December 2010 | Jeremy Dibbell

Auction Report: Tufte Library & Americana @ Christie's

Two important sales at Christie's New York this week:

Yesterday afternoon saw the sale of Beautiful Evidence: The Library of Edward Tufte, in 160 lots. Of those, 127 sold, bringing in a total of $1,817,187. Galileo's Sidereus nuncius (1610) was the highest seller, making $662,500. The rest of the major lots failed to sell; the next-highest seller was Newton's Opticks (1704), which made $60,000.

Today's Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana, in 569 lots, made a grand total of $6,608,688. A good chunk of that was from one lot alone, the New Jersey Historical Society's copy of the famously rare Abel Buell map of the United States (1784). The map was estimated at $500,000-700,000, but that proved way too low: the final price was $2,098,500.

A rare copy of the first printed edition of Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner", estimated at $200,000-300,000, also did much better than expected, fetching $506,500. A copy of Hayden and Moran's 1876 color-plate book The Yellowstone National Park ... sold for $218,500, while an inscribed copy of the first printed edition of the Lincoln-Douglas debates made $182,500. A first edition of Smith's Wealth of Nations made $122,500, and Lewis and Clark's History of the Expedition ...  (1814) sold for $116,500.

Among the Declarations of Independence up today, the 1833 reprint of Stone's facsimile made $20,000 and an 1846 anastatic reproduction copy sold for $35,000).

The Abraham Lincoln manuscript letter to the Army of the Potomac following the debacle at Fredericksburg failed to sell, as did the first British printing of the Declaration of Independence.