Rare Books &c. at Auction This Week
Before I preview what's coming up in the salerooms this week, just a few notable results from last week. At Bonhams, the Jesse James letter sold for $212,575, the Jane Austen letter set a new record for an Austen letter at $200,075, and the top lot proved to be that lovely unpublished manuscript maquette for Christopher Webb Smith's Indian Ornithology, which sold for $275,075 over estimates of $50,000–80,000. At Swann, the copy of Newton's Opticks reached $40,000. The Christie's sale realized a total of $3,367,250, with the surprise lots of the sale: a March 25, 1792 letter from Alexander Hamilton to the president of the Bank of New York made $162,500 over estimates of $8,000–12,000; a copy of John Forbes Nash's doctoral thesis, estimated at $3,000–5,000, fetched $137,500.
On Tuesday, October 29, Christie's London sells Topographical Pictures including Selections from the Kelton Collection, in 110 lots. Three oil paintings, field studies by artist William Hodges painted in Tahiti during Cook's second voyage, are expected to lead the sale, but there are some important books on offer, including a first issue of Alexander Shaw's Catalogue of the Different Specimens of Cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook (1787), estimated at £70,000–100,000.
Bonhams Edinburgh holds The Sporting Sale at on Thursday, October 31. Among the books and manuscripts included are Abel Chapman's manuscripts for his books Wild Norway and Spring-notes in Norway (£3,000–4,000) and a set of William Lewin's Birds of Great Britain with their Eggs (£1,500–2,000).
Also on Thursday Forum Auctions holds another of their online sales of Books and Works on Paper, in 200 lots. Top-estimated lots include Bligh's account of the Bounty mutiny (£750–1,000) and a 1579 London edition of Plutarch's Lives (£600–800).
On November 2, Heritage Auctions holds a Lincoln and His Times Americana & Political Signature Auction. The 521 lots include an 1858 Abraham Lincoln letter to Henry Asbury sent during the senatorial campaign of that year, previously in the collection of Malcolm Forbes, Jr. The letter has an opening bid of $100,000. A large 1864 Lincoln-Johnson campaign poster is bid up to $67,500 at time of writing.