Saturday, September 17, 2011

Auction Report: 1-15 September

- PBA's Rare Books & Manuscripts sale on 8 September saw the archive of letters and documents from the family of Benjamin O’Fallon sell by private treaty prior to the sale (a very good thing). Of the 136 remaining lots, just 82 founds buyers. The only lot among the expected high spots which made a price approaching its estimate was the first octavo edition of McKenney and Hall, which made $14,400. The first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in a fine binding sold for $6,600. A manuscript Koran from ~1796 was the surprise top seller, fetching $18,000.

- At Bloomsbury's Conjuring & Circus: Books, Prints, Posters and Apparatus sale on 8 September, the top sellers were a set of plated silver cups which originally belonged to famous 19th-century magician Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser; and an 1882 painting of a tavern featuring a conjurer doing tricks. Both made £10,000.

- Heritage Auctions Historical Manuscripts sale made a total of $995,959.81, with the military archive of Henry Burbeck fetching the highest price: $113,525. The John Adams letter to John Jay failed to find a buyer [Update: Joe Fay from Heritage writes to say the letter was withdrawn prior to the sale], as did the 9 May 1754 "Join, or die" Pennsylvania Gazette (which, as of this morning, you can "Buy now" for $59,750 - not a bad deal, actually). The Rare Books sale brought in a total of $889,753.23, with Galileo's Dialogo (1632) at the top of the list; it sold for $65,725. A presentation copy of Darwin's The Different Forms of Flowers (1877) and the first edition Book of Mormon both sold for $48,800. The Aitken Bible didn't sell.

- Watch for my full report on the Swann Galleries sale of the first part of Eric Caren's How History Unfolds on Paper collection in the fall Fine Books & Collections. The sale was held on on 15 September, and saw 300 of 355 lots sell. Charles II's commission to Edmund Andros to take possession of New York sold for $120,000; a rare first American broadside copy of the famous diagram of the slave ship Brooks made $14,400; a copy of William Hubbard's A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England (1677) fetched $24,000 and two fragments of what may be the first printing job done in New York did not sell. An 1866 baseball scorecard made $36,000.

- Also on 15 September, Bloomsbury held a Bibliophile Sale, in 417 lots. Full results (with no lot making more than £1,200).

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