June 2013 | Rebecca Rego Barry

$1.2 Million for 7 Books from George Washington's Library

Yesterday Sotheby's New York sold a lot of seven signed books from George Washington's library at Mount Vernon--according to the auctioneer, the largest number of volumes signed by the first president to be seen at auction since 1904. The total price for these seven rarities: $1.2 million.

Sotheby's-Washington.jpgThe lot contained the following books: volume III of Oliver Goldsmith's An History of the Earth (second edition, 1779), bearing Washington's armorial bookplate; volume VII of the same, also with bookplate; Jonathan Swift's The Beauties of Swift (1782) also bearing his engraved armorial bookplate; volume III of Alain-Rene Le Sage's The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane (sixth edition, [1785]) signed; volume IV of the same, also signed; Voyages de M. de Chastellux's dans l'Amerique septentrionale... (1786) in two volumes, signed; and Joseph Priestley's Discourses Relating to the Evidences of Revealed Religion...(1796), signed.

The books were part of a larger 250-lot sale of the Library of a Distinguished American Book Collector that included many literary and historical high spots. The sale realized $4.9 million in total. The top lots include: an association copy of the rare first edition of Thomas Paine's Common Sense for $545,000; a first edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations for $173,000; a fine, unsophisticated first edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species for $209,000; and A Narrative, of the Excursion and Ravages of the King's Troops Under the Command of General Gage on the nineteenth of April, 1775, the first book published in Worcester by patriot-printer, Isaiah Thomas, for $149,000.  

Image via Sotheby's.com.