Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2004 Issue

Skinner American Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction

Snov1

Every salad needs some dressing.


By Bruce McKinney

Skinner's, the Boston auction house, recently issued a catalogue for their upcoming sale of antiques and decorative arts. It will be held on November 7th. Their catalogues are always worth a careful examination even if your collecting interests are at the margin of the catalogue's focus. They combine the appeal of attractive four-color magazines with the potential for finding something to bid on. They are well done and this most recent catalogue is no exception.

Book people will be wondering where the books are in this catalogue and I'll admit I didn't see any in the textual descriptions. Undaunted I looked further. Lot 1 looks interesting. This is an Auburn Boattail Speedster Style Convertible, a "custom fabricated reproduction" or as we say in the book trade, a reprint. If I'm going to drive down backroads looking for booksellers who haven't yet discovered the internet and want $10 for all their damn books I think I want to be driving this car. It's estimated at $25,000 to $35,000. For those who insist on buying a book I'll bet that an operator's manual is included.

No. 111 is a painting and easy to include. It's an unsigned portrait of Ebenezer French [1787-1850]. To those who don't know him Ebenezer was born in Boston and originally worked for the Boston Patriot newspaper. Later he founded, with Isaac Monroe, the Baltimore Patriot which was the first newspaper to publish The Star Spangled Banner. He was active in the defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812 and later a minor official under John Quincy Adams in the State Department. This 26" x 24" piece of American history is estimated at $2,000 to $2,500.

Lot 113 is an unsigned watercolor, guache, pen and ink work of Commodore Preble's attack and bombardment of the harbor at Tripoli in 1804. It is only fractionally larger than 9" x 13" framed but quite eye catching. Those who collect the Barbary States with a subtle American twist will find this appealing. $1,000 - $1,500

For book lovers there is lot 167, the portrait of Webster Tucker c. 1844 holding two books. It's a large painting, 45" by 32". It is also an expensive painting estimated at $100,000 to $150,000 so if you buy it you probably won't be buying much else for a while.

Lot 305 is the unsigned Portrait of Fire Engine Pumper Excelsior Eagle 3. This is a beauty and looks like it should be on the wall behind one of those bars that charge $10 for a martini. It is a large painting, 44" x 77", so measure your den walls carefully before committing yourself to the fray. The estimate is $5,500 to $6,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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