Rare Books &c. at Auction This Week

A trio of sales to kick off the new month:

On Wednesday, May 1, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sells Fine Books and Manuscripts, in 654 lots. Expected top lots include one of just four examples known of Martha Washington using her "free frank" postage privilege, on an October 1800 letter from Tobias Lear to cancel a newspaper subscription ($30,000-40,000); the 1909 certificate of incorporation for the Wright Company, signed by both Orville and Wilbur ($20,000-30,000); the first printed edition of Alhazen's Opticae thesaurus (Basel, 1572), estimated at $18,000-25,000; and a 1908 photograph of the first hour-long airplane flight, signed by both Orville and Wilbur Wright ($8,000-12,000).

Wright Bros. Photo
                               Courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

At PBA Galleries on Thursday, May 2, Rare Americana, including California & the West, in 455 lots. Sharing the high estimate at $30,000-50,000 are a copy of the Taber Photographic Album of Principal Business Houses, Residences and Persons (San Francisco, 1889), with 110 mounted photographs; and the 1843-1844 expense ledger of William Alexander Leidesdorff. At $15,000-25,000 we find an 1846 third edition of Henry Tanner's map of Mexico and a copy of the 1858 Selma first edition of Reid's Tramp, an account of John C. Reid's travels through the American southwest. Lots 419-455 are being sold without reserve.

Also on Thursday, Forum Auctions holds a 193-lot online sale of Books and Works on Paper. René-Primevère Lesson's three volumes on hummingbirds (1829-1833) rate the top estimate, at £1,500-2,000. An 1803 James Gillray etching, "The Hand-Writing Upon the Wall," is estimated at £600-800. An unrecorded Book of Common Prayer, dated 1666 and perhaps a piracy published for the Irish market, could sell for £600-800. A collection of Thomas Chatterton volumes from the library of Stuart Schimmel is estimated at £500-700.