Saturday, May 21, 2011

Auction Report: Recent Sales

Okay, where to begin? The 18 May Sotheby's Paris sale of Books and Manuscripts brought in a total of €2,022,300; full results are here. The Robespierre and Philippe le Bas papers were pre-empted by the Archives Nationales de France, for a combined bid of €979,500; a news release reports "tumultuous applause" when the documents were saved for the nation. Marcel Pagnol and Jean Cocteau manuscripts were also pre-empted, by the BNF and Paris History Library respectively.

Andy Warhol's 1¢ Life (1964) fetched €108,750, while the typescript copy of Le Petit Prince(1943) brought in €70,350.

The Printed & Manuscript Americana sale at Christie's New York on 19 May brought in $1,103,125, with 159 of 210 lots selling. The top lot ended up being a collection of Jackie Kennedy Onassis letters, which sold for $134,500. The Peter Force Declaration of Independence made $17,500. The Breeden-Raedt aende Vereenichde Nederlandsche Provintien and Franklin's copy of Dryden and Lee's Oedipus (1735) did not sell.

The Sanford B. Dole family archive archive of letters and clippings made $9,000 at PBA Galleries on 19 May.

And now on to yesterday's event: the third round of Copley sales at Sotheby's New York. The third selection of American Historical Documents brought in a total of $2,472,258; full results are here. Many of the top-estimated lots didn't meet their reserves: the Dwight Eisenhower letters to his wife Mamie, as well as the archives of material relating to John Charles Frémont, the 1865 Hampton Roads peace conference, the assassination of President Garfield and the trial of Charles Guiteau all failed to sell, as did the first edition of The Federalist (New York: 1788) in contemporary boards.

Washington's letter to Nathaniel Gorham celebrating the ratification of the Constitution did better than expected, selling for $182,500, and the Lincoln letter to the House of Representatives from May 1864 made $68,500. Three copybooks kept by Tobias Lear during his time as U.S. Consul at Algiers fetched $80,500.

Last but certainly not least came the two John Lansing notebooks from the Constitutional Convention, which ended up selling for $902,500 once premiums are factored in. I was watching the sale online, and the buyer appeared to be in the room, but no word has yet come through on the identity of the notebooks' new owner.

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