A Sale of Literary Importance

Potter & Potter Auctions’ March sale will include a wide range of significant books and letters.
Courtesy of Potter & Potter

Syr Ysambrace, edited by F. S. Ellis, with full-page woodcuts from Edward Burne-Jones (1897, estimated at $1,200–2,000).

On March 13, Potter & Potter Auctions will host its first rare book auction of 2021, which it has dubbed “A Sale of Literary Importance.”

“The main focus of the sale will be on literary titles, both modern and early,” said Christopher Brink, director of the Fine Book department. “The sale will commence with a strong selection of hard-boiled fiction and crime items.”

One of the main highlights of this portion of the sale is a first edition of iconic crime writer Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1939, estimated $4,000–6,000), which introduces his wise-cracking protagonist, Philip Marlowe, who Brink says “redefined the noir genre.”

Courtesy of Potter & Potter

Sir John Skelton’s Charles I in a Hampstead Bindery binding (1898, estimated $1,200–1,600).

Also in the detective portion of the sale are several Arthur Conan Doyle items, including all major works relating to Sherlock Holmes and a fine set signed by the author, as well as an autograph letter by Dashiell Hammett written in the Aleutians in 1945 (estimated $1,500–2,500).

There will also be an important collection of letters including an undocumented autograph letter signed by James Baldwin with an unpublished essay (estimated $2,000–3,000), which will be highlighted in the Civil Rights section, and an autograph letter signed by Albert Einstein regarding the Communist Party and the state of democracy (estimated $4,000–6,000).

Additionally, the sale will contain a strong selection of modern first editions, including a substantial Edgar Rice Burroughs collection, which features several presentation copies from the author to his brother–in–law, Eddie Gilbert. Brink says one of his personal favorites from this section is a “pristine copy of The Call of the Wild in the scarce original dust jacket” (estimated $3,000–5,000).

Finally, several other high spots of the sale include an artful binding of Sir John Skelton’s Charles I from the Hampstead Bindery (1898, estimated $1,200–1,600) ; a first issue of Uncle Tom’s Cabin with an autograph note signed by author Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852, estimated $3,500–5,000); a copy of William Shakespeare’s sonnets from the Shakespeare Head Press printed on full vellum and limited to just 12 copies (1905, estimated $2,000–3,000), and Syr Ysambrace, edited by F.S. Ellis, (1897, estimated at $1,200–2,000) from the Kelmscott Press highlight in Potter & Potter’s Fine Press section; and a presentation copy of Ray Bradbury’s first novel, Dark Carnival, inscribed to William Targ, G. P. Putnam’s former editor–in–chief (estimated $1,000–1,500).

Previews are available by appointment only. The sale will be conducted online, but the platform will include a video livestream of the sale.

“This past year has really proven that we have solidified ourselves in the Midwest as a predominant auction house known for its fine book sales,” Brink said. “This is probably the most important sale I’ve had the pleasure of curating, and we’re very excited about the quality and scarcity of the items we’re bringing to the market.”

View the catalog.