Peter Harrington at Frieze Masters

by Silke Lohmann

Peter Harrington launched its latest catalogue with a fascinating ‘Drawing a Line’ exhibition at this year’s Frieze Masters on the 2nd October. Exhibiting for the second time at the London fair after last year's new exhibitor showcase, the stand doubled in size and allowed plenty of room for books that certainly changed perceptions, changed the world.

As Adam Douglas of Peter Harrington says “In the past, we identified ourselves and our place in the world by drawing a line. We defined boundaries and our self, but at the risk of creating division. This Peter Harrington exhibition of printed books and related artworks investigates how those dividing lines have been drawn by writers and thinkers of the past. Most of the fiercest clashes over religion, nationality, race, class, gender, and civilization have been fought in the medium of print. Where one writer has drawn a line, another has questioned the need to do so.” 

Early sales could be reported as a Complete set of Captain Cook’s Three Voyages (1773-85), which had an asking price of £45,000, found a new owner on the first day. Captain Cook circled the globe and drew a line around uncharted coastlines, with fatal consequences both for him and the civilizations he encountered. The impressive set included the second edition of each voyage, plus a first edition of The Life of Captain Cook by Andrew Kippis and the celebrated “Death of Cook” plate by John Webber, which is not always present. Almost on the other end of the collectors' market, was the first edition of Thomas Byrnes' Professional Criminals of America, which carried a price tag of £2,250, which sat neatly in the 'crime and punishment' section.

Other highlights include Descartes’s famous argument for the distinct natures of mind and body in his Discours de la Methodé from 1637 (£150,000);  Melville’s dramatization of the clash between humanity and nature in Moby-Dick from 1851 (£42,000); and Marx’s analysis of the inevitable class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in Das Kapital from 1867, a presentation copy to César De Paepe was the leader of the International Working Men's Association in Belgium, replacing his originally rather bland inscription with “brotherly greetings” (£500,000); a signed first edition of Where Do We Go From Here by Martin Luther King (£10,000). Also included is a a bronze bust of Winston Churchill by Sir Jacob Epstein of which 10-16 were cast. One of them was moved to a more prominent position in the Oval Office in January 2017 when Theresa May visited Donald Trump and they were photographed with the bust between them. The catalogue will be available from

Other rare book dealers at Frieze Masters in Regents Park included Daniel Crouch, Shapero, Sims Reed and Dr Jörn Günther Rare Books. The latter brought a work by Albrecht Dürer – a Sammelband which consists of three artists' manuals: on perspective,  fortification and proportions of the human body. 




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