To be collectible is sometimes to be historical, sometimes to be part of the popular culture, and sometimes both. The upcoming Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale at Leslie Hindman on May 7th incorporates material from many genres across a great swath of printed history and does it in an appealing way. The sale is complex.
One can imagine that this material has been submitted by many consignors, most of them with vastly different interests. What unites them in this sale [for the first time] is the desire to turn the page on what was once personally important and is now no longer necessary to the daily conduct of collector’s lives. This sale is addressed to collectors in the throes and those new to the game, the former the experienced and the latter the neophytes, they all similarly afflicted, they who love and pursue the random pieces, be they books, signatures, manuscripts and coins on the various subjects they passionately pursue. This is a sale of intricate, mostly beneath the surface, material that completes deep collections and forms the foundation of new beginnings. It is a very appealing mix.
It begins with 37 lots of manuscript material, much of it with an emphasis on music and theatre. Next there are 70 lots relating to famous authors, most of whom are still familiar today, all of whom were famous in their own times. Here is a partial list of lots 47-117:
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Henry Irving and Bram Stoker
Then there are Audubon prints, 10 lots, numbers 118-127.
Maps begin with lot 136 and continue to 158. Then there are a few travel and exploration and topical political items. Those who missed out buying the first printings of some of Mao Zedong’s thoughts should be prepared to spend more renminbi than they once would have, actually a lot more.
Next there is a nice copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This copy is the extra-illustrated 2 volume 1827 edition. It’s lot 172.
My favorite is lot 176, The Tvvoo Bookes of Francis Bacon. It was printed in 1605 and is a very nice thing. If you don’t have one and feel the burning passion this may be your chance.
For those who collect auction catalogues lot 177 may appeal. It’s the four volumes of the sale of the Hamilton Palace Libraries that were sold at Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge in 1882. Buyer’s names and prices are bound in. The estimate is $200 to $400.
And here is another item for the bibliophile. It’s lot 180, a catalogue of the classic contents of Strawberry Hill and printed in 1842. Book collectors who are accused of being over the top can point to Strawberry Hill as the real ground zero of obsessive, actually very obsessive, collecting. All Strawberry Hill material is desirable. Estimated $200 to $400.
Charles Dickens was once the world’s most popular author. Not so much anymore but still, for the collector, very appealing. Lots 186 to 208 will offer you many choices.
Children’s books are not always child’s play. The first American publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1866 is estimated at $2,000 to $4,000. It’s lot 209.
Most material in the sale is relatively inexpensive. Colin Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus; or, The British Architect, Containing the Plans, Elevations, and Sections of the Regular Buildings, both Publick and Private, in Great Britain, is a good value but not inexpensive. Its estimate is $20,000 to $30,000 and docketed as lot 215.
Lots 215 to 240 are about architecture, art and design. Lot 221 is a 4 vol. set of Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s House and Collection. He was once the wealthiest man in America in the era before income taxes. He had plenty of money to buy culture [and did]. Some of this is evident in this 4 vol. set.
For those who read Moby Dick in high school and have been looking for a first edition here it is: lot 304, estimated $8,000 to $12,000. And for those looking for a first of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in this sale, it’s lot 311 and estimated $1,000 to $2,000.
Then there are 10 lots of collectible children’s material [lots 314-323].
Toward the end of the sale are some interesting group lots. Lot 361 is 16 early American imprints dated 1786 to 1838. The estimate is $200 to $400.
The next lot no. 363 is a group of 17 nineteenth-century American educational primers. The estimate is $100 to $200.
There are also 4 lots, 368 to 371, relating to Lincoln. One is a life mask. It’s disconcerting and not what you might expect.
The final section, for those who have not spent their last dollar, are 21 lots of gold coins. They look very nice and would be great at a restaurant. “Can I pay you in gold?” You bet!
Here is a link to the sale catalogue. It’s fun to read. The event is on the 7th.