Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2007 Issue

A Streeter Auction Returns This Month


This first edition of Lewis and Clark will provide insight on the state of the current book market.

By Michael Stillman

There will be an important auction with a very familiar name taking place at Christie's in New York later this month. It will be déjà vu for collectors of printed Americana. On April 16 and 17, 2007, Christie's will be auctioning the Frank S. Streeter Library of Navigation, Pacific Voyages, Cartography and Science. Over 500 items will be offered for sale.

If the Streeter name sounds familiar, there is good reason. It was Frank Streeter's father, Thomas W. Streeter, who compiled one of the finest collections of Americana ever assembled in private hands. His collection of pre-statehood Texana was the highlight of his magnificent library. This portion was sold en masse to Yale University in the 1950s. However, he retained the rest of his almost 5,000 volumes to be resold to the public after his death. Thomas Streeter died in 1965 and the sale of his collection was one of the most significant auctions of the 20th century, perhaps the most important of all in Americana. It was sold in a series of seven auctions that ran from 1966 through 1969 at Parke-Bernet in New York. It brought in $3.1 million, a milestone for American book auctions at the time.

While the son, Frank Streeter, was not quite as spectacular a collector as his father, his collection is still quite impressive. His focus was not as broad, but it is outstanding within the field of Pacific travel and voyages, scientific discoveries, and Americana. The younger Streeter served in the Pacific during the Second World War, which may explain his collecting focus. Frank Streeter, who like his father worked in the field of high finance, died this past year at the age of 88, and also left his collection to be auctioned to the public. Those who weren't around to see the first Streeter auctions may not want to miss this additional opportunity to witness a Streeter sale.

Though this is noted as a primarily voyage sale, Americana collectors should no more miss this one than the previous generation should have ignored the earlier Streeter sale. While Pacific voyages frequently touch on the Americas, there are also numerous accounts of land explorations on the North American continent. Lewis and Clark, Champlain, Mackenzie, Fremont, Pike, Brackenridge and Hennepin all made their way into Streeter's collection. There is even Paul Revere's grandson's account of the California Gold Rush. The first edition of Lewis and Clark's official report will undoubtedly be watched carefully as this is a bellwether of American collecting, the most important American overland travel book of all. It is estimated to bring in $100,000-$150,000. Which end of that range is closest to accurate will tell us something about the market.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 1805 TN Supreme Court Book, John Overton and Hugh White Opinions. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> TN Lunsford Bramlett Archive, incl. Polk White House Invitation, 8 Items. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Civil War Archive, incl. Gen. Bate on Death of Polk, Capture of Nashville. $2,000 to $2,400.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 5 Dickens 1st Ed. Books, incl. Edited by Author. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Charles Dickens, 5 Christmas Books, 1st Eds. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 2 Slave Documents, Nashville TN & North Carolina. $700 to $900.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 3 Maurice Sendak Signed Items, incl. Nutcracker, Pierre. $500 to $600.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 7 Phillip Roth Hardcover Books, incl. Author Signed, 1st Eds. $500 to $550.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 6 Kurt Vonnegut Hardcover Books, incl. Author Signed, 1st Eds. $400 to $500.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 3 Edward Gorey Items, incl. Print + 2 Books. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Josef Albers, INTERACTION OF COLOR, 1963. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Henri Matisse Jazz Portfolio for MOMA, 1st Ed., 1983. $600 to $800.

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