Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2015 Issue

Sotheby’s Fine Books and Manuscripts on 19 June in New York

Most, if not all, auction houses have general and subject sales.  A subject sale has one or more focus; general sales include material across a spectrum of categories and subjects.  Subject sales excite more interest but occasionally general sales shift into a higher gear to focus on high points.  In the upcoming Sotheby’s sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts we have a general sale with many of the highest points in the printed works pantheon.

 

Here is how Sotheby’s briefly describes the sale:

 

Our 19 June sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana will feature incunabula from the Jewish Theological Seminary, including a complete Book of Esther from the Gutenberg Bible, 1455. Americana includes a very fine contemporary broadside of the Declaration of Independence, a rare first book printing of the Declaration and a very desirable copy of Williams’s Bloudy Tenent, 1644, the first copy to appear on the market since 1984. Other highlights are Edwin Booth’s copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio, 1632, and a collection of 5 original gouaches by Bemelmans for his Madeleine series.

 

As sales go it’s a small sale.  Merely 151 lots but the numbers quickly explode.  Twelve lots have high estimates of at least $100,000 that together total $4,910,000.  The first lot is 8 leaves comprising the entire Book of Esther from the Gutenberg Bible with a high estimate of $700,000.  Other religious lots dominate the first part of the sale.  At lot 40 we have the opportunity to invest in a first edition of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.  It’s a good book, actually 3 volumes, with a high estimate of $120,000.

 

In this kind of company it’s impossible to leave Shakespeare out.  Unfortunately his entry is an association copy of a great book forever connected indirectly to the type of character the man himself might have described as “O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain.”  This is lot 85, Edwin Booth’s copy of a 1632 Second Folio.  His brother was John Wilkes Booth.

 

Number 99 is a sammelband relating to the American Revolution including the first book printing of the Declaration of Independence.  The high estimate is $500,000.

 

For they who have not yet spent their money lot 100 will test your means and your desires.  It is the king, queen and prince of the sale, a very early printing of the Declaration of Independence for Massachusetts.  The high estimate is $2,000,000.

 

One cannot have a serious sale and fail to include Benjamin Franklin.  His entry, lot 105, is a letter he wrote in 1787 to a dear friend – detailing the thus and sundries of revolutionary and everyday life.  The high estimate is $120,000.

 

Of course, where Franklin goes, Jefferson is sure to follow.  Lot 117 is estimated to a high of $120,000.  It’s his signed personal copy of the 1791 first edition of the United States Census.

 

Washington weighs in with lots 144 and 145, both of which breach the $100,000 level.  Washington’s hand is child-like but his written documents bring significant money.

 

The last of the lots estimated to reach $100,000 is Roger Williams’ The Bloudy Tenent, lot 150 and printed in Cambridge in 1644.  This is very early, one of the first books printed in British America.  

 

There is of course much more.  Greta Garbo is the subject of lot 48, lot 77 Louis Pasteur on the subject of rabies and lot 124 a signed carte-de-visite photograph of Lincoln.  But these lots and more than 130 others are left flailing in the shallow water, they all solid, noteworthy and serious but not quite reaching the six figure level.  You can of course change this.  There are many serious candidates.

 

Here is a link to the sale.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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