Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Auction Reports: Sotheby's

Sotheby's New York had a sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts yesterday. A few highlights are below. Prices include premiums.

- The 1783 "official proclamation" broadside giving the text of the Treaty of Paris (which officially ended the Revolutionary War) sold for $301,000, much surpassing the presale estimates of $50,000-75,000.

- An autograph letter from Paul Revere to the first librarian of the Boston Athenaeum (12 September 1811) enclosing three copper coins discovered by an American naval officer in northern Africa fetched $28,000.

- The Houghton copy of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) - a first edition presentation copy with an autograph letter tipped in - made $325,000.

- A first edition of Robert Hooke's Micrographia (1665), one of the most impressive books ever printed, in my view, sold for $67,000.

Yesterday was a busy day at Sotheby's; they also had a sale of Voyages and Travels from the Library of David Parsons. Some very interesting titles sold in that auction as well, but I'll mention just a couple of them here:

- A 1620 first edition of Samuel de Champlain's Voyages et descouvertes faites en la Nouvelle France, depuis l'année 1615 iusques à la fin de l'année 1618 (Voyages and Discoveries in New France) made $85,000, just under the high estimate.

- Master Greenville Collins' manuscript account of an early and ill-fated search for the Northwest Passage (1676), which includes a map of the Shetland islands, a sketch of a walrus, and a full account of the Speedwell's voyage, stranding and rescue sold for $157,000, more than twice the estimate.

- A very nice 1626 first edition of Purchas His Pilgrimes, a collection of early travel accounts, sold for $109,000.

And finally, Sotheby's also sold George Washington's Order of the Cincinnati Medal yesterday. The medal was given to the Marquis de Lafayette by Washington's adopted daughter in 1824, and has been in the possession of the Lafayette family ever since. It fetched $5.3 million.

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