Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2017 Issue

Feb. 14: Icons & Images, a Sale of Photographs and Photobooks at Swann Auction Galleries

Highlights from Swann's Feb. 14 sale of Icons & Images

As technology has transformed the world of works on paper, the value of collectible items has shifted towards things that are aesthetically pleasing. One reason for owning books—the knowledge contained within—has largely disappeared due to digitization. Maps have seen their value hold up comparatively well, and comics are enjoying a boom (though youth is a big factor). Another collectible arena falling under the aesthetic umbrella, and which toes the line separating art and works on paper, is photography. This month, on February 14th, Swann Auction Galleries is hosting Icons & Images: Photographs & Photobook, a remarkable assortment of 325 lots depicting significant people and moments in history, as well as work by well-known photographers.

The single highest estimate in the sale is lot 13, which is a selection of 50 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion of figures in the midst of various activities like riding and jumping horses, somersaulting, and playing cricket, as well as animals such as a sloth, deer, and jaguar. These photographs come from a University of Pennsylvania-supported project between 1883 and 1886 in which Muybridge produced 100,000 pictures in his series dubbed “Animal Locomotion." They were subsequently published in sets of 100. This 50-image set is estimated $30,000 – 45,000.

The sale’s catalog cover bears the image from lot 75, entitled Portrait of Dorothy Norman, which was taken by Alfred Stieglitz in the 1930s. Though not as famous as Stieglitz, Norman was mentored by Stieglitz and is respected for her work as a photographer as well as a liberal advocate and essayist. The specific portrait being auctioned may be unique. It is estimated $20,000 – 30,000.

Another photographer that bears no need for introduction is Ansel Adams. Lot 61, Clearing Winter Storm, is a magnificent photograph of Yosemite Valley taken as storm clouds give way to clearer skies over the valley. Seeing Yosemite in person is an experience worth seeking, but seeing Yosemite through the camera of Ansel Adams is a different one entirely. That being said, visiting the national park in person is quite a bit cheaper than owning Adams’ work—this photograph is estimated $25,0000 – 35,000.

If Ansel Adams’ work is considered among the best views on the planet, then lot 285 must be considered among the best views off the planet. Thirty photographs from various NASA missions including astronauts floating in space and on the moon, and topographic views of Earth make up a truly unique set. These are the only Cibachrome (Ilfochrome) [hopefully these terms mean something to photography aficionados] prints made from the original positives and were featured at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum beginning in 1985. More than six million people have seen them. You can have the final say on who else gets to lay their eyes on them for an estimated $15,000 – 25,000.

It wouldn’t be right to preview a sale of Icons without actually covering some. Lots 70 and 188 are two striking images that fall under this category; they are universally recognizable (at least in the states). Migrant Mother, the image taken by Dorothea Lange during the Great Depression, has come to be one of the defining images for the period and has been widely reproduced. This particular copy was printed in the 1950s and is estimated $10,000 – 15,000. The other icon that jumped out at me is an image that graced the cover of National Geographic in 1985 and may just be the most famous cover of that magazine.The image is Afghan Girl by Steve McMurry, and though the title may be unfamiliar, the picture will not. The portrait of the girl with striking eyes is estimated $10,000 – 15,000.

The catalog of Icons & Images is well worth browsing, with moments like the construction of the Empire State Building, the 1936 Olympics, and the 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco shown in vivid detail, and portraits and pictures of significant figures from the last two centuries waiting to be seen again. The entire catalog is viewable online on Swann Auction Galleries’ website

Icons & Images will take place February 14th at 1:30 eastern. Bidding is available via the usual methods of live, absentee, telephone, and internet. Registration with Swann is required for first-time bidders.

Preview dates and times are as follows:

Feb 9 to 11: 12-5 eastern

Feb 13: 12-5 eastern

Feb 14: 10-12 eastern

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Closing Time, Advance Readers Copy of Uncorrected Proof with a letter from Heller on his personal stationary
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Gates, Bill, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, N Y: Knopf, 2021; first edition, with a handwritten note from Bill Gates
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Catch-22, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961, first edition, first printing, first issue dust jacket, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Something Happened, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, first edition, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, London: John Murray, 1818, in four volumes
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

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