Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2015 Issue

Sotheby’s Fine Books and Manuscripts on 19 June in New York

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Most, if not all, auction houses have general and subject sales.  A subject sale has one or more focus; general sales include material across a spectrum of categories and subjects.  Subject sales excite more interest but occasionally general sales shift into a higher gear to focus on high points.  In the upcoming Sotheby’s sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts we have a general sale with many of the highest points in the printed works pantheon.

 

Here is how Sotheby’s briefly describes the sale:

 

Our 19 June sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana will feature incunabula from the Jewish Theological Seminary, including a complete Book of Esther from the Gutenberg Bible, 1455. Americana includes a very fine contemporary broadside of the Declaration of Independence, a rare first book printing of the Declaration and a very desirable copy of Williams’s Bloudy Tenent, 1644, the first copy to appear on the market since 1984. Other highlights are Edwin Booth’s copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio, 1632, and a collection of 5 original gouaches by Bemelmans for his Madeleine series.

 

As sales go it’s a small sale.  Merely 151 lots but the numbers quickly explode.  Twelve lots have high estimates of at least $100,000 that together total $4,910,000.  The first lot is 8 leaves comprising the entire Book of Esther from the Gutenberg Bible with a high estimate of $700,000.  Other religious lots dominate the first part of the sale.  At lot 40 we have the opportunity to invest in a first edition of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.  It’s a good book, actually 3 volumes, with a high estimate of $120,000.

 

In this kind of company it’s impossible to leave Shakespeare out.  Unfortunately his entry is an association copy of a great book forever connected indirectly to the type of character the man himself might have described as “O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain.”  This is lot 85, Edwin Booth’s copy of a 1632 Second Folio.  His brother was John Wilkes Booth.

 

Number 99 is a sammelband relating to the American Revolution including the first book printing of the Declaration of Independence.  The high estimate is $500,000.

 

For they who have not yet spent their money lot 100 will test your means and your desires.  It is the king, queen and prince of the sale, a very early printing of the Declaration of Independence for Massachusetts.  The high estimate is $2,000,000.

 

One cannot have a serious sale and fail to include Benjamin Franklin.  His entry, lot 105, is a letter he wrote in 1787 to a dear friend – detailing the thus and sundries of revolutionary and everyday life.  The high estimate is $120,000.

 

Of course, where Franklin goes, Jefferson is sure to follow.  Lot 117 is estimated to a high of $120,000.  It’s his signed personal copy of the 1791 first edition of the United States Census.

 

Washington weighs in with lots 144 and 145, both of which breach the $100,000 level.  Washington’s hand is child-like but his written documents bring significant money.

 

The last of the lots estimated to reach $100,000 is Roger Williams’ The Bloudy Tenent, lot 150 and printed in Cambridge in 1644.  This is very early, one of the first books printed in British America.  

 

There is of course much more.  Greta Garbo is the subject of lot 48, lot 77 Louis Pasteur on the subject of rabies and lot 124 a signed carte-de-visite photograph of Lincoln.  But these lots and more than 130 others are left flailing in the shallow water, they all solid, noteworthy and serious but not quite reaching the six figure level.  You can of course change this.  There are many serious candidates.

 

Here is a link to the sale.

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.

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