From Isaac Newton to Harry Potter - science & magic combine in the saleroom

Tennants Auctioneers’ Book Sale on 2nd August saw buyers battling it out for scientific treatises and maps alongside an extremely rare volume of poetry containing early works by J. R. R. Tolkien and an uncorrected proof copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The top lot of the sale was a 1729 copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, translated into English by Andrew Motte (Volume 1). First published in Latin in 1687, Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica is regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science, containing his Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation. This small volume attracted interest from around the world, and after competing bids drove the price well over the £500-800 estimate, a hammer price of £3,500 was finally achieved.

Maps and topographical plans were in demand too, with two lots in particular causing a stir. A Map of London by C & J Greenwood published in 1827 sold for £2,600 against an estimate of £1,000-2,000, and a first edition Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark ‘Shewing every House’ from 1792-9 sold for £2,300.

Fiction and fantasy brought a magical note to the sale: an uncorrected proof copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998) proved the continued fascination with the boy wizard, selling for £1,100 against an estimate of £200-400. Selling strongly too was an extremely rare first impression copy of ‘A Northern Venture’ (1923), a volume of poetry containing early works by J.R.R. Tolkien. Published by the Leeds University English School Association, where Tolkien was a Reader of English, the little volume include ‘Why The Man In The Moon Came Down Too Soon’ and the riddle poem ‘Enigmata Saxonica Nuper Inventa Duo’, which would later find themselves published in revised form in ‘The Adventures of Tom Bombadil’ and the ‘Annotated Hobbit’ respectively. The volume sold for £3,000.

The sale resulted in a total hammer price of £42,290 with 79% of the 135 lots sold.

We are currently accepting lots for the next sale of Books, Maps, Prints & Manuscripts on 29th November, please contact us on 01969 623780 or enquiry@tennants-ltd.co.uk for details.

Full results are available here



Sir Isaac Newton: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, 1729 – Sold for £3,500
(top left) J K Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 1998, An uncorrected proof copy – Sold for £1,100