• http://catalogue.swanngalleries.com/asp/searchresults.asp?sale_no=2419&st=D&viewby=lot_asc&ps=25&pg=1
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Lewis Carroll, <i>Alice's Adventures</i>, illustrated & signed by Salvador Dalí, New York, 1969. <br>$12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> David Roberts, <i>The Holy Land</i>, 6 volumes, London, 1842-49. <br>$35,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Arthur Szyk, <i>The Szyk Haggadah</i>, edited by Cecil Roth, first edition, signed, London, 1939. <br>$15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>The Dramatic Works</i>, 9 illustrated volumes, London, 1802. $5,000 to $7,500.
    http://catalogue.swanngalleries.com/asp/searchresults.asp?sale_no=2419&st=D&viewby=lot_asc&ps=25&pg=1
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Grimm Brothers, <i>Little Brother & Little Sister</i>, illustrated & signed by Arthur Rackham, London, 1917. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> John Milton, <i>Paradise Lost</i>, illustrated by John Martin, London, 1846. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Edward Young, <i>The Complaint, and The Consolation</i>, first edition, illustrated by William Blake, London, 1797. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> <i>Catalogue of the Morgan Collection of Chinese Porcelains</i>, first edition, New York, 1904-11. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Arader June 11:</b> Audubon Aquatint by Havell, Purple Heron Purple Heron or Reddish Egret, Plate 256. London: Havell, 1827-1838.<br>Est. $45,000-$60,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Audubon Aquatint by Havell, Wild Turkey, Male Wild Turkey, Male, Plate 1. London: Havell, 1827-38. Est. $80,000-$100,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Audubon Lithographs, Imperial Folio, Common Deer Common Deer, Plate 136. Philadelphia: J. T. Bowen, 1839-44. Est. $12,000-$15,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Charles H. Smith, Indian Elephant Watercolor Indian Elephant. Charles H. Smith (1760 - 1859). Est. $6,000-$8,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Spectacularly Rare Copper Engraving Solanum Pomiferum. Basil Besler (1561-1629). Est. $5,000-$8,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> John Contable Drawing of River Stour Barges on the River Stour at Flatford, Suffolk John Constable (1776-1837).<br>Est. $45000-$65000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Pine's The Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords The Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords. Est. $18000-$22000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Exceptionally Fine and Attractive Copy of Bertram's Travels Travels. William Bartram (1729-1823). Est. $22000-$25000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Mortier & Covens French edition of Mitchell A Map of the British and French Dominions in N America... Est. $15000-$25000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Jefferson and Fry Map of Virgina, 1776 A Map of the Most Inhabited part of Virginia... <br>Est. $12000-$18000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Floriano, Untitled World Map on a Double Hemisphere Polar Projection World Map. Antonio Floriano. Est. $75000-$100000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Bierstadt Chromolithograph of Yosemite Domes of Yosemite. Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). Est. $18000-$25000.
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. Iconic signed Darwin photograph "I like this photograph much better than any other which ..."
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>Autograph Letter Signed</i>. Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> WRIGHT, WILBUR. Experiments and Observations in Soaring Flight. Journal of the Western Society of Engineers 8, no. 4 (August, 1903).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH. Signed and dated Oxford 1931.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> GARDNER, ALEXANDER. Antietam Bridge, Maryland. "One of the memorable spots in the history of the war."
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Normal Rockwell. Painting/Drawing Signed. Rockwell's "Barbeshop Quartet", 1936.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1782. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2013 Issue

A Handwritten Letter Sells for a Record $6 Million-Plus

Fcrickletter

Francis Crick's “Secret of Life” letter to his son.

On April 10, the highest price ever paid for a letter at auction was achieved at Christie's in New York. If there was any doubt about the growing interest in more ephemeral sorts of works on paper, this should help put it to rest. At over $6 million, or 3 to 6 times the estimate range, there was no shortage of serious interest.

The letter itself is something of a surprise. It was not from one of the great world leaders, a Lincoln, Churchill, or Napoleon. It was not from the most famous of scientists, a Galileo, Kepler, or Newton. It was not even very old, written just sixty years ago. The writer only died in the last decade, his partner and the recipient are still living (and attended the auction). While his name is well-recognized in the scientific community, if you interviewed people on the street and asked who Francis Crick is, most would probably respond with blank stares. What we now know about him is that, along with being a great scientist, he wrote a letter worth $6 million. Obviously, he is more important than the typical man on the street realizes.

For those who have forgotten, Francis Crick, along with his partner, James Watson, discovered the nature of the DNA molecule. To put it more bluntly, they discovered how physical characteristics, and life itself, is transmitted from one individual to another. They were first to understand how the DNA molecule could copy itself, and thereby transmit life to another. Crick and Watson had been working on models of the DNA molecule, trying to break the code. On the last day of February, 1953, they had their voilà moment. They suddenly realized how everything must fit together within the molecule for it all to work.

Crick was not shy in recognizing its importance. He announced to others, only “half-jokingly” as Watson would later write, that they had found “the secret of life.” The two spent March busily constructing models to get it down right, and began to prepare a paper they would submit to Nature magazine on April 2 announcing their discovery. It was during this period that Crick would write his $6 million letter. It was not directed to a fellow scientist or researcher. Instead, it was sent to a 12-year-old boy. That boy was Michael Crick, Francis's son, off at boarding school. Crick regularly explained such things to his son, who was interested in secret codes, so this clearly would have fascinated him. In his letter, Crick explains as clearly as possible what has been discovered. This is the first known written explanation of the discovery, and probably the only first account of such a major scientific discovery to conclude with the line, “Lots of love, Daddy.”

Francis Crick begins his letter modestly with, “Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. We have built a model for the structure of des-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid (read it carefully) called D.N.A. You may remember that the genes of the chromosomes - which carry the hereditary factors - are made up of protein and D.N.A. Our structure is very beautiful.” He goes on to say, “...we think we have found the basic copying mechanism by which life comes from life.” He also explains in more detail how its reproduction works, and even provides a crude drawing of their double helix model. Crick promises to show the model to his 12-year-old son when he comes home.

The importance of the discovery and the significance of this letter was well understood by Christie's. Its existence has long been known, it carrying the sobriquet of the “Secret of Life” letter. They slapped an estimate of $1 - $2 million on it. Not even they were prepared for what happened. By the time the bidding stopped, the price had crossed the $6 million mark (including commissions). The final price was $6,059,750. The letter was purchased by an unnamed buyer who placed a bid by telephone.

The auction included only two other items, both relating to Crick, and both easily surpassing estimates. An early 1950s four-page manuscript notebook, estimated at $4,000-$6,000, sold for $21,250. A pencil drawing of Crick by his wife, Odile, estimated at $8,000 - $12,000, went for $17,500. Odile Crick was an artist, though she is best known for her drawing of the double helix used by her husband and Watson.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts, 8 June 2016, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 1. ARISTOTLE. 384-322 B.C.E. De animalibus [De historia animalium. De partibus animalium. De generatione animalium.] US$ 300,000-500,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 44. ARIOSTO, LUDOVICO. 1474-1533. Orlando Furioso in English Heroical Verse, by John Haringto[n]. [London: Richard Field, 1591.] US$ 70,000-90,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 183. HARRISON, William Henry. Document Signed AS PRESIDENT ("W.H. Harrison"). US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 116. <br>ALI, MUHAMMAD. B.1942. U.S. Passport Signed ("Muhammad Ali") Twice, [Dublin, July 19, 1972].<br>US$ 25,000-35,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 52. Bible In English. [Mearne, Samuel, binder.] The Holy Bible containing the bookes of the Old & New Testament. US$ 25,000-35,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 130. EARHART, Amelia. 1897-1937. Archive of material on the purchase and outfitting of Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10e. US$ 15,000-20,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 85. BURTON, Virginia Lee. 1909-1968. The Little House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1942. US$ 15,000-20,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 68. CAMERON (Julia Margaret) Kate Keown [No. 5 Of Series of Twelve Lifesized Heads], [1866]. <br>£30,000-50,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 98. Karl Marx. Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, 1867.<br>£80,000-120,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 111. Isaac Newton Autograph manuscript, in English, headed "The Question stated about abstaining from blood". £50,000-70,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 112. Nobel Prize for discovering isotopes in stable elements, awarded to F.W. Aston in 1922. £200,000-400,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 140. Kay Nielsen (Prince Bismarck discovering the soldier), 1913. £15,000-20,000.
  • <b>American History: Live Salesroom Auction, June 10, 10:00 AM ET</b>
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 5. The Confederate Blockade Runner <i>CSS Colonel Lamb at Sea</i>, 1864, by Samuel Walters. Est $60000-$80000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 140. Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry, Exceptional Collection. Est Est $80000-$100000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 141. Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon Custer, ALS and Souvenir Relics from the Surrender at Appomattox Court House.<br>Est $20000-$30000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 116. Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth Presentation Sword and Archive. Lot of 52 items related to Elmer Ellsworth.<br>Est $100000-$200000.
    <b>American History: Live Salesroom Auction, June 10, 10:00 AM ET</b>
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 1. Paul Revere, War of 1812, Mechanics of the Town of Boston Signed Pledge. <br>Est $10000-$15000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 64. Rare Whole Plate Tintype of the Ill-Fated Civil War Steamer Sultana. <br>Est $5000-$7000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 346. James B. "Wild Bill" Hickok Tintype and Autograph Poem Signed.<br>Est $20000-$30000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 330. Remarkable California US Mail Steamship Co. Broadside, 1859. <br>Est $10000-$15000.
    <b>American History: Live Salesroom Auction, June 10, 10:00 AM ET</b>
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 161. Previously Unknown Daguerreotype of Future First Lady Julia Dent Grant and Sons Made for Captain Ulysses S. Grant. Est $10000-$15000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 229. <i>Titanic Disaster</i>, Ogden Family Travel Album Containing 30 Photographs Taken from the RMS Carpathia. <br>Est $5000-$7000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 230. RMS <i>Titanic</i>, Cork from Life Belt Salvaged by Passengers of the RMS <i>Carpathia</i>. Est $7000-$9000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 231. Bronze RMS Carpathia Medals Presented to Mr. & Mrs. Ogden, Plus ALS from Captain Arthur Rostron.<br>Est $4000-$6000.

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