A Busy Fall for Swann Galleries and Rare Americana in September

- by Thomas C. McKinney

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Swann Auction Galleries has released their Fall 2017 Auction Schedule, and it is quite the lineup! Starting mid-September and running through mid-December, sales that may interest readers of Rare Book Monthly include the following:

 

September 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings

September 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana

October 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books

October 19: Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks

October 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters

November 2: Old Master Through Modern Prints

November 7: Autographs

November 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature

December 5: Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books

 

September’s sales include 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings and Printed & Manuscript Americana. Prints is an art sale, with high profile and highly valued work from Picasso, Dalí, Whistler, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec to name but a few. Artwork is best appreciated with one’s own eyes, so I will simply leave a link to the online catalog here.

 

From Printed & Manuscript Americana, we have 325 lots coming to the rooms, and by the looks of the top 10 lots by valuation, I’m immediately reminded of how much of an umbrella term “Americana” is. Minnesota carries the highest estimate, being a large archive (245 autograph letters signed) of Indian missionary letters written by the Pond family while they resided on the frontier. Truly a one of a kind lot, an archive of this volume offers a rare perspective into life in the mid 19th century in Minnesota. As lot 166, it is estimated $30,000 to $40,000.

 

The American Revolution, as it often is in Americana sales, is represented here too. Lots 26 and 27 carry the same estimate of $20,000 and $30,000, and though they both date to the same era, they are of very different natures. The first is a medical journal kept by surgeons aboard the Continental frigate Deane and other vessels. Of the journal, Swann writes, “Primary source material relating to the Continental Navy is scarce. While lists of the army’s officers and enlisted men are readily available, there is no comparable resource for the navy. Ship’s records often sank with their ships, or were cast overboard if in danger of capture.” The lot following the medical journal is a New Hampshire broadside proclamation on the cessation of hostilities. This is the official New Hampshire printing of the act of Congress which ended the war, and it marks a momentous occasion indeed.

 

Moving to the corner opposite the Revolution, two lots from Baja California make up the top 10 items. Both are signed manuscript documents from the late 17th century. Lot 317 is a signed Jesuit profession of faith by Father Eusebio Kino, and Swann notes that no other Kino manuscripts have appeared at auction since a sale at Swann in 1998. This declaration of faith is estimated $10,000 to $15,000. Lot 318 also comes from the Jesuits, but this one is a report on the first 16 months of the California missions written by Father Juan de Ugarte, a man given charge over the first effort to establish a chain of missions on the Baja peninsula. The report was written in 1699, fifteen years after the preceding Kino document, and is estimated $12,000 to $18,000.

 

The remaining five lots of the top 10 are:

-       A first edition of The Book of Mormon (lot 167, est. $10,000 to $15,000)

-       James McClees’ Gallery of Photographic Portraits of the Senators, Representatives & Delegates of the Thirty-Fifth Congress (lot 214, est. $10,000 to $15,000)

-       Manuscript notes on 40 sermons attended at Boston’s First Church and Old South Church (lot 156, est. $8,000 to $12,000).

-       John Taber’s Captain’s journal of a mutinous whaling journey in the South Pacific (lot 292, est. $8,000 to $12,000)

-       The First American Reform Haggadah (lot 138, est. $7,000 to $10,000)

 

A sale of 325 lots doesn’t require much time to skim and browse through, and Swann’s estimates, as they have come to be known for, are always on the reasonable and low side. For collectors of Americana, this is must see material. You can do so right here.

 

Printed & Manuscript Americana is scheduled for 1:30pm Eastern Time on Thursday, September 28th. Previews of the sale will be taking place in New York on the 23rd from 12 to 5pm, on the 25th through 27th from 10am to 6pm, and immediately before the sale from 10am-12pm. Bidding is available live, and through absentee, phone, and internet avenues.