Very rare 17th century atlas leads historic books auction

Next week, a 450 lot auction of books and manuscripts is coming to Leslie Hindman auctioneers and it offers lots to interest any book collector attracted to literature, language or travel.

One remarkable lot is a first edition, first printing of Samuel Johnson's groundbreaking dictionary from 1755 in two volumes. The two-volume set has minimal foxing and a bright interior and the first volume bears an armorial bookplate of a John Daniel.

The work is expected to bring $6,000-8,000, as is a collected set of Charles Dickens's works in 25 volumes with uniform binding.

One particularly interesting piece is a first edition, first printing copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin together with an autographed letter signed by the author thanking the recipient for his praises of her recent work and discussing the character of Nina Gordon, from Dred: A Tale of Great Dismal Swamp:

"It is a weakness that attends us makers of puppet shows that we sometimes conceive a real human affection for some of our corps de ballet as Pygmalion for his statue. I had such a weakness for my little Nina ...

"In fact I have such a motherly weakness for the poor child that whoever speaks well of her becomes henceforth a discerning person in my eyes . . ." The book and letter are together listed at just $5,000-7,000, and probably represent a worthy investment.

The expected top lot, however, is an atlas in two calfskin volumes drafted by Gerard Mercator for a 1636 publication. The rare first English edition of the work contains 195 maps (lacking one: of Transylvania).

In generally good condition, the important work is for sale with an estimate of $30,000-50,000 in the auction which takes place on August 12 in Chicago.


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