Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2017 Issue

First Printings at Christie's on June 15th

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Eric Caren, the remarkable collector of first and important printings, after two sales at Swann and two more at Bonhams has given his sale of very important material to Christie’s to be sold on June 15th.  This type of material is quickly coming to be expected in the rooms and for that Mr. Caren will be remembered for his innovative approach to collecting.  He has sailed into the field’s conventional wisdom and emerged as a prophet.

 

Here is Christie’s perspective on his upcoming material.

 

On June 15, Christie’s New York will auction The Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper as a single-owner section leading off the sale of Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts including Americana. The 109 lots of this selection span from the 16th to the 20thcenturies and represent some of the best of Caren’s world-renowned collection.

 

Collectors and curators of historical paper are no strangers to Eric Caren’s name. It’s been about half a century since he first ventured into a local abandoned house to emerge with armfuls of old newspapers and carry them triumphantly home. Over the decades Caren has retained that passion and energy and honed it into a focused goal: to collect the major events of human history in forms as close as possible in both time and place to the events themselves. The results—eyewitness  letters, same-day newspapers, broadsides, etc.—all bear witness to history with striking immediacy and emotional force.  It is Caren’s appreciation of dramatic moments that might make him particularly well-suited to selling at auction, with its tales of both hidden bargains and fierce competition. The Christie’s sale is his fifth venture to the auction block and there are two more auctions planned at Cowan’s later this year. What makes the Christie’s sale special is that it includes, in his own words, the “crème de la crème” of his archive, and is “as good as it gets either due to content, display value, rarity, provenance or a combination of these factors.” The just over 100 lots are expected to bring over $1 million.

 

One very timely theme in the Christie’s sale is the patriotic press. The appetite for news has been so extraordinary in history; it is good to be reminded of the great dangers journalists have endured to bring the public fresh information.  There are examples in this collection of the extremely difficult circumstances under which news was both gathered and printed.

 

The first such lot is a December 23, 1734 issue of John Peter Zenger’s newspaper, The New-York Weekly Journal printed while Zenger was in jail. The New-York Weekly Journal was the first newspaper in America to be forthrightly political and Zenger was soon charged and imprisoned for seditious libel. In this very paper Zenger describes how he was harassed by henchmen of the Sheriff before his arrest and even, “deny’d the Use of Pen, Ink and Paper.” Zenger was eventually found not guilty thanks to the eloquence of his counsel, Andrew Hamilton, and the case is considered the first major victory for freedom of the press in North America.

 

Probably the most iconic “freedom of the press” newspaper is William Bradford’s legendary Halloween 1765 issue of the Pennsylvania Journal. With the loathed Stamp Act set to take effect the following day, Bradford set up his entire front-page as a tombstone and announced that he was suspending publication: “Adieu, Adieu to the Liberty of the Press.” Bradford’s ire is expressed in woodcuts of skulls and crossbones, shovels and pickaxes and on the back page there is an image of a coffin captioned: “The last Remains of the Pennsylvania Journal, Which departed this Life, the 31st of October, 1765 of a Stamp in her Vitals, Aged 23 Years.” Happily for Bradford, about six months later he also published the extremely rare first broadside American printing of the repeal of the Stamp Act. This was a Pennsylvania Journal extra dated May 19, 1766 and it is the following lot in the Caren sale.

 

Other papers on the theme of patriotic journalism include one of the very earliest political cartoons, being an elaborate woodcut cruelly lampooning a Philadelphia loyalist, in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, September 19, 1772; a very rare and important broadside describing the Boston Tea Party, likely the only copy extant in private hands, being published by the Pennsylvania Journal on Christmas Eve, 1773 (lot 228); and a full front-page printing of Thomas Paine’s American Crisis No. 1, “these are the times that try men’s souls…,” possibly the single-most inspirational polemic of the American Revolution, in the Connecticut Gazette, January 17, 1777 (lot 242). The capstone of these wonderful incitements to arms is found in a unique extremely large banner headline “LAUS DEO!” announcing the surrender of Cornwallis on the same day that Congress first heard of it. This is very likely the first printing of the news that secured American independence, printed in Francis Bailey’s The Freeman’s Journal on October 24, 1781.  The conclusion of the War was followed by a struggle to form a new government. Lot 252 is a rare and spectacular front-page printing of the United States Constitution. There is also a probable first printing of the final Bill of Rights published in the leading Federalist newspaper of the day, The Gazette of the United States (lot 254).

 

The War of 1812, considered the “Second American Revolution,” also provided us with a national anthem. The Caren Collection includes both the first obtainable printing of any portion of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star Spangled Banner” (lot 274) on September 21, 1814 in the Baltimore Patriot and the earliest obtainable full printing of the poem published the next day in the Daily Federal Republican (lot 275).  Newspapers were under attack during the War of 1812: lot 272 is a black-bordered broadside headed “Riot in Baltimore” describing the mob attacks on the offices of the Federal-Republican, long hostile to the Madison administration.

 

Newspaper offices under attack were clearly difficult places in which to publish news. The Caren Collection also includes examples of broadsides printed on army field presses from the scenes of war. One of the most evocative items in the sale is a Confederate broadside in which Robert E. Lee thanks his men for their bravery at Gettysburg, printed from the field during the retreat from that battle. Lee’s address was very stirring but it could never have fully succeeded in rallying the spirits of the Confederacy after the epic losses at Gettysburg. This modest slip of paper is misprinted and worn, altogether an extremely haunting survival.

 

Another compelling aspect of the Caren Collection is the number of eyewitness accounts. One of the great treasures in the sale is an original deposition used during the Salem Witch Trials. Here, a teenage girl gives testimony against her neighbor that helped send the woman to the gallows for witchcraft. This is an exceptional rarity as contemporary manuscripts from the Salem trials almost never come to market. This one describes in vivid detail how the deponent had her hair pulled and was thrown from her chair by the spectral image of a poor widow.

 

Another item redolent of colonial violence, and rarer still than the Salem document, is a letter dating from the 1704 Deerfield Massacre. The writer offers moral support to a father of a woman taken captive during the French and Indian raid on the frontier outpost. In part (spelling modernized), “I cannot with my pen express the concernedness of spirit that is in me for you and my dear cousin that is led captive by the bare-backed heathen … it is my daily request that God will support her in body and spirit & her bodily captivity may prove to her spiritual enlargement.” The abductee, Hannah Chapin, was forcibly marched into Canada but finally ransomed in 1706.

 

Christie’s will be offering an entire manuscript journal covering the years at the start of the Revolutionary War, written by a patriot who lived inside British-occupied Boston for nearly a year. Timothy Newell was a Boston Selectman and he described the battles of Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill from his own unique perspective. This is one of the few records of its kind in private hands (lot 232).

 

One of our favorite eyewitness accounts is a vivid, handwritten letter by a personal friend of General George Custer. He writes on June 28, 1876 to wife after finding the General and his command slain on the battlefield at Little Big Horn. “His expression is serene and peaceful—of course perfectly naked,” he wrote. Despite his sorrow for his fallen commander he still feels, “Bad generalship on Custer’s part the cause & do not like to say this – but I do.” (Lot 298)The lot preceding the Custer is yet another exciting first-person letter, this one from an African-American Civil War soldier written to his former captain and honoring his sacrifice “for the rights and elevation of the Colored race.” Included is a carte-de-visite photograph of the soldier, Richard H. Etheridge of the 36th Infantry.

 

Also of note in this category is a sensational letter by a wealthy survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in which she testifies that Bruce Ismay told her he would speed up the ship despite the danger of icebergs (her statement would make international headlines and cement Ismay’s abysmal reputation, lot 304); a Gold Rush letter describing the capture and killing of Joaquin Murieta, the “Robin Hood of El Dorado” (lot 283); a nearly 300-page manuscript by a settler on the Oregon Trail (lot 285); and a letter by the founder of Tombstone, Arizona explaining how he came to give that name to the notorious settlement (lot 299).

 

The ultimate lot from the Eric Caren Collection takes us right into the 20thCentury and rounds out the history of communications as witnessed throughout the sale. It’s the foundation of the Internet: the breakthrough 1974 article describing the invention of TCP/IP Protocol with lengthy inscriptions by both “fathers of the Internet,” Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn describing the experience. Eric Caren befriended Cerf who inscribed it and then kindly forwarded the article to his partner Kahn for another inscription, thus obtaining manuscript narratives from both inventors describing arguably the biggest game changer in recorded history. From the Pony Express to the Internet, an auction of the Eric Caren Collection is news we all want to hear about.

 

The sale’s catalogue can be viewed both on Rare Book Hub’s upcoming auction search and on Christie’s website.

 

The auction will take place Thursday June 15, 2007 in New York at 2pm. Exhibition times are the following

Saturday, June 10, 10am-5pm

Sunday, June 11, 1pm-5pm

Monday, June 12, 10am-5pm

Tuesday, June 13, 10am-5pm

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000
  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, <i>El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha . . . Nueva Edición,</i> first Ibarra edition, Madrid, 1780. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Prayer Book in Latin and French, France, 1530-40s. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin, France, mid-15th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b><br><i>Die Ernsthaffte Christenpflicht,</i> earliest known edition of the first complete Mennonite prayer book, 1708. $300 to $500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Georg Agricola, <i>De ortu & causis subterraneorum Lib V.,</i> first edition, Basel, 1546. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Frederick Ruysch, <i>Icon durae matris in concava [convexa] superficie visae,</i> with 2 mezzotints by Jan Ladmiral, first edition, Amsterdam, 1737. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, <i>Eine Neue Art von Strahlen,</i> Würzburg, 1895. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pietro Carrera, <i>Il Gioco de gli Scacchi,</i> first edition, Militello, 1617. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> William Lithgow, <i>The Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures</i> [etc.], London, 1632. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Michel de Nostradamus, <i>The True Prophecies or Prognostications,</i> first complete edition in English, London, 1672. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pseudo-Methodius, <i>De revelatione facta . . . beato Methodio,</i> Basel, 1504. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Hrabanus Maurus, <i>De laudibus sancte crucis opus,</i> Pforzheim, 1503. $1,000 to $2,000.

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