Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2012 Issue

If you like dessert ... an auction

Bunker hill account

Lot 10. Autograph letter dated 8 July 1775 providing an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill

The world of book, manuscript, map and ephemera auctions has long been dominated by the major cities in the United States and Europe.  It’s been this way so long it feels natural, even inevitable.  Over the past decade though there has been a broad proliferation of houses that, while continuing to be near major cities, are filling the interstices and increasingly demonstrating strength.  The trend is broad and deep.  In looking at the December auction schedule I’m struck by the solid strength of the offers across the entire field.  True, this month we don’t/won’t have the majestic high fliers that Sotheby’s has sold with exceptional success the past few years but we will experience strength across the spectrum and this means great material appearing consistently within the more than 80 auctions scheduled.

It is difficult, even unfair to rank these sales, because if the material that consumes you is in a particular sale, that sale for you is the important sale.  For myself important material is up for bid in four different sales, this in itself a first as I’m often lucky to find a single item that fits my criteria.

This suggests a certain realignment of the stars, an increase in the number of houses selling exceptional material and an increasingly apparent trend toward lower estimates that encourage the wider bidding that moves outcomes well beyond the lot reserves that can not legally be higher than the low estimate.  It’s a healthy trend.

This said, perhaps the most interesting sale in December is The Property of a Distinguished American Private Collector at Profiles in History in Calabasas in southern California.  The collector-consignor is probably Victor Niederhoffer based on material he is known to own that is being offered.  The descriptive term distinguished is a low barrier term used more widely in the field than is appropriate.   For this sale it absolutely applies.
    

The index of lots reads like a who’s who and what’s what of both American and world history.  Beyond the connections there is also the reality that many of the items are very important.  This is not a tour of thinly connected association copies.  There is real collector intelligence on display here.

To this I’ll add that the estimates are generally low and the low estimate the minimum price at which the lot will change hands.  Therefore a high percentage of the lots will sell.

This said, the conventional wisdom is that when selling in December, it’s best to sell in early December before institutional and collector money has been spent.  This sale will test that theory, as it is one of the last sales of the year.  It’s on the 18th. If at that point in the month you have any money left and the fiscal cliff has not opened into the fiscal chasm you should give the catalogue, online or on paper, a careful look.

The total of the low estimates that are also the starting bids is $4.536 million, the total of the high estimates $6,922,000.  If the sale gets traction it could be the largest-by-dollars sale of the month, even the year.

To appreciate this sale you have to browse the catalogue.  Links below will bring it up.   Here is a list of subjects from the catalogue index of all 297 lots:

[Battle of Bunker Hill] Martin Gay

[Battle of Little Big Horn] Josiah Chance

[Inquisition of Mexico and Florida]

[South Sea Company]

[Titanic, R.M.S.]

[U. S. S. Constitution]

Adams, John

Adams, John Quincy

Adams, Samuel

Alcott, Louisa May

American All-Stars

Andersen, Hans Christian

Anderson, Robert

Armstrong, Louis

Armstrong, Neil A.

Audubon, John James

Baum, L. Frank

Beethoven, Ludwig von

Bell, Alexander Graham

Berlioz, Hector

Blake, Eubie

Boswell, James

Boyle, Robert

Bradbury, Ray

Brahms, Johannes

Brown, John

Calder, Alexander

Catherine II (Catherine the Great)

Catherine de’ Medici

Catlin, George

Chandler, Raymond

Churchill, Winston

Clemens, Samuel L. (“Mark Twain”)

Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici)

Clinton, George

Cobb, Tyrus Raymond “Ty”

Cody, William F. (“Buffalo Bill”)

Colt, Samuel

Conrad, Joseph

Cooper, J. Fennimore

Cornwallis, Charles

Coryate, Thomas

Curie, Marie

Curie, Pierre

Darrow, Clarence

Darwin, Charles

David, Jacques Louis

Davis, Jefferson

DeForest, Lee

DiMaggio, Joseph

Disney, Walt

Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge (“Lewis Carroll”)

Donizetti, Gaetano

Dvorak, Anton

Edison, Thomas

Einstein, Albert

Eisenhower, Dwight D

Ellery, William

Emmerson, Ralph Waldo

Ferdinand V, King of Spain

Fermi, Enrico

Fillmore, Millard

Fischer, Bobby

Fitzgerald, F. Scott

Flaubert, Gustave

Flynn, Errol

Ford, Gerald R.

Forrest, Nathan Bedford

Francis I, King of France

Franklin, Benjamin

Freud, Sigmund

Galilei, Galileo

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand

Gauguin, Paul

Gehrig, Lou

George III, King of England

Gerry, Elbridge

Gershwin, George

Grant, Ulysses S.

Greene, Nathanael

Hammerstein, Oscar, II

Hancock, John

Hemingway, Ernest

Henry II, King of France

Henry VII, King of England

Henry, Patrick

Herschel, John Frederick William

Hesse, Hermann

Hilton, James

Holiday, Billie (Eleanora Fagan)

Houdini, Harry

Houston, Samuel

Hugo, Victor

Hume, David

Jackson, Thomas J. (“Stonewall”)

James, Frank

Jay, John

Jefferson, Thomas

Jung, Carl. G

Kennedy, Edward M.

Kennedy, Jacqueline

Kern, Jerome David & Hammerstein, Oscar, II.

Key, Francis Scott

King, Martin Luther

Lawrence, Thomas Edward

Lee, Richard Henry

Lee, Robert E.

Lehar, Franz

Lennon, John

Lincoln, Abraham

Lincoln, Mary

Lindbergh, Anne Spencer Morrow

Linnaeus, Carolus

Liszt, Franz

Livingstone, David

Locke, John

London, Jack

Longfellow, Henry W. 

Louis XVI, King of France

Lowe, Sir Hudson

MacArthur, Douglas

Madison, James

Malcolm X [Little, Malcolm]

Marx, Karl (Heinrich)

Mata-Hari

Mazarin, Jules

Medieval Tally Sticks

Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix

Millet, Jean Francois

Mitchell, Margaret

Monet, Claude

Monroe, James

Monroe, Marilyn

More, Thomas

Morland, Samuel

Morris, Robert

Morse, Samuel Finley Breese

Napoleon I

Napoleon I and Empress Josephine

Nelson, Horatio

Newton, Sir Isaac

Nobel, Alfred

Nobel Prize Collection

Paine, Thomas

Parrish, Maxfield

Pasteur, Louis

Patton, George S.

Peter I (Peter the Great)

Pickering, Timothy

Pissarro, Camille

Poe, Edgar Allen

Porter, Cole

Puccini, Giacomo

Rand, Ayn

Reagan, Ronald

Revere, Paul

Rochambeau, Comte de.

Rodney, Caesar

Rommel, Erwin

Roosevelt, Franklin D.

Roosevelt, Theodore

Rousseau, Jean Jacques

Rush, Benjamin

Ruth, George Herman “Babe”

Sade, Donatien Alphonse Francois, Marquis de.

Santa Anna, Antonio Lopez de.

Schumann, Robert

Seward, William Henry

Shakespeare, William

Smith, Adam

Stanley, Henry M.

Stevenson, Robert Louis

Stowe, Harriet Beecher

Stroud, Robert (“Birdman of Alcatraz”)

Szilard, Leo

Taylor, Zachary

Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich

Thackeray, William Makepeace

Thoreau, Henry

Thornton, William

Tolkien, J.R.R.

Tyler, John

Valentino, Rudolph

Van Gogh, Vincent

Verdi, Giuseppe

Villa, Francisco (“Pancho”)

Voltaire, Francois Marie Arouet

Wagner, Richard

Warren, James

Washington, George

Weill, Kurt

Wesley, John

Whitman, Walt

Whitney, Eli.

Wright, Frank Lloyd

Wright, Wilbur

To search this sale and all others upcoming and now posted on AE select Upcoming Auctions at the top of any AE page and search your terms.  Lots  are updated daily.

Here is a link to Profiles in History:

 http://www.profilesinhistory.com/auctions/extraordinary-document-auction/

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, <i>El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha . . . Nueva Edición,</i> first Ibarra edition, Madrid, 1780. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Prayer Book in Latin and French, France, 1530-40s. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin, France, mid-15th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b><br><i>Die Ernsthaffte Christenpflicht,</i> earliest known edition of the first complete Mennonite prayer book, 1708. $300 to $500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Georg Agricola, <i>De ortu & causis subterraneorum Lib V.,</i> first edition, Basel, 1546. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Frederick Ruysch, <i>Icon durae matris in concava [convexa] superficie visae,</i> with 2 mezzotints by Jan Ladmiral, first edition, Amsterdam, 1737. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, <i>Eine Neue Art von Strahlen,</i> Würzburg, 1895. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pietro Carrera, <i>Il Gioco de gli Scacchi,</i> first edition, Militello, 1617. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> William Lithgow, <i>The Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures</i> [etc.], London, 1632. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Michel de Nostradamus, <i>The True Prophecies or Prognostications,</i> first complete edition in English, London, 1672. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pseudo-Methodius, <i>De revelatione facta . . . beato Methodio,</i> Basel, 1504. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Hrabanus Maurus, <i>De laudibus sancte crucis opus,</i> Pforzheim, 1503. $1,000 to $2,000.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000

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