Auctions | February 28, 2019

Bonhams to Offer Astonishing Signed First Issue of "Leaves of Grass"

New York — Walt Whitman’s astonishing copy of Leaves of Grass highlights Bonhams sale of Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts on March 12 (estimate: $200,000-300,000). This is the first editition, first issue, and signed by Whitman in block letters on the title page, as it was presented by Whitman to William Linton. Leaves of Grass is the only work of modern literature included in Printing and the Mind of Man--the landmark catalogue of the most influential printed works in history--where it is justly called “America's second Declaration of Independence.”

Very few signed copies of the first edition exist, and this copy, attested to as Whitman's personal cloth-bound copy and called his “working copy” by one of the great collectors of the 20th century is unique among them, not only for its provenance and block-lettered signature, but also for being in the first-state of the binding. The provenance is remarkable: given from Whitman to William James Linton, the noted English artist who engraved Whitman’s portrait for the 1876 edition of Leaves, to Frederick W. Skiff, the great bibiliophile and Americana expert, who then sold this copy and in 1942 to Estelle Doheny, the greatest female book collector of the 20th century.  
Additional highlights include:

Sir Isaac Newton’s copy of John Greaves Pyramidographia, which was published in London 1646 (estimate: $50,000-70,000). This was an important book on measurement from the Library of Isaac Newton - used by Newton in his investigations of gravity. 

The first Western typographical printing of the I-Ching in any language printed in Stuttgart and Tubingen: J.G. Cotta, 1834-1839 (estimate: $40,000-60,000). This is a pristine, uncut copy of a Chinese classic - a cornerstone of both Taoism and Confucianism.

A fascinating archive of artwork and letters from Harper Lee (1926-2016), with an inscribed first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (estimate: $20,000-30,000). The archive includes rare caricutures by the famed author, the first Harper Lee artwork offered at auction - a rare glimpe of the writer pre-Mockingbird, and traverses the years to a searing letter on the monetization of Mockingbird in Monroeville, 1993.