Friday, December 04, 2009

Auction Report: Fine Printed Books &c. @ Christie's

Washington letter sets record, see below!

The afternoon session at Christie's, a sale of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana, got underway at 2 p.m.

A first edition of Robert Burns' first book, Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, made $52,500. A first edition of Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, in original boards, did better than expected, selling for $20,000. A first edition of John Donne's works (1633) made $30,000, as did Donne's copy of Nicholas Serrario's Rabbini, et herodes. A first edition in book form of Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge fetched $21,250 (bettering the estimates of $5,000-7,000). A presentation copy of Hardy's Jude the Obscure also did well, making $35,000. A copy of Thomas de Gray's The Compleat Horse-Man, given by Hawthorne to Melville, made $32,500. A first edition of Hemingway's Three Stories & Ten Poems made $30,000.

The signed limited edition of Ulysses and Nabokov's manuscript index cards for The Original of Laura didn't sell. Cormac McCarthy's typewriter fetched $254,500; a limited edition of Milne's Winnie the Pooh made $32,500. An archive of Georgia O'Keeffe letters made $52,500. A first edition in parts of Thackeray's Vanity Fair made $17,500 (better than the $2,000-3,000 estimate), and a very fine first printing of Thoreau's Walden made $20,000 (doubling its estimate).

An Audubon first octavo Birds of America made $62,500, while the second folio Birds sold for $194,500. The set of Curtis' The North American Indian and the presentation copy of Darwin's Origin each sold for $170,500. A Frederick de Wit atlas made $56,250, and a Joannes Janssonius Atlas novus sold for $86,500. A copy of Ethan Allen's Reason, the only Oracle of Man sold for $21,250, and a broadside from 1 December 1773 relating to what would become the Boston Tea Party made $52,500. The 1823 Stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence didn't sell, but an 1833 reprint made $30,000. A rare c. 1784 Bank of New York broadside did much better than expected, selling for $146,500 (est. $15,000-20,000).

The first two Washington letters, Lots 255 & 256 each sold for $218,500, while the big guns of the day, Washington's letter regarding the ratification of the Constitution, did even better than anticipated, selling for a whopping $3,218,500. That smashes the previous record of $834,500 set in 2002.

The total for the sale was $6,330,138. Quite a day!

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