Some Select Words

Some Select Words

By Eloise Shiner

The upcoming Saturday Select auction marks the return of the long awaited Book sale, containing a catalogue of high end and antiquarian pieces. Despite a select choice of books, the sale is to feature a broad range of genres, topics and editions. Included are a variety of beloved and iconic children’s authors - such as Rudyard Kipling and Lewis Carroll - spanning several decades so that everyone should be able to enjoy a taste of their childhood. 

One of the most anticipated lots of the sale is an edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, commonly referred to as the ‘peacock edition’ due to the sumptuous cover design. Published by ‘London George Allen’ in 1894, the peacock edition was the first fully illustrated edition of the novel and despite not being an early edition, is a widely sought after text because of this. Irish illustrator, Hugh Thomson was responsible for the design and was best known for his contributions to works by authors such as Charles Dickens and J. M Barrie. Thomson’s peacock illustrations for the front cover have now become synonymous with Pride and Prejudice, as well as Jane Austen’s work in general, despite there being no mention of peacocks in the book. Thomson opted to reflect the grandeur of the novel, as well as themes of vanity, courtship and an excessive display of wealth through his illustrations. Often considered to be the most beautiful edition of the book, Thomson’s designs have influenced illustrators for many later editions and he subsequently had illustrations featured in several exhibitions during the late 19th Century. This edition was reprinted several times up until 1906 and over 11,600 copies were sold in the years 1894-95. 

As well as novels, the sale is to include a variety of non-fiction and informational texts. One such text is a Manuscript recipe book by Gabriel Tschumi, who was a master chef to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and George V, and who catered to several other members of the Royal family beside. The manuscript, entitled Recipes from my service with the Royal Family by Gabriel Tschumi includes such recipes as ‘Queen Alexandra’s Favourite Dish - Poulet d’Avoise’ and ‘Invalid dishes prepared for King George V when… convalescing at Bognor in 1929’. Born in 1883, Tschumi was a Swiss national appointed to the Royal Household at 16. He worked at Buckingham Palace, Balmoral, and worked on Edward VII’s 1902 Coronation banquet before receiving his Long and Faithful service medal in 1930, two years before retirement. He was subsequently awarded the Royal Victorian Medal in Silver. Tschumi’s Manuscript offers a valuable, first-hand insight into a section of history that cannot be found in the history books, made particularly personal by his notes detailing the Monarch’s favourite foods. 

Also up for auction are a number of historical texts, to include a Bible printed in 1696 by the University of Oxford and a North African Arabic volume entitled Sahih al-Bukhari. Written during the late 18th Century, the Manuscript contains 200 leaves in a Maghrebi script of prophetic traditions - the Hadith - in Sunni Islam, which is revered to be a major source of moral guidance by many Muslims, second only to the Quran. 

Some other interesting texts to note include a collection of classical Chinese poetry translated by modernist poet, Ezra Pound - Cathay - and a bound volume of Night and Day issues, spanning 1937. Night and Day was a short lived literary magazine edited by Graham Greene with contributions by Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell et al, and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone and Felix Topolski, amongst others. The magazine was short lived as it was sued for libel by 20th Century Fox over comments in Greene’s film review about child actress, Shirley Temple. Bound in thick 4to, contemporary blue cloth and with original wraps, the volume not only makes a fascinating read, but serves a stunning artistic purpose as well.