Highlights include the oldest item to ever be offered by Peter Harrington, an outstandingly preserved volume from an early Japanese manuscript on Mahayana Buddhism, two fascinating early Buddhist sutras that reveal the role Korean monks played in the development, flourishing and transmission of Buddhist ideas across East Asia, a “noble fragment” from the Gutenberg Bible, as well as a signed first edition of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, one of the most beloved works of 20th century literature, celebrated through public installations across South Korea and even a new dedicated museum that opened on Jeju Island earlier this summer.
AUGUST 2023: World-leading rare book dealer Peter Harrington will participate in Frieze Seoul for the first time this year, with an inaugural collection of 50 exceptionally rare works that illustrate the artistic and aesthetic elements of manuscript and print culture, from its beginnings in East Asia through to the present day.
The selection includes works dating from the 8th century CE to the 20th century, demonstrating a history of continuity and contrast spanning almost 1,400 years.
“The unknown scribe who reverentially brushed the oldest item, a Buddhist manuscript from Japan’s golden age of sutra copying, is a strikingly different figure to Banksy, the creator of the most recent piece, the Kate Moss colourway. Yet both show the power of works on paper to memorialize and celebrate cultural legacies, whether
through brushing Buddhist teaching in fine calligraphy or screen-printing an homage to an iconic 20th-century artist,” says Dr Matthew Wills who put together Peter Harrington’s inaugural selection.
Highlights include the oldest item to ever be offered by Peter Harrington, an 8th-century outstandingly preserved volume from an early Japanese manuscript on Mahayana Buddhism, as well as two fascinating early Buddhist sutras that reveal the role Korean monks played in the development, flourishing and transmission of Buddhist ideas across East Asia, a “noble fragment” from the Gutenberg Bible, and a signed first edition of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, one of the most beloved works of 20th century literature, celebrated through public installations across South Korea and a dedicated museum on Jeju Island that opened earlier this summer.
The selection places in conversation the sacred and the secular, with the rich religious heritage of medieval Europe and Asia sitting alongside landmark works such as Hypnerotomachia by Francesco Colonna, a Venetian masterpiece of the art of printing, and Kaikoku heidan (The Military Defence of a Maritime Nation) by Hayashi Shihei, a revolutionary text that critiqued the Japanese shogunate’s isolationism.
The selection also includes landmark works that had wide-reaching influence as vehicles of knowledge and influence, whether literary, economic or evolutionary. Foremost are Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, presented in its second folio edition (1632), and a first edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species, the first appearance in print of Ptolemy’s Cosmographia and, in the year of his tercentenary, a first edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.
Other exceptional rarities include one of the precious few surviving leaves from Charles Dickens’s draft of the Pickwick Papers, rich with annotations in the author’s distinctive hand, and Napoleon’s manuscript notes, revealing an unguarded admiration for the famous economist that he subsequently strove to bury.
There are also several prized signed and inscribed first editions, including a Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, inscribed by J. K. Rowling at a book shop in Edinburgh, and a signed limited issue of Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince, the allegorical tale first written in French 80 years ago, so loved by generations of Koreans.
The gathering also includes several original illustrations such as the delicate creations of Kay Nielsen’s for In Powder and Crinoline, and the compositions of E. H. Shepard, who brought to life the world’s most famous honey-eating bear, Winnie-the-Pooh. A striking canvas colourway of Kate Moss by Banksy, that pays homage to (and simultaneously subverts) Andy Warhol’s own iconic visual aesthetic, brings the fair selection to a close.
“We are delighted to be participating in Frieze Masters Seoul for the first time this year. We have exhibited at our home fair, Freize Masters London, for several years now, and have found it presents an unparalleled opportunity to connect with global art and antiques collectors with very exacting tastes, as well offering our existing clients a fantastic programme of events in our home city. We expect Frieze Seoul to be another exciting platform that will allow us to develop and deepen our connections to the discerning collector market in Asia,” said Ben Houston, Director of Sales at Peter Harrington.
“In putting together our inaugural selection we have adopted a formula that has worked well for us in other international markets – marrying a celebration of exceptional early regional manuscript and printed works with a collection of core foundational texts from the Western canon. Bringing on an Asian printed works specialist to the Peter Harrington team has also meant that we now have the expertise in house to delve more into the fascinating material from East Asia to the same level of depth and detail as our core specialisms in antiquarian books published in the English language,” Houston continued.
Peter Harrington will exhibit at Freize Seoul 2023, stand M13
Daihannyaharamittakyo (“Great Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom”), Japanese Early Manuscript Culture (760) – £35,000
An extraordinary artefact of Japanese Buddhism’s formative period. A 600-volume collection of 16 different sutras, including the Diamond Sutra, each traditionally believed to represent teachings conveyed by the Buddha to a different assembly of followers.
Dafangguangfo Huayanjing shu (“Commentary on the Flower Garland Sutra”), Korean Early Printing (1087) – £100,000
An exceptionally rare and well-preserved 11th-century testament to the vital role of print in spreading Buddhist thought throughout East Asia.
Bonmokyo koshakuki (“Commentary on the Brahma’s Net Sutra”) by Japan; Early Printing (1315)
The effervescence of Japanese Buddhism during the Kamakura period. Brahma’s Net Sutra (Brahmajala Sutra) is based on Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhist teachings and incorporates important Chinese moral and ethical ideas such as filial piety.
Kaikoku heidan (“The Military Defence of a Maritime Nation”)by Shihei Hayashi (1786) – £125,000
First edition of this landmark geopolitical analysis, one of only 38 copies completed before it was suppressed and the author imprisoned.
Single leaf from the New Testament, 1 John 2:3-4:16by Johann Gutenberg; Latin Bible (1455) – £110,000
A single paper leaf from the Gutenberg bible, the first complete book printed with moveable type in Europe. This “Noble Fragment” originates from an imperfect copy of the Gutenberg Bible, lacking 50 leaves.
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna (1499) – £225,000
First edition of this highly prized incunable, referred to as the most beautiful illustrated book of the Renaissance, the epitome of Aldine design.
Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943) – £35,000
First edition in English, signed limited issue, number 61 of 525 copies signed by the author, of which 500 copies were for sale.
Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies by William Shakespeare (1632) – £460,000
The Second Folio, first issue, the edition that the Puritan scold William Prynne complained was printed on best crown paper. The Second Folio is notable for containing the first published poem in English of the 24-year-old John Milton.
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin (1859) – £300,000
First edition in which Darwin explained his concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection, which would become the foundation of modern evolutionary theory.
Cosmographia by Claudius Ptolemaeus (1475) – £450,000
An exceptional copy of the most celebrated geographical treatise of classical antiquity; an edition of the greatest rarity, and a monumental achievement of geographical knowledge and a cornerstone of the European tradition.
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776) – £275,000
First edition of the Wealth of Nations, one of an estimated 500 or 750 copies (Tribe); an attractive unrestored copy with a splendid provenance. “The first and greatest classic of modern economic thought”.
Original autograph leaf from The Posthumous Papersof the Pickwick Clubby Charles Dickens (1837) – £97,500
Original autograph manuscript leaf with authorial deletions and insertions from Pickwick Papers, the novel that transformed an obscure 25-year-old journalist into England’s most famous author in a matter of months. One of only five such leaves remaining in private hands.
Autograph manuscript notes on Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations by Napoleon (1791) – £250,000
An exceptional manuscript in Napoleon’s hand revealing his initial response to Smith’s Wealth of Nations. The manuscript is remarkable in establishing that Napoleon’s first reaction to Smith’s ideas was not disdain, as he would later affect, but admiration.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997) – £225,000
This copy was inscribed in Edinburgh in 1998 at James Thin’s bookshop. This is a significant copy: not only is there a delightful play on the name Harriet (Harry) but also apparent prescience from the author in appreciation of first editions.
“List, ah, list to the zephyr in the grove!”by Kay Nielsen (illus.); Arthur Quiller-Couch (1913) – £50,000
Published within In Powder and Crinoline, sub-titled “Old Fairy Tales Retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch”, in 1913. Original artwork from the artist’s first major success.
Two original ink drawings from “Piglet Meets a Heffalump”by Ernest H. Shepard (illus.); A. A. Milne (1926) – £110,000
The two concluding illustrations from chapter five of Winnie-the-Pooh (”In which Piglet meets a Heffalump”) and both published on page 68 of the original 1926 Methuen edition.
Kate Moss Original Colourwayby Banksy (1718) – £1,250,000
Banksy’s homage to Warhol on canvas.
NOTE ON INTERNATIONAL DELIVERY: Items in this catalogue are available for sale at www.peterharrington.co.uk We offer free standard international delivery on book orders above £200.