Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2016 Issue

Feb. 4: Swann Galleries brings the Federalist Papers and more to sale

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Highlight items from Swann Galleries' sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana

February 4th is a date Americana collectors want to have circled on their calendars. Featuring a particularly strong array of revolutionary era and religious material, Swann Auction Galleries’ sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana promises not to disappoint with 324 lots offered. With a wide range of prices and Americana-related focuses, the sale carries broad appeal. Let’s take a look at some of the lots available.

The headline item for the sale has no competition. The Federalist papers needs little to no introduction. With 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, this pivotal item played no small role in securing the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Three copies appeared at auction last year, with condition a significant factor: prices ranged from approximately $50,000 to over $300,000. This copy is described as having minimal wear and is estimated $90,000 – 120,000 as lot 126.

The item with the second highest estimates of the sale is far more obscure. Many people save those with a collecting focus on Mormonism may never have heard of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. An early Latter Day Saint monthly newspaper (the second of its kind), a run of this periodical is extremely rare—Swann notes that only three other runs have come to auction in the last sixty years. The Messenger and Advocate was short-lived, being printed from October 1834 to September 1837, and this run is volumes I and II (of III), bound in one. It is estimated $50,000 – 75,000 and can be found at lot 188.

In November 2013, a landmark item was sold at auction at Sotheby’s. With a final hammer price of $14.2 million, the Bay Psalm, the first book printed in English in North America, set the record for highest price ever for a printed book. In Swann’s Printed & Manuscript Americana, a copy of the Bay Psalm is also available. No, this is not a first edition. However, this is still a special item, as it is a previously unknown 7th edition printed in Boston in 1693. No other copies have been traced. Interestingly enough, the original owner of the book, Jonathan Corwin, was a judge at the Salem Witch Trials. This edition is estimated $30,000 – 40,000 under lot 84.

Returning to revolutionary times, two copies of a work by Thomas Jefferson are being sold. Notes on the State of Virginia is available in both English, and French, as Observations sur la Virginie. This work was born out of a questionnaire circulated to America’s governors in 1781 by Francois Barbé-Marbois, a French diplomat stationed in Philadelphia, and contain the expanded answers from Jefferson who had recently completed his term as governor of Virginia. Both copies include a folding map of Virginia and surrounding states. The version in French is considered the first published edition and was printed in 1786. It is available as lot 155 and estimated $30,000 – 40,000. The English edition was printed the following year, and follows as the next item in the sale, lot 156, carrying an estimate of $25,000 – 35,000.

Even with the heavyweight items we’ve already gone through, there’s still an item that may prove to be the most iconic of the sale. Lot 171 is America’s most famous reward poster, that of the murderer of Abraham Lincoln. Entitled $100,000 Reward! The Murderer of our Late Beloved President, Abraham Lincoln, is Still at Large, this is a second issue of the second printing, coming days after the assassination. Estimated $20,000 – 30,000, this piece of history will make a fine visual centerpiece in many Americana collections.

With 324 total lots, Printed & Manuscript Americana is worth your time perusing. The catalogue is available online here. The sale goes live at 1:30 Eastern on February 4th, with a multitude of bidding methods available: in person, phone, fax email, and Swann’s website. Live online bidding is available via Invaluable.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Antiquarian Books<br>Including a series of views of Milan<br>September 27 to October 4</b></center>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Livius, Historia Romanae decades, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1470, contemporary Morocco. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Blaeu, Nieuw Stedeboeck van Italien (Piemont), The Hague, 1724-1725, 8 volumes, marbled calf gilt. €70,000 to €90,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Baysio, Rosarium decretorum, Venice, 1481, later vellum. €10,000 to €15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> [Niccolò da Poggibonsi], Viaggio da Venetia al santo Sepulchro, Venice, 1529, later half calf. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Sep. 27 – Oct. 4:</b> Hieronymus, Epistole [Italian], Ferrara, 1497, blue crushed morocco with the Rocco di Torrepadula arms. €12,000 to €15,000.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Extensive archive of papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> George Catlin, <i>North American Indian Portfolio,</i> 1844. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures, Carefully Translated…after the Best Jewish Authorities, Philadelphia, 1853-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Wedding book of Eleanor Roosevelt’s bodyguard, Earl Miller, signed by the Roosevelts, 1932. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Textile titled <i>The Resignation of Pres’t Washington,</i> Scotland, circa 1800. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Gideon Welles, Pass for President Lincoln’s White House funeral, 1865. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Confirmation of arms and nobility in favor of the Diez y Mora family, Madrid, 1710. $2,500 to $3,500.
  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> JOYCE, James. <i>Ulysses.</i> London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1937. PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST ENGLISH EDITION PRINTED IN ENGLAND. $50,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [SHACKLETON, Ernest]. –– BROWNING, Robert. <i>Poetical Works of…</i> London: Smith and Elder, 1906. PRESENTED TO SHACKLETON AND THE OFFICERS OF THE NIMROD BY A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York: George R. Lockwood, [1870]. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> ARISTOTLE. Opera, in Greek, parts one and two only: Organon and Natural Philosophy I. Edited by Aldus and others. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1 November 1495–February 1498. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> COOK, James, Capt. [Collected Voyages]. First and Second Voyages: London: W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1773, 1777; Third Voyage: London: H. Hughes for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, 1785. $14,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (“Mark Twain”). <i>The Writings of…</i> Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1899–1900. $12,000 to $16,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>The Poems of…</i> Edited by Frederick S. Ellis. Hammersmith: William Morris for the Kelmscott Press, 1893. $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> LONDON, Jack. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905. PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY LONDON. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CROWLEY, Aleister (1875–1947). <i>The Winged Beetle.</i> London: privately printed, 1910. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> WILDE, Oscar (“C.3.3.”). <i>The Ballad of Reading Gaol.</i> London: Leonard Smithers, January 1898. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> DRYDEN, John. <i>Fables Ancient and Modern; translated into verse from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems.</i> London: John Tonson, 1700. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [MAP]. LINSCHOTEN, Jan Huygen van. <i>Delineatio Orarum Maritimarum…</i> London: John Wolfe, 1598. $3,000 to $4,000.

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