Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2008 Issue

<i>In The News</i>: Magna Carta Back in Washington, Abe's Latest Top 10

Magna

1297 Magna Carta, recently auctioned by Sotheby's, is back on display in Washington.


By Michael Stillman

A copy of the Magna Carta has found its way back home to the National Archives in Washington. Of course, this is not the original home for this document. It resided in England for almost 700 years after it was inscribed in 1297. However, while all but one other of the few remaining 13th century copies of this bill of rights, first created in 1215, remain in England, this one was brought to America in the 1980s by Ross Perot. His Perot Foundation purchased it, and almost immediately put it on display at the National Archives. It remained there until last year, when the Perot Foundation put it up for sale at Sotheby's. There it was purchased by investor David Rubinstein, a former advisor during the Carter administration and founder of the Carlyle Group, for $21.3 million.

Fortunately for Americans, Rubinstein believes a copy belongs in the U.S. for Americans to appreciate too. This is reasonable enough, for while this document is English in origin, the freedoms it guaranteed inspired America's Declaration of Independence and some of the rights enshrined in its Constitution. So, once again the Magna Carta is on view at the National Archives, and hopefully will remain so for a very long time.

AbeBooks announced its highest price sales for February, and as always, these lists provide a curious mix of titles. This list features an American novel classic, a rambunctious young lady, a Christian Science first, butterflies, and the man we used to be referring to when we said the name "Dylan."

10. Sketches in Architecture, written in 1798 by Bank of England architect John Soane. A second edition. $3,934.

9. Over Sea, Under Stone, a first British edition inscribed by author Susan Cooper. $4,000.

8. The Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas, inscribed in 1950 by the author from whom Bob Dylan took his name. $4,118.

7. Lepidoptera, Rhopaloceres and Heteroceres, Indigenous and Exotic, with Descriptions, an 1870s first work by leading North American butterfly expert Herman Strecker. $4,125.

6. Le Centaure, a limited edition of the work by French poet Maurice de Guerin with 73 wood engravings by Claudius Linossier. $4,200.

5. Science and Health, the true first edition from 1875 by Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. $4,750.

4. Over Sea, Under Stone, this time a first American edition from 1966, inscribed by author Susan Cooper. $4,800.

3. Gone With the Wind, a signed first edition of Margaret Mitchell's southern classic. $5,500.

2. Eloise in Moscow highlights five volumes in the life of the precocious six-year-old, signed by author Hilary Knight and illustrator Kay Thompson. $5,852.

1. Sefarad: Revista del Instituto Arias Montano de Estudios Hebraicos y Oriente Próximo by Consejo Superior de Investigaciones. That's a mouthful, but then again, this consists of 63 volumes, from 1941-2003, covering the Bible and the history of the Jews in Spain. $7,265 (or just $115 per volume).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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