Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2006 Issue

Swann Americana Sale February 2nd

Chicagofire

An interesting Americana sale: lot 114


By Bruce McKinney

On February 2nd Swann Galleries conducts what is essentially a semi-annual auction of Americana. As was the case last year, the material is an interesting assortment of obscurity, rarity and condition that requires the auction bidder to read carefully. There are 310 lots. Only 73 of them have estimates that reach four figures. Sixty-six others have high estimates of $250 or less and Swann advertises their auctions on eBay where realizations of more than $250 are uncommon but where many of the new generation of collectors are learning to collect. This sale is of course much more than entry level lots. As the following 10 lots illustrate there is a complex assortment for almost every category of printed material for the Americana collector. These sales typically achieve a 90% sell through, a sure indication that estimates are set toward the low side.

Lot 8 is William Bartram's Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. This is the first English edition [1792] and not generally the edition collectors covet. However, this copy is in boards and that makes this copy unusual and attractive.

In the AED there are 25 records. They suggest the book has been widely reported and collected for more than a hundred years. This copy, uncut and in original boards is estimated $3,000 to $4,000 and seems interesting.
AE Footnote 1

Lot 11 is a 1782 Aitken Bible, an important book for collectors of American bibles. It is the first printing of this book in English in America. It lacks the title page, a very significant defect. There are other condition issues as well which require careful evaluation. The market for this book has been strong. In the AED there are seven records. They suggest a higher valuation but this copy lacks the title page and will be anathema to some collectors and dealers. Nevertheless it's interesting. It is estimated $8,000 to $12,000.
AE Footnote 2

Lot 28 is interesting. It's a color lithographed poster of Palo Alto and the Leland Stanford Junior University. It was issued by N. C. Carnell & Co. in 1888. On the East Coast 1888 passes for new while in California it is old. This lithographed poster, with 7 insets including views of the Quadrangle and maps is approximately 42x28 inches. It looks to be very collectible, a view that Swann shares as they have given it the entire back page of the catalogue, a meaningful endorsement. It is estimated $3,000 to $4,000.

Rare Book Monthly

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