Complex Intrigue in the Rooms at Doyle New York on November 23rd
- by Bruce E. McKinney
Into the late fall book men and women of all persuasions, the amateurs and professionals, readers and librarians cast off their summer crusts in search of the stimulating and collectible works on paper that rise through the fall from their summer doldrums toward the airy peaks achieved with spark and sizzle in November and December. Into this seasonal crescendo they of stout mind and strong heart feel the primal urge to scan the auction catalogues for battles they may engage for prizes that begin as penciled circles on catalogue pages and then bound to life as marked items are considered, rejected or affirmed. Those lots falling onto the must lists will then be more thoroughly examined and bids ultimately weighed. What began as a hopeful uncertainty come the day of the auction become battles to be won.
This is true for all houses and particularly true in the closing months of the year.
This year the November sale at Doyle New York fits this description very well for the material is serious, often obscure and frequently underestimated. Do not tread lightly here. The descriptions are interesting and the estimates appealing. You’ll be ensnared.
I asked Edward Ripley-Duggan and Peter Costanzo, the maestros and pens behind this sale and its descriptions for their take, and learned that fascination, value, and excitement are waiting to leap from every page. And I think they are right.
The sale is 794 lots of books, manuscripts and photographs divided into sections and categories.
It begins with a bow to the two sales Doyle has conducted for the New York Bar Association. That material, much of it esoteric European and American law, was often important, early and obscure. This latest sale, on November 23rd, starts with what has been most recently released by the Bar Association to sell. Condition is often a problem, but the lots [1-110] are worthy of consideration and include volumes from the libraries of Alexander Hamilton and Noah Webster, among others.
The focus then shifts to fine bindings. Dream a dream and expect to find at least one example of what you would like to own. The material is varied and highly collectible, ranging from 18th century silver bindings to Cedric Chivers Art Nouveau extravaganzas.
Lots 143 to 189 are French royal and armorial bindings from a private collection, including bindings for the kings and queens of France, and their children and courtiers, all the way from Louis XIII to Charles X. Further along in the sale is a run of seven documents signed by Napoleon. If French royalty is not to your taste, English royalty is present, including a set of eight etchings from the fair hand of Queen Victoria herself. And though America has no royalty, who can resist the lure of the Court of Camelot? Here are early love-letters from JFK to a Swedish sweetheart. You have been warned.
Lots 190 to 252 are the sciences, solid and a bit under the radar. Einstein is well represented, including a striking portrait done by Irving Sussman in 1934, signed by the great physicist the same year. Otherwise, there are works on alchemy, economics, clocks, globes and mathematics, to name but a few. As a coda, there is a section of the great modern facsimiles of Leonardo.
Beginning at lot 253 printed and manuscript Americana, separate from the New York Bar material, begins. Many of the usual subjects are offered here in unusual examples. Think of Audubon, John Wilkes Booth, indian captivities, Carnegie, Catlin and Chastellux with dashes of early American’s children’s books, the Civil War, Meriwether Lewis, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln. And they are simply the beginning. Page 88 of the catalogue is telling. It contains Lots 305 and 6, early books on the Quaker Persecutions, followed by an ephemera signed by Ronald Reagan and then a signed Theodore Roosevelt Message to the Two Houses of Congress .
Signatures and signed material carve out a place here and the keyword search will be important. If it’s the Beatles you want they are lots 480 and 481. Other 20th century personages are too numerous to mention but think Disney, Crawford, Dietrich, Monroe [Marilyn], Orson Welles and Sondheim. Fashion gets it own area including an important lot of Jacqueline Kennedy interest.
Here now are a few lots:
84. Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the Provisional Government of the State of Kentucky, together with the message of the Governor. Bowling Green: W. N. Haldeman, State Printer, 1861. The first Confederate imprint in Kentucky, printed during the brief tenure of the rebels in the State.
111. Manuscript Book of Hours, Southern Low Countries, likely Liège, second or third quarter of the 15th century. with 124 vellum leaves with text in Latin including with 10 large miniatures within two-page borders of acanthus and leafy vines.
121. Benvenuto Cellini. The Life of... London:1900. One of ten copies printed on true vellum, bound in two volumes in russet brown morocco by Zaehnsdorf, with intricately decorated, inlaid borders on each cover in navy blue.
173. Hardion, Jacques. Histoire universelle sacrée et profane, composée par ordre de Mesdames de France. Paris: 1754-65. Eighteen volumes, full red period morocco, the covers with the gilt arms of Marie Leszczynska, Queen Consort of France, spine in six compartments, richly gilt.
200. Portrait of Einstein in grisaille rendered in airbrush on illustration board by Irving Sussman, signed and dated 1934, additionally boldly signed "Albert Einstein," and dated by him 1934.
234. Large lithograph of the Grumman-designed Apollo Lunar Module. Bethpage, New York and Washington, D.C.: 1972. This bears a total of 325 signatures including 43 Apollo astronauts, as well as NASA and Grumman officials.
287. Merwiwether Lewis. Document signed as the Territorial Governor of Louisiana appointing George Armistead Justice of the Peace for Arkansas Township. St. Louis: 18 May 1808. Armistead was the future Commander of American forces during the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.
297. An archive of the fabled Chrysolite Silver Mining Company of Leadville, Colorado, Leadville: 1880s to 1930s, including retained copies of correspondence from the key period of 1880-88 between the managers of the Chrysolite Mining Company and the President and Secretary of the company in New York, and a huge amount of other material relating to the great Colorado silver boom.
431. James Boswell's copy of Heures Perdues et divertissantes du Chevalier de **, Amsterdam: 1716, with his name on the front free endpaper and the inscription in ink "A Present from/my worthy Friend/Sir Alexander Rich," later the copy of Euphemia Boswell, his second daughter, circa 1836.
542. Appolinaire, Guillaume & Jim Dine. The Poet Assassinated. New York: . One of 250 copies of the deluxe edition, the colophon signed by Dine and translator Ron Padgett and with eight original pochoir plates signed and numbered by Dine.
556. Addams, Charles. Grandmother! You're not cheating!, 1966. Original drawing for an Addams Family cartoon, depicting Morticia Addams and Granny Frump at a card table, ink and gouache on illustration board, signed, also captioned and inscribed at head "For Barbara with love, Chas Addams 1966.
665. Abbott, Berenice. New York at Night, 1932. A vintage toned gelatin silver print housed in the photographer's sleeve of a folded sheet of tan hand-made paper, signed on the mount with, the photographer's 56 West 53rd New York City credit stamp on the verso of the print.
Altogether almost 800 lots, the description of the sale is eclectic and having worked my way from 1 to 794 I can confirm there are many possibilities. This is not the common New York sale. Rather, it’s the broad bouquet of possibilities that will allow all interested to pluck something for their inventories and collections.
Doyle New York
Link to the sale: https://www.doylenewyork.com/content/more.asp?id=400