Don Quixote succeeds against the odds at Bloomsbury Auctions' antique books sale

Bloomsbury Auctions has concluded its auction of Antiquarian Books & Modern First Editions with classics of Russia and Spain leading the way.

The top lot, as expected, was a copy of a masterpiece written by Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol. It is a very rare first edition of The Adventures of Chichikov, or Dead Souls: A Poem in Two Volumes first printed by Moscow, University Press in 1842-1855.

The book has a fair number of issues, but is one of the classics of Russian literature. The second volume was posthumously published by the author's heirs, having been pieced together from a number of drafts as Gogol burned the original second volume.

It sold on target at £6,500 ($10,300).

The best performing work in the sale however was Cervantes Saavedra's classic Histoire De L'Admirable Don Quixotte De La Manche,in two volumes, with an engraved frontispieces and 49 plates, printed titles in red and black, and two errata.

Don Quixote plate
Don Quixote plate

The copy has suffered a tear at the foot, within text, but without loss, and volume two has a tear to the outer edge, with the loss of a few letters, and the work has some soiling.

However, the book, bound in contemporary vellum is an exceedingly rare edition, with an additional plate not present in the copy at the Biblioteca Nacional; this being the only other copy traceable (according to Bloomsbury).

The edition is based on the influential translation by François Filleau de Saint-Martin, omitting the final chapter of the original (the death of Don Quixote) in order to leave the way open for the translator's own sequel to the story.

Listed at £750-£1000, it caused a small bidding war and only left the stage for £4,800 ($7,650).


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