Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2002 Issue

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Cowan’s Lot 314

The volume consists of some text and numerous engraved plates with text and was apparently issued several times; as a result almost no two copies are identical. The plates are found in different states and issues, but the books themselves are usually deemed to be complete if they merely contain a reasonable number, usually about 70, of the plates. The book is undoubtedly the most important iconographic representation of John Law’s Mississippi Bubble Scheme and of the financial ruin it caused thousands of individuals and of the embarrassment it occasioned for various European governments. Its satire on the whole affair has never been surpassed. It even includes a set of playing cards to drive home the nature of the gamble involved in the venture. Ironically, to this day nobody knows who produced this work. The copy here certainly appears to be reasonably complete with text and 71 plates; however, it failed to sell for its estimated EUR 4,000 ($4100).

With the approach of the Lewis & Clark Centennial, interest in the various reports of the expedition of the Corps of Discovery remains constant. (See Julie Carleton’s review article on “ Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America,” AE Monthly, September, 2002). This interest reveals some ironies, however. In the PBA #254 and Sotheby’s auctions were a total of five various editions of the reports. Ironically, in the PBA auction, the official first edition of 1814 (lot 158) failed to sell for its estimate of $15,000-$25,000. Apparently all thought that too high a price to pay for a copy missing the folded map and with Library of Congress stamps on the title pages. With the map present, this same edition fetched $69,320 on an estimate of $50,000-$70,000 at Sotheby’s (lot 208). In the PBA sale, a better fate befell the complete New York, 1893, annotated edition (lot 159) of the 1814 text, however, which sold for $1265.00. Even better in the same sale was the fate of the New York, 1904, edition of the original journals and other manuscript material (lot 160), which was a special copy in a publisher’s presentation binding. It went for $8050.00, an amount that would have bought the slightly defective original 1814 edition offered as lot 158. A minor Lewis and Clark background item also brought a nice price in the same PBA sale. One of the books that Lewis and Clark consulted before their departure was Jonathan Carver’s Travels. Carver’s text was first published in 1778 and is the controversial record of the farthest penetration by a European into the American Midwest up until that time. A rough copy of the Walpole, 1813, edition of this text was knocked down for $316.00, well above its realistic $150-$250 estimate. That was a high price for an edition that has been denounced as the ugliest edition of Carver ever printed.

Three unusual Western Americana items were also found among the various sales. The first, Cowan’s lot 314, was a very fine copy in a contemporary binding with original paper spine label of David B. Edward’s The History of Texas; or the Emigrant’s, Farmer’s, and Politician’s Guide…(Cincinnati, 1836). The map was in excellent condition with no splitting at the folds. Written by an eye-witness to many of the events he describes, Edward’s insights and observations have become crucial to understanding Texas history just prior to its independence. In a perverse way Edward is almost as important a Texas observer as Mary Austin Holley, whom he plagiarized. The book is so anti-Texan that it offended practically everybody, and Edward decided for his own good to leave the republic soon after the Texas Revolution. This copy sold for $4,312.50 on an estimate of $2000-$3000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

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