I spoke recently with Ted Ripley-Duggan, Vice-President of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Doyle New York, and he offered to prepare a basic text about their upcoming auction and quickly did so. And it’s a masterful thorough piece that I cannot improve on in any way. So it is running as an article in RBM and I will briefly focus on another aspect of the buying/selling process: what to want and what to expect when you consign or buy. Simply stated you want thoroughness. Collectable paper is a balance of history, size, condition and sometimes importance. To attract an audience you have to select material that has a story and a meaning you can explain. Then you have to have the courage to estimate the material modestly.
I bought material at Doyle New York last year and am well pleased. The lots are New York, first colonial and later state, records of the 1770 to 1800 period. Today they are sitting nearby my desk and have a future as a RBM writing project. They contain details of the shift from British colonies to American states, that most people know as a national process. These records tell a local, county-by-county, story and are impossibly rare.
So I’m prejudiced. The combination of interesting material and vigorous description encourages me to follow their auctions closely. And I encourage you to do the same.
Here now are details of their next sale in the category.
Now, for Mr. Ripley-Duggan’s description of their sale on April 13th.
On April 13, Doyle holds its semi-annual auction of books and photography. The sale begins with 35 lots of Americana. Included is a good example of a Lincoln appointment, a copy of The Virginia House-Wife, 1824, the first Southern cookbook, and (most notably) a set of the six Neptune Bigot Assault Maps, in effect the blueprints for the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach, at the time documents of the utmost secrecy. They show the extent of the German defenses and give a sense of how heroic the undertaking was, with an incredible density of German fortifications, gun emplacements and all kinds of lethal impediments that created an apparently impenetrable wall. The maps are accompanied by a large composite map not formally issued by the War Office, but prepared by someone, presumably an officer, who was making the perilous landing. It shows the various landing zones on the beachhead, the “exit ramps”, “transit areas” etc., all marked in crayon.
The final lot of Americana is an attractive copy of Het Groot Tafereel der Dwaasheid… [The Great Mirror of Folly}, the classic account (constructed of collected broadsides) of the downfall of John Law and his Mississippi Company, whose activities created one of the earliest “bubble economies.” This section is followed by an appealing selection of maps (including many of the Americas) and atlases, the highlight of which is John Rocque A New and Accurate Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1748, the Mentmore/Earl of Rosebery copy with bookplate. Autographs include a charming portrait of Greta Garbo by Jean Negulesco and an inscribed photograph of Thomas Alva Edison.
The Collection of Dr. Robert Reiber is featured over lots 86-202. This interesting collection features books on the history of ideas, psychology, anthropology, early works on teaching the deaf-dumb to speak, etc. Highlights include a copy of Freud Zur Auffassung der Aphasie, 1891, the great psychologist’s first original work; an inscribed copy of William James The Principles of Psychology, the rare first issue; John Stuart Mill On Liberty, a defining work on the workings of democracy; and George Sibscota The Deaf and Dumb Man’s Discourse…, 1670. This gives just a brief taste of this intriguing collection, put together by the collector over many years.
A selection of books on Space, Astronomy and Science includes two fine association copies. The Herschel Family copy of Caroline Herschel Catalogue of Stars…, 1798, bears a presentation from Caroline Herschel to the great astronomer J.F.W. Herschel; and a copy of the sixth edition of Charles Darwin The Origin of Species bearing a presentation inscription in Darwin’s own hand. All known presentation copies of the first edition of the Origin… (and many of the later editions) bear inscriptions in the hand of the Murray's clerk, not Darwin’s hand. Also in this section is an extremely early astrophotograph made at the Lick Observatory by the great American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard, with his notations as to exposure, etc. Rounding things out are two fine views of the lunar surface from NASA’s Lunar Surveyor, the first detailed views of the surface of the moon, made in preparation for the first manned landings.
Early Printing offers a copy of the great Manuale Tipografico of Bodoni, published in 1818 by his widow, arguably the most beautiful and influential type specimen ever published. The same section contains a first edition of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony [Siebente Grosse Sinfonie in A], the first issue published in 1816. Color plate books include a run of Ackermann’s great Repository of Arts… , 1809-1828, a complete run though (as usual) lacking some patterns, etc. Fine Bindings list a copy of the Memorial Edition of The Writings of Mark Twain, with a leaf of manuscript, and Literature includes a sensational letter by Jack Kerouac, in effect a potted biography, with his claim to be the founder of the Beats, his distaste for the subsequent San Francisco scene, and a mention of On the Road. Written to a student in response to a scholarly inquiry, this letter has almost everything that one might want in a Kerouac letter. Concluding the book section are a group of Russian books, and Private Press and Illustrated works, with a large collection of George Grosz correspondence (much of it bearing his amusing illustrations) a presentation of the artist’s Ecce Homo to his American dealers, as well as works with illustrations by Rauschenberg, Dali, etc.
The sale concludes with a fine group pf Photography and Photobooks, the latter including a copy of Eluard and Man Ray’s Facile and Photographs by Man Ray (the latter is an inscribed copy). Photographs includes a fine run of Ansel Adams images, including many of his major works in large format; a rare pair of Diane Arbus images of the Matthaei family; a Peter Beard Spoor no Moor prepared in Nairobi for The end of the game; a selection of Wilson Bentley’s snowflake, dew and cloud images, two good photographs by Brassaï; a run of Lucien Clergue nudes; a Kertesz Chez Mondrian; two wonderful astronomical photographs by David Malin; the Rodchenko Portfolio number 2: Portraits; Hiroshi Sugimoto’s wonderful portfolio Time Exposed, published 1991 with 51 superb mounted offset lithographs; and a remarkable selection of platinum prints by Doris Ulmann.