Source : Kraus

Source Title Americana Vetustissima, Catalogue 185
Description For half a century H.P. Kraus has been established at 16 East 46th Street, New York, in a five-story brownstone amid the skyscrapers of mid-town Manhattan. This small cultural oasis epitomizes the world of rare books whose inhabitants need, as well as scholarship and knowledge, the persistence and intuition of a good detective. In the words of the firm’s late founder, life in this field of rare books “involves research carrying one back through all of recorded history, across the world, and into just about every human activity.”

Some of the most magnificent achievements of Western civilization in the form of early manuscripts and printed books have passed through our hands. Treasures such as the Hours of Catherine of Cleves (Morgan Library), the Rothschild Apocalypse (Cloisters, MMA), the Giant Bible of Mainz (LC), the Gutenberg Bible and the Shakespeare Folios; libraries such as part of the enormous collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps, the princely library of Lichtenstein, and much of the ducal one of Arenberg. One rarity which eluded Hans Kraus all his life was finally acquired by the firm in 1991, and a copy of the 36-line Bible, much rarer than the Gutenberg Bible, is now in the W.H. Scheide library at Princeton.

As well as early manuscripts and incunabula, our stock includes European books on a variety of subjects from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, early Americana, maps, and bibliography. We issue three or four catalogues yearly in different fields, and are always pleased to assist new collectors in those areas.
Scope of Text In an extraordinary tour-de-force the esteemed booksellers H. P. Kraus of New York City prepared an unusual catalogue of Americana to honor the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus arriving in the new world – Americana Vetustissima (Catalogue 185). To create this catalogue that they issued in 1991, they organized an absolutely extraordinary group of important pieces most of which date to within 50 years of Columbus’ discovery. Of course the first item is a Columbus Letter printed in Rome in the late spring of 1493. For those who love the earliest materials what follows is an absolute tour de force of absolutely impeccable examples. There’s a 1504 Vespucci Letter and a 1507 Waldseemuller, a 1521 Peter Martyr, a 1532 Cortes Letter and a 1553 Lopez de Gomara. To read this catalogue you could begin to think that such material is actually obtainable when in fact it is very rarely seen. For those who are momentarily transported back to a time when such material could be found, one is brought back to reality by the prices which reflect that these pieces, while rare in any condition, are themselves, in every case in this catalogue, condition rarities.

It is one thing to look through great catalogues of 75 years ago and think that a few dollars invested then would have yielded extraordinary returns today. But we all know that such materials haven’t just risen in price, they have also disappeared almost entirely.”
Total Records in AED 569
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.
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