History of the search for the Nile's source stars at rare books sale

National Book Auctions, located in Ithaca, NY, held a recent auction with a wide assortment of automotive, historical, exploration-related books and ephemera on offer along with a collection of important signed material.

Of particular note was John Hannig Speke's "What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile" (1864). This antique volume is a scarce history of the explorer John Speke's search for the source of the Nile River.

Frontispiece from Speke's What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile
Frontispiece: 'The Speke Escape'

The work is illustrated with a frontispiece portraying Speke's escape from the natives, a fold-out map of Somali Land, listing the location of the various tribes, and a two-page map, with a red line showing the expedition routes. The book fetched a hammer price of $1,000 (plus buyer's premium).

Also featured was a signed late printing of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1960). The classic work was signed by Harper Lee on the front free endpaper and inscribed "To Eddy With My Best Wishes, Harper Lee." This one-of-a-kind find realised a hammer price of $650.

Harper Lee's signature in To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee's signature in To Kill a Mockingbird

A seven-volume set of "The American Museum, or Universal Magazine" (1789-1792) fetched a $700 realised price. Bound in marbled boards, with three quarter leather, gilt embossing and raised spine bands, this antique set is a scarce collection and an important magazine publication from its period.

The auction rounded out with a 34-volume set of the "Bulletin of the American Geographical and Statistical Society" (G. P. Putnam & Co. 1853-1915). This collection includes a rare set of bulletins from the American Geographical and Statistical Society, spanning sixty-two years.

Fold-out map from the Bulletin
Fold-out map from the Bulletin
(Click to enlarge)

The bulletins cover a variety of topics, from various geographic areas worldwide to agriculture and crop data. The volumes are illustrated with engravings and fold-out maps throughout. A $1,800 (plus buyer's premium) hammer price was realised on this important set.

Collectors and investors will now be looking forward to National Book Auctions' next sale at the end of the month. See below for more details or take a look at these books and manuscripts which are on the market right now.


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