: Henry Cook.

Henry Cook was the author of a book Recollections of a Tour in the Ionian Islands, Greece, and Constantinople, published by Thomas M'Lean in 1853.

With thirty tinted lithographed plates, it is in reasonable condition with some scattered spotting, two plates and marginal soiling and fraying to the lower edge, with one or two short closed tears, a few leaves loose, original yellow chalk-glazed endpapers the original cloth lettered in gilt to upper cover.

The book is distinctly rare - it's not in the standard Abbey or Blackmer references. Only two UK copies have a known location (The British Library and SOAS).

Henry Cook Ionian Island Tour book
A tranquil seascape form the Henry Cook book

The few copies that have appeared at auction have all been incomplete, except for the copy sold at Sotheby's on November 4th 2010, which had been hand-coloured at a later date.

It is a scarce account of a tour by Henry Cook (1819-c.1890), Chevalier of the Order of SS. Maurizio e Lazaro, undertaken with the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Sir Henry Ward (1797-1860).

Cook studied painting at the Royal Academy and in Rome, exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1840 to 1855, where he showed his picture entitled 'Temple of Jupiter Olympus', presumably the original of one of the two plates so titled in the present work.

Henry Cook Ionian Island Tour book
A ruined temple from Ionian Island Tour book

The work contains views of Corfu, Cephalonia, Corinth, Athens, The Parthenon, The Erectheum, Mycenae, Scutari, Constantinople and the Golden Horn, and elsewhere.

Dominic Winter knew this was to be one of their star lots, and gave it a suitable estimate of £15,000-20,000. But there were collectors present who really wanted this rare and valuable work and it was buffeted by bids all the way up to £56,000 ($88,100).

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