Ted Ripley-Duggan, Vice-President of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Doyle New York, has a habit of preparing auction summaries for Rare Book Monthly that are more thorough than our normal auction previews. He did it back in April, and he’s done it again for Doyle’s semi-annual sale of Rare Books, Autographs and Photographs, which is scheduled for November 22, 2016 at 10 am eastern time. The full catalog is viewable on Doyle’s website. With just over 600 lots, I’ve decided it’s best to allow him to provide the full rundown of what the sale has to offer collectors of Americana, autographs, natural history, literature, and more. The following auction preview is courtesy of Ted Ripley-Duggan:
The catalogue begins with 78 lots of deaccessions from the Library of the Explorers Club. These include a very rare guide to the Holy Land by Ludolphus de Suchen, the Iter ad Terram Sanctam, issued in Strasbourg about 1475-80. This book, intended for pilgrims, is one of the first travel guides. Other works include Blagdon’s A Brief History of Ancient and Modern India bound as usual with the companion work by Hunter (a classic of the color plate literature on India). There is also a set of Staunton’s Authentic Account of an Embassy…to the Emperor of China, including the fine pictorial atlas, and a variety of other works, including many of substantial rarity. While the books bear the bookplate of the Club, and some its blind-stamp, it is hard to imagine a more appropriate association; one of those few cases where a library marking is not a significant detriment.
Americana, a longtime strength of Doyle’s auctions, includes a late letter by John Wilkes Booth. Written on 14 November 1864, this (in veiled and secretive terms) speaks of Booth’s desire to have a bag returned to him, from context well-nigh certainly containing a gun, probably his cherished derringer. The following year, on April 15 he assassinated Abraham Lincoln, quite conceivably with this firearm. Booth letters written so close to that terrible event are, to say the least, infrequently offered for sale.
This is followed shortly thereafter by a copy the first edition of Adam Smith’s 1776 An Inquiry…Into the Wealth of Nations, the first edition, a copy belonging to a member of the Boswell family (sadly, not James). The next item in the sale is a manuscript that preserves the official returns from the British Colonies in the Americas, Lord Dartmouth’s copy, compiled on the eve of the Revolution. It contains a cornucopia of information on the material wealth of the Colonies and its sources, a focus that speaks to myopia to the mounting tensions in America on the part of British officials. The next lot pertains to the Revolution itself, and the Declaration of Independence, as represented by the very rare newspaper printing of July 10, 1776 in The Pennsylvania Journal; and the Weekly Advertiser from the great patriot printer, William Bradford. All early newspaper printings of the Declaration are desirable, and only eight copies are known of this, generally considered the sixth appearance in an American newspaper.
The Americana section contains the first four editions of the Book of Mormon, and a wealth of manuscript material, that includes the diary of Edward Cutbush, the first surgeon of the United States Navy, along with a fine selection of autograph material, mostly of North American interest (from a private collection) which includes a nearly complete run of American Presidential letters and documents, as well as a fine Lafayette letter to McHenry. From another source comes a group of ninety letters by Franklin Pierce to his secretary, Sidney Webster.
Keeping to an American theme, but turning to South America and the liberation movement that led to the overthrow of centuries of Spanish rule, the catalogue moves on to a trove of both manuscript and printed material pertaining to Simón Bolívar and his generals. Much of this was first sold in the 1980s and ‘90s at auction and has been privately held since, and indeed little of this importance has surfaced subsequently. In the space of about forty lots the focus moves from Queen Isabella I of Spain, through some fugitive printings from Venezuela, on to some remarkable letters and documents signed by Bolívar, José Antonio Páez, Antonio José de Sucre and almost all the major figures responsible for casting off the yoke of Spanish rule.
Autographs end with a short but interesting section of music, with three Franz Liszt autograph pieces, a very rare engraving of the young Mozart and his family, a number of signed musical quotations by great composers, as well as an Ed Sullivan Show cue sheet from the 12 September 1965 broadcast, signed by all members of the Beatles.
Color-plate books include a a set uniformly bound in what are most likely the publisher’s binding of the second octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds and Quadrupeds, and a complete set of the first edition of Wilson’s Ornithology together with Bonaparte’s four-volume extension of that work. In the same section is a good set of the Microcosm of London with early watermarks, and several Rowlandson watercolors including an unpublished one (exhibited in the 1986 Huntington Library show) of Death and the Highwayman intended for the English Dance of Death.
This is followed by a lengthy selection of fine bindings ranging from a very beautiful Scottish “herringbone” binding on the folio Baskett Bible of 1753-4 to a magnificent private collection including some very decorative bindings purchased in the 1988 Doheny sale and others of that period, including examples of the Doves Press, Rivière, Bayntun, Zaehnsdorf and all the usual suspects. This section includes a substantial number of very well-bound editions of major authors such as Balzac, Conrad, Eliot, Prescott, Wilde etc.
Next comes a group of early printing including a collection of fragments from early legal manuscripts, of fragments of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, several incunabula including the very beautiful Koberger Antoninus Florentinus of 1484, the major initials illuminated in the characteristic Nuremberg manner, and a fine collection of early and important editions of Cervantes.
The final two sections of the book sale are Literature, with some interesting offerings including an especially choice Arthur Conan Doyle letter and a first edition in unsophisticated condition of Melville’s Moby-Dick, and a decent section of artist books, private press and similar material, including the Andy Warhol 25 Cats Name[d] Sam and One Blue Pussy.
The book sale is followed by Photography, including some choice photobooks (including signed copies of Robert Frank’s The Americans and The Lines of my Hand, a collection of Ed Ruscha, a very uncommon Wegman artist book the Field Guide to North America and to other Regions containing 34 unique pieces including collages, photographs, drawings, manuscripts etc.
Early photography includes a number of Atgets, three extremely fine large format Curtis prints (two of which are orotypes in the original Curtis frames), and a strong selection of twentieth century work including a number of important portfolios by Caponigro, Porter, Tice etc., as well as images by Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott, Peter Beard, Bill Brandt, Margaret Bourke-White, Harry Callahan, George Hoynigen-Huene, George Hurrell, O. Winston Link, Robert Rauschenberg, Eugene Smith, Arthur Tress and Edward Weston (among others).