Last Week at Auction
There's not much going on in the auction rooms this week, but plenty of fascinating things happened last week that are very much worth a recap.
At the Swann Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books sale on Tuesday, an 1840 Hawaiian-language school geography printed at the Lahainaluna Seminary, He Mau Palapala Aina A Me Na Niele No Ka Hoikehonua, was the top lot, selling for $68,750 (over estimates of just $2,500–3,500). The book's maps were engraved by George Luther Kapeau, a seminary student who later became governor of Hawaii. A large Currier & Ives lithograph, "The Mississippi in Time of Peace" (1865) sold for $21,250, more than doubling its presale estimate.
A rare copy of the third issue of the first California newspaper, Californian (August 29, 1846) sold for $10,200 on Thursday at the PBA Galleries Americana sale; it had been estimated at $2,000–3,000. A copy of Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, written by himself, published in New York in 1849, sold for $8,400 over estimates of $300–500.
The Sotheby's New York History of Science and Technology sale on Tuesday realized $2,492,000. Biologist Ernst Mayr's copy of the first edition of Darwin's Origin sold for $175,000, and an operational four-rotor Enigma machine seized from Nazi troops at Trondheim in 1945 sold for $800,000. This is a world record for an Enigma machine at auction. An original Apple Computer, Inc. neon sign sold for $81,250 (it had been estimated at $10,000–15,000).
Audubon's Birds of America sold for $6,642,400 on Wednesday afternoon to Graham Arader.
Prior to the Audubon sale on Wednesday Sotheby's held a Fine Books and Manuscripts sale, which made a total of $11,094,875. Much of that total came from Pierre de Coubertin's "Olympic Manifesto," which sold for $8,806,500; this is a new world record for any sports memorabilia at auction. The buyer has not been announced.
Poe also sold well this week: the Prescott-Manney copy of Poe's The Raven and Other Poems made $312,500, and a copy of the 1831 Poems in a presentation binding and inscribed by Poe to his friend John Neal sold for $81,250.
Looking forward to what treats 2020 brings -- happy holidays to all!