Thursday, March 13, 2008

Auction Report: Sotheby's

The eleventh portion (English books and manuscripts) of the sale of the Earl of Macclesfield's library was held in two sessions today at Sotheby's in London. The first session realized 1.269 million GBP total (the results of the second session will be out fairly soon). Prices include buyer's premium.

Scoring big in the morning session, as expected, was John Eliot's Indian Grammar Begun (1666), the first copy at auction in at least a century. Sotheby's had estimated the Grammar at 70,000-100,000 GBP; it sold for 288,500 GBP. Another big seller was a collection of four tracts on early America, including the first account of New York printed in English, two of the first guides to Virginia settlers, and Francis Higginson's New Englands Plantation (1630). That also beat its estimate, hammering down at 150,500 GBP.

The little Indian Primer (Boston: Bartholomew Green, 1720), a little book of parallel English and Wampanoag texts, much surpassed its high estimate of 15,000 GBP, making 82,100 GBP.

More on the afternoon session as the prices come in.

[Update: the second session has now finished up; the total tally for both sessions was 2.321 million GBP. Manuscripts were the highlight in the afternoon: a collection of Henry Morgan documents pertaining to the sack of Panama made 132,500 GBP (better than quadrupling its estimate) and a sailor's journal from a 1697/8 voyage to China fetched 156,500 GBP (triple its estimate). And continuing the high prices from earlier in the day, a copy of Roger Williams' Key Into the Language of America (1643) beat estimates, selling for 38,900 GBP. If I get any word on buyers, I'll add another update.]

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