Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2017 Issue

April 27: Cortés, The Book of Mormon, and other Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Auction Galleries

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The tail end of winter and beginning of Spring have been a busy time for the New York-based Swann Auction Galleries. Having concluded no less than five successful sales in the month of March, this month, the pace slows just a tad with three upcoming sales: African-American Fine Art on April 6th, Images & Objects: Photographs & Photobooks on April 20th, and Printed & Manuscript Americana on April 27th. Of the three, Printed & Manuscript Americana is most relevant to the focus of Rare Book Hub and its members, and as such, is the featured sale for this preview.

 

Taking place April 27th at 1:30 pm eastern, the sale features 371 lots, all considered Americana, but which cover a wide swath in terms of subject, locale, era, and price. High estimates top out in five digit figures, but the large majority of items are estimated $2,000 – 3,000 or less. With material from all over both American continents, there’s a lot to look at for interested collectors.

 

Hernán Cortés is a name most have heard. Remembered in history as the Conquistador responsible for the fall of the Aztec Empire and the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 1500s, letters by the man are rare. Swann states that they found none have come to auction since 1984—until now. Lot 341, estimated $50,000 to 70,000, is a letter from Cortés addressed to his assistant ordering that he offer hospitality to a visiting bishop in December, 1538. The letter carries the sale’s highest estimate.

 

One hundred and thirty-one lots preceding Cortés’ letter is the sale’s second highest estimated item, and it is of a completely different nature. Lot 210 is a first edition of The Book of Mormon, printed in Palmyra, NY by E.B. Grandin in 1830. The first edition contains several traits that distinguish it from other editions (other than the year and place printed, and publisher): this was the only edition listing Joseph Smith as the “author and proprietor” rather than as the translator; it also is the only edition with a two-page preface by Smith; and this edition does not include index pages which were inserted into later copies. There are a number of different variants of the first edition. Swann includes specific descriptions of the parts of the text that can identify this specific printing. Any interested collector should consult Janet Jenson’s “Variations Between Copies of the First Edition of the Book of Mormon,” available here. The Book of Mormon is estimated $40,000 to 60,000.

 

Another highlight of the sale, again of a totally different nature than either of the first two lots mentioned, is lot 180, being a first edition of Esther Levy’s Jewish Cookery Book, which has the distinction of being the first Jewish cookbook published in the United States (1871). More than just a cookbook, Levy’s work provides instruction and tips for things like kosher dining, household economy, table-setting, and generalized “Hints for Housekeepers.” In its own time, the Jewish Cookery Book was printed in a single edition, but in recent years has been reprinted frequently. Some of the recipes contained within have been revived in modern cookbooks. The chance to own an original copy is estimated $8,000 to 12,000.

 

Other subjects and locations covered in varying levels of depth include American Indians, the American Revolution, California, the American Civil War, Hawaii, Judaica, Latin America & Caribbeana, American Presidents, and Peru. Examples of interesting material hand-selected by Swann Auction Galleries from the sale can be viewed directly from their slideshow advertisement on many of Rare Book Hub’s webpages.

 

Printed & Manuscript Americana takes place Thursday, April 27, 2017, at 1:30 pm eastern time. The sale’s catalog is available online here. Previews of the sale include:

April 22: 12-5pm

April 24-26: 10am-6pm

April 27: 10am-12pm

 

Interested bidders must register (if not previously registered for a previous sale) with Swann before the sale, which can be done so here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.

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