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>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 54. Fanciful engraving of earth's interior with magma core and errupting volcanoes (1682). $1500 to $1800.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 165. Rare state of Jefferys' influential map of New England in contemporary color (1755). $8000 to $9500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 177. Mouzon's foundation map of the Carolinas (1775). $10000 to $13000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 183. Very rare first state of De Fer's map of the Lower Mississippi Valley (1715). $20000 to $25000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 253. Scarce Scottish edition based on Ellicott's plan of Washington, D.C. (1796). $2400 to $3000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 313. Stunning view of Philadelphia by John Bachmann (1850). $3250 to $4250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 338. Rare Civil War map based on Bucholtz map of Virginia (1862). $9500 to $12000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 667. First map to accurately show Luzon in Philippines (1590). $6000 to $7500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 682. Rare map of Shanghai International Settlement published just after WWI (1918). $7000 to $9000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 738. Coronelli's superb map of the Pacific showing the Island of California (1697) Est. $2400 - $3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 743. A cornerstone piece in the mapping of Australia and New Zealand (1726) Est. $6000 - $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 781. An uncommon signature during Jefferson's Governorship of Virginia (1779) Est. $9500 - $11000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.

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