Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2014 Issue

Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana from Sotheby's

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A few items from Sotheby's sale of Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana

Sotheby's Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana, comes to auction early this month on June 3rd. Living up to their reputation, Sotheby's has compiled a sale of superb work with a significant emphasis on autographed material. The items generally break down into categories of mainly signatures and imprints, with a sprinkling of books and maps, from America during the 18th through 20th century, material published by the Black Sun Press, autograph letters and works by significant people of the 19th and 20th centuries, with many authors, and finally printed works and autograph letters by 19th and 20th century artists. Let's take a look at some of the highlight lots in case you missed the catalogue or didn't have time to browse it.


Many Presidential and other famous American politicians’ autograph lots are available in the first third of the sale. Virtually every high profile name that held the highest political office in the country before World War II makes an appearance here, so if signed documents by Presidents are your fancy, this part of the sale is for you. In fact, other than Monroe, every renowned President has his autograph present (the ones omitted are Monroe, J.Q. Adams, William Harrison, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, and Garfield). With a lot of money, and I do mean a lot, one could conceivably begin a collection from scratch from this sale. If this were the case, I’d recommend looking at lot 46, a cache of 56 documents signed by George Washington while he was President and Director of the Potomac Company. Sure, he wasn’t President of the United States yet, but as one of, if not the most desired signature of American Presidents, 56 instances is a huge number. The lot is estimated for $250,000-350,000, so if you bought it for the low estimate, the average cost of one signature would be around $4,500, lower than many other individual signatures from Washington and other Presidents.


As mentioned previously, material from the Black Sun Press is prominently featured in the sale. If you’re not familiar, Black Sun was an English language press founded in Paris by American expatriates Harry and Caresse Crosby. It was initially started to publish the Crosbys’ own work, but after printing a limited edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and receiving a positive response, they expanded to include other authors. Black Sun Press is known today for having published the early works of many writers such as D. H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce before they became better known. Their reputation also stems from having only printed limited editions of handmade books printed on high quality paper. Included in this sale are twenty-five lots published by Black Sun (lots 51-75). Works by both Crosbys as well as Lawrence and Joyce are available among others.


Further on down the line, a more generalized collection of books, autograph letters and other material is for sale. Twenty-four autograph letters and fourteen inscribed editions of Albert Camus that belonged to his American lover Patricia Blake are listed under lot 80, estimated $100,000-200,000, as is James Chadwick’s 1935 Nobel Prize Medal for physics and a collection of related material (lot 81, est. $200,000-400,000). Autograph letters and typed letters signed from famous authors such as Samuel Clemens (lot 83, est. $8,000-12,000), Charles Dickens (lot 89, est. $2,000-3,000), Arthur Conan Doyle (lot 94, est. $2,000-3,000), F. Scott Fitzgerald (lot 101, est. $3,000-5,000), Ernest Hemingway (lots 108 and 109), James Joyce (lot 114, est. $10,000-15,000) and Oscar Wilde (lot 153, $2,000-3,000) are all here. Some of the high profile books being sold are a first edition of 1,000 copies printed of Joyce’s Ulysses (lot 115, est. $30,000-50,000), a first edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (lot 143, est. $10,000-15,000), and a first edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin: or, Life Among the Lowly (lot 144, est. $6,000-8,000).

The sale concludes with material from artists, with drawings, sketches and paintings interspersed with autograph letters, manuscripts and art books. While the amount of lots is small, just twenty-one, the dollar amount estimated for some of the items is hefty. Francis Bacon’s “Tryptich with bull against screen” original drawing and autograph manuscript at lot 160 is estimated $200,000-300,000, and the 161st of 250 copies of Marc Chagall’s Le Cirque at lot 163 for $150,000-200,000. Lots 171-174 offer material by Joan Miro, and the sale’s final lot (177) is an autographed and inscribed copy of Andy Warhol’s The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B & Back Again) estimated $1,500-2,500.


All in all the material offered in June’s Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana is just what the sale name says. With a variety of material on many subjects on offer, there are excellent opportunities for additions to collections around the world.


Bidding in person, on the phone, and online begins at 10am EDT on June 3rd, 2014. The catalogue is available online here on Sotheby’s website. If you would like to bid online, please register here.

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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