Robert Pirie rare book collection to sell at Sotheby's



2015-09-28 10:21:30

Sotheby's has announced it will sell the remarkable collection of Robert S. Pirie, one of the world’s most renowned book collectors.

Described as "the finest collection of early English literature in private hands", Pirie's library includes significant copies of works by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Marlowe, and John Donne amongst others. 

Pirie focused his efforts on acquiring the rarest 16th and 17th-century volumes with the finest provenance, and the collection is expected to achieve in excess of $15 million.

The single –owner sale in New York will also feature a variety of items from Pirie's estate, including similarly impressive collections of prints, drawings, English silver, French porcelain and Asian art.

Notable highlights from Pirie's library will include the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s Poems, dated 1640 and estimated at $150,000-$200,000; a highly rare illustrated fifth edition of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, printed in 1526 and valued at $200,000-$300,000; and a presentation copy of Isaac Newton's Opticks, dated 1704, gifted by Newton to the astronomer Edmund Halley and estimated at $400,000-$600,000.

“Those lucky enough to have known Bob Pirie remember an utterly charming man of forceful, but thoughtful, convictions, of supreme good taste, and of great generosity as a master host," said David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman.

"He had the widest circle of friends—his interest was interesting people, and they flocked to him in droves. His astonishing book collection reflected yet another side of his complex personality—his passionate engagement with early English literature, his fascination with provenance and his love of the sheer beauty of the English language.”

Property from the Collection of Robert S Pirie takes place at Sotheby's in New York on December 2-5.

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