Auctions | April 12, 2012

Collection of Michael Lerner and Modern Lit at Bonhams

NEW YORK—Bonhams is pleased to announce the April 16 Fine Books and Manuscripts auction featuring the Michael Lerner Collection. While this auction prominently features modern literature greats, such as Ernest Hemingway and Allen Ginsburg, this sale's diversity will surely appeal to a wide variety of collectors. With books and maps that document the age of exploration, decorative costume design journals, religious texts, and personal letters from Jonathan Swift, Napoleon and Gandhi, the Bonhams Spring book auction showcases items of incredible quality, rarity, and range.

One auction highlight sure to attract many collectors interested in modern literature, is an advance copy of Allen Ginsberg's Howl (est. $40,000-60,000). This particular copy of the now legendary collection was sent to Alan Ansen, and is inscribed by Ginsberg: "To be published July 30th, 1956—City Lights Bookstore Pocket Poets series Broadway & Columbus Ave. S.F. Cal. U.S.A With introduction by W.C. Williams." This rare mimeographed edition was printed in May of 1956 for merely twenty-five close friends, peers and literary heroes of the famous Beat poet, including Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Lionel Trilling and William Faulkner.
A first limited edition association copy of Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time (est. $30,000-50,000), is another auction highlight of remarkable rarity and literary significance. This particular copy was given to Kate Buss, a fellow American expatriate in Paris, and is inscribed by Hemingway: "For Kate Buss with the best wishes of the Author/ March 1924." Published in March of 1924, Hemingway's first short story collection introduced readers to the author's spare yet powerful language and oblique psychological characterization.

Heralded English poet Siegfried Sassoon's personal copy of his own collection of War Poems (est. $4,000-6,000), is another lot sure to entice collectors of modern literature. This phenomenal association copy was presented to Sassoon's best friend in America, playwright Samuel Behrman, and is heavily annotated by the gifted poet. Sassoon used this copy during his 1920 American lecture tour and his thorough notes include: indications of where and when each poem was written, stress marks that indicate tempo during oration, word transpositions and substitutions and two pages of notes used by Sassoon to guide his commentary on his own work. With hand-inscribed lecture notes like, "waste and brutality are known to all, (but no one thinks of them when a new war is being started)..." his words highlight both his undeniable literary talent and the tragedy of war.

Bonhams is particularly thrilled to offer a lot composed of Mohandas Gandhi's affects (est. $40,000-60,000), including a pair of wooden chappals with rounded toe pegs, a thread fragment from an ashram Gandhi wore, a framed photograph of Gandhi taken on his 60th birthday and a typed letter signed by Indira Gandhi. All these artifacts come from the collection of Franziska Standenath, a scholar of Indian politics and history, who acted as Gandhi's personal assistant. A man of very few possessions, Gandhi's chappals (simple wooden sandals) along with his glasses and walking staff have come to typify his inspirational asceticism and vast historical legacy.

Other highlights include: an eighteen volume costume journal collection featuring over 3,500 hand-colored engravings (est. $30,000-50,000); an autographed letter by Jonathan Swift in which he writes about his Scriblerian peers, his fear of death, and his love of French wine (est. $15,000-25,000); and Oscar Wilde's personal and autographed copy of Charles Stuart Calverley's Fly Leaves (est. $5,000-7,000).