Auctions | February 18, 2021

600 Lots of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Potter & Potter, March 13

Courtesy of Potter & Potter

John James Audubon's three-volume The Quadrupeds of North America from 1854 is estimated at $3,500-5,000.

Chicago — Potter & Potter Auctions is excited to announce its upcoming Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale to be held on Saturday, March 13th, starting at 10am, CDT. Given current regulations, this sale will be streamed live from Potter & Potter's gallery and held on Bids can be placed on the company's website. Phone and absentee bidding are available as well. All lots are available for preview now on Potter & Potter's website.

Courtesy of Potter & Potter

Remarkable antique books spanning multiple centuries hold several of the top lot slots at this can't miss event.

  • Lot #504, a breathtaking copy of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, The Astronomer-Poet of Persia, illustrated by Elihu Vedder and translated by Edward Fitzgerald, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This first deluxe limited edition, number 18 of 100 copies signed by Vedder, was published in 1884 in Boston by Houghton Mifflin and Co. This rarity was produced from the same text block that was used in Sangorski and Sutcliffe’s legendary jeweled binding, The Great Omar, that was bound for America aboard the Titanic.
  • Lot #127, John James Audubon's three volume The Quadrupeds of North America from 1854 is estimated at $3,500-5,000. Published by V.G. Audubon in New York in 1854, this early octavo edition of Audubon’s final work contains 150 hand colored lithographed plates from the 1845–48 folio edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of America, and five of the plates from the rare 1854 supplement of that work.
  • Lot #583, William Shakespeare's Sonnets, printed in Stratford–on–Avon by Shakespeare Head Press, is estimated at $2,000-3,000. This example from 1905 - one of the publisher's earliest editions (the second item on Franklin’s checklist) - is one of only 12 copies printed on vellum, this example being number six.
  • Lot #471, Edmund Spenser's three volume The Faerie Queene, is estimated at $1,200-2,000. It is one of 100 copies printed on handmade paper by J. M. Dent in London in 1897.  It features an epic English poem that was first published in 1590. The book is illustrated with 26 woodcut illustrations, decorative headpieces, initials, and tailpieces designed by Louis Fairfax–Muckley.
  • Lot #366, Austen Henry Layard's Discoveries In The Ruins Of Nineveh And Babylon; With Travels In Armenia, Kurdistan And The Desert; Being The Result Of A Second Expedition Undertaken For The Trustees Of The British Museum, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This fully provenanced first edition presentation copy was published in London by John Murray in 1853 and includes two folding maps, 14 plates (4 folding including frontispiece), and numerous woodcuts in the text.  
  • Lot #318, a handsome example of Sir John Skelton's Charles I, is estimated at $1,200-1,600. This first edition book from 1898 was bound by the Hampstead Bindery, the brother organization to the Guild of Women–Binders. Inside, it features a color printed frontispiece, hand coloring, and 42 plates and vignettes with captioned tissue guards. The book's exterior comes to life with art nouveau embossing, gilt pointillism patterns, raised bands, gilt titles and flower heads, and watered silk moiré endpapers.

This event also includes remarkable selections of well-known first edition books or presentation copies, with some signed by their authors.

  • Lot #1, a first edition, first printing of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. Published in 1939 in New York by Alfred A. Knopf, this example includes its original unclipped dust jacket and cloth slipcase. The Big Sleep introduced Chandler's wise-cracking private eye detective Philip Marlowe, redefined the noir genre, and became the basis for the 1946 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
  • Lot #2, two copies of Farewell My Lovely, also by Raymond Chandler, is estimated at $3,200-4,000. One is a first edition, first printing (one of 7,500) and the other is an advanced reading copy. This legendary tome is the author’s second novel that again features the hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe.
  • Lot #480, a first edition, first printing of Harriet Beecher Stowe's two volume Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly, is estimated at $3,500-5,000. It was published in 1852 in Boston by John P. Jewett & Co. This treasure retains its cloth slipcase and comes with an autographed noted by Stowe. 3,000 copies of this book were sold on its day of its publication, and before its first anniversary, 300,000 copies were sold. On a basis of proportionate population, this would be the equivalent 1,500,000+ copies today.
  • Lot #382, a first edition, first issue of Jack London's The Call of the Wild with its original dust jacket, is estimated at $3,000-5,000. It was published in New York by The Macmillan Company in 1903. This is one of the most desirable classics in American literature and “one of the first American novels to examine the quest of the pioneering individual who breaks away from the sheltered environment of civilization and is romantically compelled to find freedom in nature. In the early part of the century this was considered the American dream.” (Parker, 16).
  • Lot #96, a first edition, first issue of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, is estimated at $3,000-4,000. It was published in London in 1902 by George Newnes. It is housed in an attractive, full plum Levant clamshell box with gilt titling. Possibly a presentation copy, this example of one of the best-known Sherlock Holmes novels was based on an English legend told to Doyle by a journalist friend, Bertram Fletcher Robinson.
  • Lot #251, a first edition, first printing of David Cornwell's (AKA John Le Carré) The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, is estimated at $1,000-1,500. It was published in London in 1963 by Victor Gollancz Ltd. and retains its original unclipped dust jacket. This book is the author's third novel and the first publication to win both the Gold Dagger and the Edgar Award.
  • Lot #157, a first edition, first copy of Ray Bradbury's Dark Carnival, is estimated at $1,000-1,500. It was published in Sauk City, Wisconsin by Arkham House in 1947. It retains its original unclipped dust jacket. This presentation copy is twice inscribed by the author to William Targ, G. P. Putnam’s former editor–in–chief who is best known for publishing Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.   
  • Lot #301, a copy of George Moore's The Brook Kerith: A Syrian Story, illustrated by Stephen Gooden, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. It includes 12 proof engravings by Gooden, all signed and dated by the artist for the 1929 Heinemann edition of 350 copies. This example is Gooden’s copy presented to him by the author with the inscription: “This copy of ‘The Brook Kerith’ was given [to] me by George Moore so as to have a copy to read while I was illustrating it. Stephen Gooden”.  

Also on offer are a museum quality selection of important letters from some of the most important and influential personalities of the 20th century.

  • Lot #275, a typed signed letter from Albert Einstein to Mr. Sol Stein, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. Dated March 10, 1954 and sent from Princeton, NJ, this one page note, written in English on embossed personal stationery, addresses the question, “What do you think about the nature of Communism and what are the best methods of combatting its influence?” Einstein responds in part: “I am unable to connect a clear meaning with the expression ‘the nature of Communism’. I know, however, quite well that the Communist Party has made use of methods which contributed considerably to the creation of the atmosphere of mutual distrust so characteristic for our present situation in public life. A democracy has one effective tool to counteract harmful influences of any kind, namely enlightenment through free and objective discussion of all problems concerning the public interest. This is a powerful tool, always effective and the only one a democracy has at its disposal."
  • Lot #529, a typed signed letter from novelist James Baldwin including an unpublished essay and literary critique, is estimated at $2,000-3,000. This note, dated Mach 1956, is postmarked from Paris, is written on rice paper, and includes its original envelope. It was penned during the publication of Giovanni’s Room, and addresses many facets of the cultural and socio-economic hardships and realities faced by African Americans in early postwar America.
  • Lot #29, a two paged, autographed signed letter from author Dashiell Hammett to Prudence Whitfield, is estimated at $1,500-2,500. It is written in pencil on lined paper and is dated January 15, 1945. In this note, Hammett writes to Whitfield, a fellow “Black Mask” writer, one of Hammett’s closest friends, and possibly a former lover, reflecting on his World War II experience in the Aleutians.

Artwork, posters, archives, and artists books bring this extraordinary sale full circle.

  • Lot #587, an important limited edition artist book with collaborations between four of the most influential American poets of the second half of the twentieth century, and four important second-generation New York School artists, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. Published by Tiber Press in 1960, each volume in this four part collection is signed by the poet and artist. Contributors include John Ashbery's The Poems, with prints by Joan Mitchell; Kenneth Koch's Permanently, with prints by Alfred Leslie; Frank O'Hara's Odes, with prints by Michael Goldberg; and James Schuyler's Salute, with prints by Grace Hartigan.  
  • Lot #617, an etching and drypoint work by Harmenszoon Van Rijn Rembrandt, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. It pictures Jan Uytenbogaert, Preacher of the Remonstrants, and is from 1635. This was Rembrandt's first official commission for an etched portrait. It is framed and includes its original Rembrandt Exhibit Catalogue list from May 1989 with prices.
  • Lot #534, a black and white pictorial printed placard for the MLK Jr. March for Freedom Now! event in Chicago is estimated at $3,000-5,000. On July 25, 1960, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists led a march to the Republication National Convention to present civil rights demands to the presidential candidate, Richard Nixon, and the greater Republican Party. This is only the second known copy in existence and the third time appearing at auction– twice being with Potter & Potter.
  • •    Lot #83, a massive archive of over 400 midcentury mugshots of gamblers from the Philadelphia area, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. These mostly feature males in their 60s, including many African Americans. Each is fixed to typed identification cards; the collection is housed in a three ring binder.

According to Christopher Brink, Fine Book Specialist at Potter & Potter Auctions, "This is one of the most important book sales that we have had the pleasure of curating and we are very excited about the quality and scarcity of the items that we're bringing to the market."