The Caren Archive II, How History Unfolds on Paper - at Bonhams in New York on April 11th
- by Bruce E. McKinney
On April 11th Bonhams in New York will sell the 5th installment of rare and historical works on paper including printed, manuscript and photographic materials for Eric Caren, the exceptional collector of historical documents. Mr. Caren has been acquiring interesting and important first printings for most of his 56 years and a portion of his collection a decade ago was purchased to form the basis for the Newseum Collection in Washington, D.C. Mr. Caren is an exceptional intellect with both an extraordinary memory and keen understanding. He saw the future of ephemera decades ago and has been collecting this material ever since.
This sale is intended to appeal broadly, whether the three hundred eighteen lots are considered by subject, period or estimated price. A significant portion of the lots is expected to bring a thousand dollars or less while many others will set auction records so it is fair to say this sale will be both a broad and engaging event.
It is both Bonhams and Mr. Caren’s goal to cover a significant portion of all collectible subject genres (5 Centuries Worth) so as to engage an ever larger audience in Ephemera and Paper Americana, a category that has been frequently overlooked but increasingly cherished by even the most fervent antiquarian book dealers. For every category of buyer, be they collector, dealer or library, historical paper is still in its infancy and this goes a long way to explain how ahead of the times Mr. Caren was gobbling up these inherently rare treasures. He started collecting ephemera in the 1960’s before he was chronologically in double digits.
Here is the sale forward written by Mr. Eric Caren:
This is (including my sale to the Newseum) the fifth sale from my collection. It also happens to be my favorite selection. These pieces really have spoken to me and moved me to laugh, ponder, wonder and/or shake my head and smile knowingly. So many hot button topics are here: Religion, Politics, Guns, the Presidents, War and Peace and Human Nature at its best, its worst and its most unusual. I have scoured the world for these rare treasures for a half century now. I am often asked where I got this fabulous material. The answer is: everywhere, including trade shows, collectors, estate sales, flea markets, antique shops, rare book and ephemera dealers, militaria shows, photography fairs, sports memorabilia shows, auctions and, of course, online. I consistently have the same pleasure while holding history in my hands. I love the hunt, the research, the reading of the material, even the smell is often a physical pleasure. Everything within these pages has given me so much pleasure and such interesting insights into topics which are timeless. There is a lot of great Americana (as well as extraordinary international history) here. Though it is only fair that the international community compete at auction, it is my hope that a lot of the collection stays in this country so that Americans of all ages can know the thrill of holding, reading and researching these pieces for generations to come.
Sadly, History is not taught in an engaging manner these days and also when I was growing up I was inspired by Westerns, pirate movies, movies on the French and Indian War and American Revolution. Sure in retrospect some of them were silly or historically inaccurate but the key was that they made me hungry to find history at the source. Think not just of yourself as you peruse the catalog. Think of your friends, family and favorite institutions. A special thank you goes out to Christina and Tim at Bonhams and I dedicate this sale to pioneers in my field including Alton Ketchum, Rocky and Avis Gardiner, David Hervey, Stephen Resnick, Phil Jones, Al Malpa, Brian Riba, William Frost Mobley, Willis Monie, Richard Spellman, Sal Lombardo, The Baron Family, The Newman Family, Steve Geppi, Mark Rucker, Dennis Holzman, John Carbonell, Rex Stark, Sam and Paul Murray, John Kashmanian, Ray Gould, Marcus McCorison, Roger Butterfield, Valerie Jackson-Harris, Ken Ritchie and all of those institutions that insured the survival of the material which they could no longer store and de-accessioned it to me and other caretakers. Many of the aforementioned people were (like me) early members of the Ephemera Society and also many of them attended the first paper shows in the country when the material was referred to as Paper Americana back in the mid to late 1970s.
Here are ten examples of material in the sale:
Lot 38. Washington, George. 1732-1799. Journal to the River Ohio [newspaper] 1754. Est. $60,000-90,000
Lot 60. The Bunker Hill Bible of Francis Merrifield. 1755. Est: $50,000-80,000
Lot 63. Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms. [Continental Congress] broadside. 1775. Est. $20,000-30,000
Lot 84. Peace, Liberty and Independence! Broadside. Printed in Albany 1783. Est. $12,000-18,000
Lot 98. The U.S. Constitution [The New-Haven Gazette, etc.] Est. $12,000-18,000
Lot 179. Polk, James K. 1795-1849. The First Treaty Between US and China autographed by President Polk. Est. $20,000-30,000
Eric Caren’s picks of “not to be overlooked” lots
Lot 7. The Gunpowder Plot and Execution of Guy Fawkes in 1606. Est. 800-1,200
Lot 25. LOUIS XIV ROYAL WALL ALMANAC FOR 1701. Le Roy declare Monseigneur le Duc d'Anjou Roy d'Espagne.... Paris: F. & G. Landry, . Est. $3,000-5,000
Lot 156. First American Comic Strip Lampoons the American West. 1818. Est. $500-800
Lot 186. Learning the Alphabet in Chinese: Letter to Merriam of Dictionary renown. Est. $1,500-2,500
Lot 189. Important Mormon Letter about The First Major California Gold Strike. 1848. Est. $8,000-12,000
Lot 212. John Brown Gang Inscribed Photograph Estimate: $1,500-2,500