Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2015 Issue

Profiles in History: An Important Sale of Autograph Material and Other Items

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Inherently unique and collectible, autograph letters and documents represent a special segment of the rare books, maps, manuscripts, and ephemera world. One auction house has built their business around such material, and this month, on June 11th, Profiles in History brings another sale of valuable material to auction.  The Los Angeles county-based house’s Historical Auction 75 contains 200 lots of autographs and assorted objects and items, with a large number of famous Americans and other historical figures present in the sale.

For collectors of American Presidents, the autographs of the first three are for sale, as well as many others including Lincoln, FDR, and JFK. The XYZ Affair that nearly brought war between the United States and France is represented particularly well with letters from both John Adams and George Washington discussing the matter (lots 1 and 147).

Continuing with American History, two items related to the Star Spangled Banner are quite interesting. I myself did not know that the national anthem is not an original tune—that its words are actually set to the music of another, John Stafford Smith’s “The Anacreontic Song,” was a surprise to me. In this sale however, both the original printing for “The Anacreontic Song” (lot 136, est. $15,000 – 25,000) and an early (third printing) of “The Star Spangled Banner” are available (lot 137, est. $40,000 – 60,000).

Other highlights of the sale include:

  • Eighteen lots of Einstein autographs
  • A plethora of material from the Civil War, including signatures from all of the senior Confederate leadership and generals: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
  • A small, but strong showing of contemporary sports material including Michael Jordan’s first six basketball cards all graded Gem Mint 10 including his rookie card (lot 195, est. $20,000 – 30,000) and a signed photograph of Babe Ruth (lot 200, est. $4,000 – 6,000). 

Like Profiles in History’s past Historical Auctions, the binding theme of the material is an emphasis on rare autographs from well-known figures, as well as other rare memorabilia and objects. Their sales are not organized thematically, so if you are a collector of autograph material, their catalogues are worth perusing since you never know what you may find.

The auction will take place on-site in Calabasas, CA on June 11th at 11 a.m. Registration is available on Profiles in History's website here. Online bidding is handled by Invaluable and the entire catalogue is viewable on their website.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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