Christie’s has put together an appealing sale of Americana that’s to be sold on May 19th in New York. The sale includes 204 lots of which 53 relate to Benjamin Franklin, 34 to the French and Indian War, 25 to California as an island and 16 to Abraham Lincoln. Fifty-nine lots are in the letters, manuscripts and signatures category, eighty are books and pamphlets; twenty-four are broadsides, and forty-one maps and ephemera. The emphasis is on the highly collectible.
It’s a catalogue of serious if sometimes obscure material. The estimates are generally appealing, the prospects of bargains evident. Christie’s tends to estimate low to encourage interest and sometimes you can actually steal something. But to do so of course you have to bid and once bidding... The high estimates of the first ten lots altogether are $33,300. You can buy things in this sale.
Four consignors are identified, the Brooklyn Historical Society [17 lots], The New Jersey Historical Society , the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania , and material from the Collection of John W. Whitely, Jr, [XX]. Two other categories, material relating to Franklin and 25 items offered under the heading California as an Island, are consigned as the property of private collectors. When the identity of sellers are known the sales are always more interesting. In this sale the majority of the lots are identified.
This is a sale that ten years ago would have contained four hundred lots. To maintain the same standards the volume of material has declined, reflecting that the market for important material has thinned and consignors grown wary.
An interesting test of market enthusiasm will be lot 70: [New York] Breeden-Raedtaende Vereenichde Nederlandsche Provintien. Antwerp: Francoysvan Duynen, 1649. This is the first edition of the earliest separate publication relating to New Netherland. For serious collectors of New York history it’s significant and according to the AED exceptionally rare.