Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2017 Issue

Mar. 9: Shakespeare, manuscripts, and more at Bonham's New York

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Normally when I write previews of upcoming auctions for Rare Book Monthly, I can key in on a few highlights that top the estimates, and also look at the other end of the spectrum for material that doesn’t require millions of dollars of disposable income. The cut off for the high end material is often six digits. For Bonhams’ March 9th sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts, though, the six digit cut off doesn’t really work, with seven items carrying low estimates of at least $100,000. To go into detail on all of them would leave little room for anything else.

Technically, Bonhams is holding two consecutive sales on March 9th, one of Fine Literary Manuscripts at 1:00 pm EST, and another of Fine Books and Manuscripts at 1:30 pm EST. On Bonhams website, the two sales are combined into one online catalog of Fine Books and Manuscripts, and the lot numbers are organized as one sale, so I’m treating it as such.

The auction contains lots numbered through 326, though there are in fact 251 lots for sale (lots 28-99 and a few others are omitted).

The first twenty-seven lots which make up the literary manuscripts portion of the sale are of the highest quality for such material. The jewel is an autograph manuscript by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Victorian era poet, which was the working notebook for the poems contained in The Seraphim and Other Poems. I’m no expert on Victorian poetry, but Bonhams describes her as “one of the most important poets of her age.” Evidently, a manuscript such as this notebook is one of a kind, and the last time it came up for sale was over thirty years ago (Sotheby’s, July 16, 1984). Estimated for $400,000 – 600,000 as lot 3, Browning’s notebook will be the masterpiece in a wealthy person or institution's collection of poetry and/or manuscripts. Three other autograph manuscripts by Browning are also on offer.

With only twenty-seven lots of literary manuscripts, the bar is set high for included material. Autograph material from well-known authors such as Louisa May Alcott, James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, Henry Longfellow, A.A. Milne, Boris Pasternak, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, and Emile Zola make up an impressive offering.

The Fine Books and Manuscripts part of the sale carries a diverse array of material, including literature, natural history, scientific writings, and a final section dedicated to John F. Kennedy.

Another of the sale’s six digit estimate items is a first issue of the Second Folio of Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, printed in 1632. This was the first appearance in print of John Milton, and the copy being auctioned, the Hawtrey-Sullivan-White-Perlman Copy, is an unusually large one with a detailed provenance. This instantly recognizable piece of history is estimated $200,000 – 300,000 as lot 164.

Another highly important work is one of a much different nature than the Second Folio. The Crowning of Nature, or Coronatio Naturae, is an undated alchemical manuscript (but listed elsewhere as created sometime between 1597 and 1602) that depicts chemical processes meant to create the ever sought after “Philosopher’s Stone.” The volume being auctioned is the only complete copy containing all 67 sequenced drawings in private hands. As lot 100, it is estimated $100,000 – 150,000. 

More than 75 items related to John F. Kennedy make up the closing section of the auction. Material include manuscripts from both the President and his wife Jackie, signed photographs, his inaugural address from 1961 (lot 262, est. $4,000 – 6,000), and a campaign poster (lot 255, est. $800 – 1,200). What’s presented here would make equally for excellent additions to an existing collection or the basis of a new one. 

Bonhams’ sale of Fine Book and Manuscripts is set to take place on March 9, 2017, at 1:00 pm EST. Registration is required and may be done so here. The entire online catalog is viewable on the Bonhams website here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>A Record Breaking Season</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Vincent Van Gogh, <i>Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, Evening,</i> etching, 1890. Sold Nov. 2 — $161,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edward Ruscha, <i>Stains,</i> title page, one of 70, signed, 1969. Sold Nov. 9 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> John James Audubon, <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26,</i> hand colored aquatint, 1828. Sold Dec.9 — $137,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edmund Dulac, <i>The Snow Queen,</i> watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, 1910. Sold Dec. 16 — $125,000.
  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>February 26, 2022</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> ALLEN, Ethan. <i>A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen’s Captivity from the Time of his Being Taken by the British, near Montreal…,</i> Rare second edition, 1779. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain"). <i>The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.</i> New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> LANE, Edward William, translator. <i>Tales of a Thousand and One Nights; [or], The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.</i> London, 1838–1841. 32 parts in 33. $7,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> GRANT, James, Lieut. <i>The Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery, performed in His Majesty's Vessel The Lady Nelson...</i> London, 1803. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Civil War Archive, including Hospital CDVs. $2,400 to $2,800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> W.B. Gosnell's Civil War Era 34 Star Flag w/ Book on Western Expansion. $1,200 to $1,400.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> 15 Star Parade Flag and Envelope, Framed. $800 to $900.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Partial Civil War Album, incl. Confederate Leaders. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> CDV Album incl. Garfield, plus Framed CSA Currency. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Two Geronimo Cabinet Cards, incl. St. Louis World's Fair Signed. $2,800 to $3,200.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Dickens, Charles. <i>A Christmas Carol,</i> 1st Ed. 1843. $1,800 to $2,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Archive of Col. John Fite, CSA, POW Johnson's Island, first of two lots, 8 Items. $1,200 to $1,400.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Kentucky Confederate Call to Arms Broadside, 1862. $1,200 to $1,400.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Fine Art, Antique, and Jewelry Auction<br>January 29 & 30, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. <i>For Whom the Bell Tolls,</i> 1st Ed. $1,000 to $1,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> Autograph Album with Confederate Signatures, incl. Jeff Davis. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 29-30:</b> WWI Navy Posters plus Photo of USS John Hood, 3 pcs. $700 to $750.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana<br>Online<br>Now through January 25, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> (Flag) — Commemorative Thirteen-Star Flag. Pre-Civil War, Thirteen-Star Flag of the United States, from the collection of Charles Kuralt. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Fitzgerald, F. Scott. <i>Tender is the Night</i>. First edition, presentation copy, and a former mystery. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Salinger, J.D. <i>The Catcher in the Rye.</i> A strikingly fresh first edition of Salinger's essential novel. $20,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Whitman, Walt. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> “America's second Declaration of Independence” — signed by Whitman. $150,000 to $200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> [Dylan, Bob]. Some of the earliest known professional portraits. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Y-Worth [Yarworth], William. <i>Cerevisiarii Comes: Or, the New and True Art of Brewing…</i> A rare and early English work on the art of brewing. $5,000 to $7,000.

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