Jan. 21: Antiquarian Books, Maps, Documents, and Autographs at Case Antiques

- by Thomas C. McKinney

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Items from Case Antiques' Winter Art and Antiques Auction

Case Antiques, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based auction house specializing in art and antiques, began having their rare books, maps, manuscripts, and ephemera lots added to the Rare Book Transaction History last year. Not all lots in their sales will appeal to members of Rare Book Hub, but with a little research, reasonably estimated and rare items are waiting to be bid on. January 21st marks one such occasion. Case Antiques’ Winter Art and Antiques Auction contains 949 lots, of which about 120 fall under the category of works on paper. These items hail from the collections of Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin Caldwell, Charles and Ann Harwell Wells, as well as several other fine Tennessee estates and collections. Dr. Caldwell’s contributions to the sale include a collection of medical books and early Tennessee imprints, and Ann Wells, a retired map dealer with a passion for Southern maps, has consigned material reflecting her interest.

The highest estimated print/paper lot is in fact a painting, though it also includes a signed document which qualifies it for Rare Book Hub’s focus. Cassily Adams was an American painter who served during the Civil War, though he is best known for his depictions of the post-war West. Lot 224 is a rare painting (in terms of subject) by him harkening back to his war experience during which he served on the USS Osage, one of the first river-going ironclad warships. The document included with the painting is a framed Civil War order for G.M. Rogers to detach from the USS Osage and report to the USS Ouichita, signed by Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, commander of the Mississippi Squadron, and co-signed by Adams as Acting Ensign. Estimated at $3,000 – 5,000, Adams’ work fits in the home of any Civil War collector.

Another highlight of the sale is an 1854 three octavo volume printing of John Audubon and John Bachman’s The Quadrupeds of North America, Audubon’s second monumental natural history work. Edition is not stated in the lot’s description, and it’s unclear whether this is a first or second edition as the printings overlapped and these copies are printed by J.T. Bowen & Co. of Philadelphia. If it is a first edition, then it’s one of the last printed as the first edition run ended in 1854 (the second edition was printed between 1852 and 1855). With an estimate of $2,400 – 3,400, I assume this is a second edition. Have a look for yourself under lot 555. 

It wouldn’t be right to cover a sale by a Tennessee-based auction house without referencing some items close to home, and stand outs are numerous and difficult to choose. Lot 198 is an 1803 imprint entitled Laws of the State of Tennessee by George Roulstone, which is the first such compilation for the state and also one of, if not the first book printed in Tennessee. The copy being auctioned also has a significant amount of genealogical information written in hand about the Gambill family with many births recorded from 1786 to 1805. It carries an estimate of $2,000 – 3,000. Another item that’s somewhat more photogenic is lot 191, being a first edition of Art Work of Chattanooga, Tennessee printed in 1906. The book, which was published in nine parts and is protected by a clamshell case, contains 69 leaves of photogravure prints depicting various scenes in and around Chattanooga. It is a superb view of the area during a much different time. Art Work of Chattanooga is estimated at $1,800 – 2,200. And returning to Civil War-era material, there are several lots of letters from Confederate Generals to Nashville educator and author John Berrien Lindsley whose contributions helped Lindsley to write his book The Military Annals of Tennessee. Lots 219 through 222 cover these letters, with high estimates not exceeding $700. Lot 219 is a letter from Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Lastly, it was mentioned in the introduction that the sale includes consignments from retired map dealer Ann Wells. One such map is an 1804 copper plate engraving of Tennessee, which depicts the state in its early setting, with towns and roads, county as well as Native American lines, rivers, and mountains included in detail. Tennessee was drawn by Samuel Lewis, engraved by Alexander Lawson, and published in Philadelphia by John Conrad and Company. It is estimated at $500 – 700 as lot 210.

The final category of note in the sale is that of autographs of prominent Americans, especially Presidents. A signed copy of JFK’s Profiles in Courage (lot 566, est. $1,200 – 1,500) and FDR’s personal and signed copy of Laura Thornborough’s The Great Smoky Mountains (lot 192, est. $1,500 – 1,800) are two books bearing presidential signatures. And as for autograph documents, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Johnson, James Polk, Sam Houston and the previously mentioned Jefferson Davis may all be had.

The full catalog of Case Antiques’ Winter Art and Antiques Auction is available online. Printed material and works on paper for sale are grouped into 3 separate runs, with items appearing from lots 191-236, 514-578, and 849-863. The sale takes place Saturday, January 21, 2017, and a preview is available the preceding day, Friday, January 20 from noon to 6pm eastern. Other preview appointments can be made by contacting Case Antiques directly at info@caseantiques.com or (865) 558-3033. Bidding will be available through all expected formats—live, absentee, phone, and internet. Bidding details can be viewed here.