Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2016 Issue

Ending July 2: $5 starts at Gibson Auction's Americana Sale a real bargain

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Highlighted lots from Gibson Auction's Rare Americana Antiquarian Book & Map Auction

Gibson Auction Service is a family owned and run business operating out of central Virginia. Serving mainly the local and drivable population, they offer all sorts of items for auction: personal property, farm machinery, real estate, and the like. In fact, the majority of their sales fall under these categories and so Gibson has never been covered on Rare Book Hub. This month, however, they are hosting a sale we’re very interested in. Entitled Rare Americana Antiquarian Book & Map Auction, the highlight of this sale is not necessarily any one lot, but the prices. Every lot begins (or began, as pre-bidding has already begun online) at $5. Rare books are not the specialty of Gibson, and with 325 lots, many being bulk lots, only the first forty lots have been given full descriptions. That being said, there are absolutely some rare and important items contained within the sale. Let’s have a look.

I just said that the highlight of this sale are its prices, but there’s definitely a single lot that stands out. John Lederer was a German surveyor who in 1669 was commissioned by Virginia governor William Berkeley to find a passage through the western mountains. He was the first European to explore west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and to see the Shenandoah Valley. The first edition of The Discoveries of John Lederer, in three several Marches from Virginia, To the West of Carolina, And other parts of the Continent: Begun in March 1669, and ended in September 1670, printed in 1672, is a “very rare book” (Sabin 39676). In the last sixty years, only two distinct copies appear in the Rare Book Transaction History over the course of several transactions. One of those, acquired by my dad Bruce at the Siebert sale in 1999, called my parents’ address home for eleven years. In 2010, his Discoveries of John Lederer, with an estimate of $40,000-60,000, sold for $158,000 at Bonhams. The book coming to sale now is not one of the two copies that have sold in living memory; it is not the Streeter-Siebert-McKinney copy. It does contain the same folding map though, which is directly correlated with the book’s value. And it claims a famous provenance nonetheless, bearing the armorial bookplate of the “Bibliotheca Phillippica,” also known as the Collection Formed By Sir Thomas Phillips, the renowned English book collector who lays claim to the largest collection of manuscript material amassed in the 19th century. Just like every other lot in this sale, lot 25, The Discoveries of John Lederer began bidding at $5. In pre-bidding at the time of this writing, that price has increased 1,000% to $5,000. Who knows what it will go for…

Lederer is not the only man to have produced a gem for the sale. Two men, far better known than Lederer, have one-of-a-kind items contained within. You may have heard of Daniel Boone and John James Audubon. Lot 23 is an autograph letter signed by Boone to Audubon, dated July 11, 1813. In the letter, Boone invites Audubon to come to his son Nathan’s house and states he is “too old and trifling now for any labor,” and also mentions how age has affected his eye sight. Pre-bidding on the lot is up to $3,000. The following lot, number 24, is an autograph letter signed by Audubon to Richard Harlan, the American naturalist and zoologist. The online catalog has excellent pictures that show the letter in clear detail, but for the life of me, I cannot decipher Audubon’s hand. I’m sure there are some of you reading this who can. Pre-bidding is currently at $1,250.

With a mere forty lots with descriptions and ridiculously low starting prices (with no reserves), any collector or purveyor of Americana, especially those interested in Virginia and the Carolinas, will enjoy browsing the catalog. As Gibson Auction Service does not usually deal in rare books and manuscripts, a keen and informed eye can very likely find some serious bargains. The official auction start time is noon Eastern Time on July 2nd. General auction information and a summary of the lots can be found here, while the complete catalog and pre-bidding are available here.


Posted On: 2016-07-01 12:52
User Name: reeseco

The Lederer is imperfect; the first leaf is in facsimile and there is loss to the top margin affecting headlines and text on about half the leaves. All of the facsimile work and the binding were done by the Robinson firm in 1953.
The supposed Daniel Boone to J. J. Audubon letter is an obvious forgery. The Audubon letter to Harlan is fine; it was from the Evans sale in 1991.
A "keen and informed eye" who examines these books- as I have- will discover many problems. Bill Reese


Posted On: 2016-07-02 01:54
User Name: scientiabk

Bruce you have done wonders for this auction.

July 1, 9:53 PM (Eastern time)
Lederer, lot 25, is up to $40,000
Audubon, lot 24, is up to $3250
Boone, lot 213, is up to $5000


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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