Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2014 Issue

Christie's New York: Americana and Botany Collectors Converge

0df4aa86-f772-44b3-81b0-a7f93796a7e8

Items from Christie's December 4th sale Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts including Americana

With a veritable cornucopia of rare and significant material, Christie’s New York will soon be offering collectors of rare books, manuscripts, maps, ephemera, and autographs a sale to be grateful for this holiday season. Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts including Americana is 267 lots to be sold one week after Thanksgiving, on December 4th, 2014, at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza location.

The sale opens with a section dedicated to Americana, and autograph and signed letters and documents are out in force. The Presidential likes of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, as well as more contemporary Heads of State, such as Eisenhower, Truman, and Kennedy, are all here. Interspersed among these men are other figures from history: Davy Crockett, Albert Einstein, and Nathanael Greene leave their literal marks, too.

While autographs absolutely outnumber any other type of Americana, other items deserve to be mentioned. Henry James Warre’s Sketches in North America and the Oregon Territory, a first edition from 1848, contains sixteen hand-colored and tinted lithographic plate views of the Pacific Northwest. Howes considered these works to be the only western color-plates comparable to the gold standard set by Swiss artist Karl Bodmer. Available as lot 75, this excellent copy is estimated $80,000 - $120,000. For map collectors, cartographers Robert Sayer and John Bennett present The Seat of War in New England, by an American Volunteer, with the Marches of Several other Corps Sent by the Colonies towards Boston, with the Attack on Bunker Hill. Printed in London only three months after the battle of Bunker’s Hill, the map contains a detailed depiction of the early phases of the Revolution. Equally at home in American map and Revolutionary collections, this important item is listed as lot 61 and estimated $20,000 - $30,000.

The rest of the sale is grouped under the general heading of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts but is also broken into some sub-categories. Lots 86 through 106 are Sets and Bindings, and the Works of many famous authors and historically significant people are contained within. Samuel Clemens (lot 88, est. $5,000 - $7,000), John Muir (lot 96, est. $2,000 - $3,000), Theodore Roosevelt (lot 98, est. $3,000 - $4,000), and Henry David Thoreau (lot 103, est. $5,000 - $7,000) are some that jump out. All are finely bound and make for impressive sets of important material.

In September 2014, the Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden entered into an affiliation which, when combined, made them the 13th largest public garden in the United States. As a result of this union, important botanical books formerly in the collection of the Cleveland Botanical Garden have come to auction. Lots 109 through 180 make up these items, and the large majority are illustrated. There are also additional botanical books offered from lots 181 to 199. Collectors of botanical material will already have this sale highlighted on their calendars.

Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts including Americana concludes with a final offering of rare books, manuscripts, maps, and autographs. Depending on your perspective, it may appear Christie’s saved the best for last. Many significant items are available, with subjects ranging widely. At lot 230, a first edition, limited issue of Joyce’s Ulysses is available and estimated $30,000 - $40,000. Two copies of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life are also here, one copy in better condition than the other. At lots 202 and 203, their estimates are $80,000 - $120,000 and $60,000 - $80,000, respectively.

I usually make a point in these AE auction previews of highlighting the item with the highest estimate, and in this case, it’s a tie between two items in the last part of the sale. They are quite different. Going in order of lot number, lot 227, Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Exercita Spiritualia, dated September 11, 1548, is regarded as an extremely important book in Christian history, and has been called “the most famous modern textbook on ascetic discipline, the nature of sin and Christian perfection by grace” (PMM). This first edition is extraordinarily rare, the last seen at auction being the Harmsworth copy in 1946, and that example was admittedly in tougher shape. Owning this item will not come cheaply—its estimate sits at $200,000 - $300,000. Sharing the same estimate is lot 251, which is the second folio edition of Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies… This particular edition is important because it is in the second folio that John Milton first appears in print. Additionally, this particular copy remains in a rare early binding.

As is standard for sales through Christie’s, bidding is available in-person at Rockefeller Plaza, over the phone, or through their website. Please register here if you plan on bidding online. The begins at 10AM ET on December 4, 2014.

As is standard for sales through Christie’s, bidding is available in-person at Rockefeller Plaza, over the phone, or through their website. Please register here if you plan on bidding online. The entire catalogue may be viewed online, and a PDF copy is also available for download. The sale begins at 10AM ET on December 4, 2014.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions