Auctions | October 4, 2019

$173,000 at Swann Galleries for Archive with Connections to Booker T. Washington's Family

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, with more than 2000 items, bulk 1820-65. Sold for $173,000.

New York—The Thursday, September 26 sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Galleries was an overall success with an 88% sell-through rate, bringing in over $1M.

Material relating to slavery & abolition led the sale. The top lot was an important archive of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works in West Virginia: “Because of the massive extent of the institution of slavery, original manuscripts relating to those who were enslaved are not scarce. However, we rarely see a large archive which tells the story of one location and one group of people over time. Most of what does survive is agricultural,” said Rick Stattler, the house’s Book Department Director & Americana Specialist. “The Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works archive is unusual because it documents a large industrial operation which relied on slave labor.  Many dozens of individuals can be traced over the decades through correspondence, lists, and receipts. The plant's numerous connections to Booker T. Washington, who lived near the salt works after abolition, give it even greater historical significance; his stepfather appears several times in the records.” The archive brought $173,000, the top price for an archive in Swann’s history. The lot was immediately followed by the Shugart family papers. Notable for its log listing passengers on the Underground Railroad, it brought $100,000.

The sale opened to a flurry of bidding for a volume of early St. Louis almanacs, including the first issued in the city. After a tense back-and-fourth round of bidding between phones, the lot brought $27,500.

A cache of material from the legendary Western collection of Herbert Auerbach was led by a record $11,050 for the first edition of the Mormon cornerstone Pearl of Great Price, 1815, by Franklin D. Richards. Other notable records included Richard Price’s Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, 1784, at $2,750, and José Rami rez’s Via Lactea, 1698, at $3,750.

Civil War diaries included an eventful Mississippi River naval diary by Samuel Walker that earned $15,000. The beautifully written and illustrated Civil War diary of Adam Reinoehl brought $6,500.

Additional material of note included a small archive of whaling business records of Luther D. Cook from Sag Harbor, New York, which brought $30,000; a three-page printed treasury report by Alexander Hamilton earned $6,750; and William J. Stone’s 1833 Force printing of the Declaration of Independence at $20,000.

The next auction from the Books Department at Swann Galleries will be Fine Books & Manuscripts on October 10. Visit or download the Swann Galleries App for catalogues, bidding and inquiries.