Auctions | October 28, 2015

Complete Copy of Audubon <i>Quadrupeds of North America</i> Leads Skinner&#8217;s Sale on November 15


Boston, MA—October 23, 2015—Skinner, Inc. will present a Fine Books & Manuscripts auction as part of Boston’s traditional fall calendar of rare book events. The 39th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Hynes Convention Center runs during the weekend of November 13-15, and the Skinner auction of over four hundred historical and literary documents, fine and rare books, prints, and maps commences on Sunday, November 15th, at 10 a.m. This sale, like those that have come before it, will include many rarities and finds that collectors and dealers prize and covet.

James J. Audubon Lithographs

The featured lot of the auction is a complete copy of James J. Audubon’s Quadrupeds of North America (Lot 93, Estimated between $200,000 and $300,000), the imperial folio edition, illustrated with 150 hand-colored lithographs of the mammals of the continent. These prints are well known to collectors, as they have been collected, framed, and displayed since they were new, over 160 years ago. Complete collections in the original bound volumes are increasingly rare and are prized because the prints are preserved in pristine condition, protected as they are from the elements within the closed books. The sale of this set will benefit an independent Audubon Society.

The auction also will feature two copies of the smaller-format octavo set of the Quadrupeds (Lots 91 and 92, $4,000 to $6,000 and $3,000 to $5,000 respectively), and several dozen separate folio prints. Audubon birds will also be represented; among the highlights are double-elephant folio prints of the Great Horned Owl (Lot 342, $10,000 to $12,000), Ivory Billed Woodpecker (Lot 345, $8,000 to $10,000), two sets of the octavo Birds of America (Lots 96 and 97, $30,000 to $35,000 and $10,000 to $12,000 respectively), and a complete set of the Abbeville facsimile (Lot 95, $6,000 to $8,000).

John F. Kennedy Memorabilia

Of local interest, the sale will also include a number of typed commencement addresses delivered by John F. Kennedy in 1956 with his handwritten notes and corrections. The junior Senator from Massachusetts received honorary degrees from Harvard, Boston College, and Springfield College that spring, and this sale will feature the academic hoods worn on those occasions, along with the speeches. (Lots 44 and 46-48) Also of interest are a group of slides from the Kennedy administration, including images of Kennedy’s funeral and the dawn of the Johnson era (Lot 45, $3,000 to $4,000).

American History 

The sale also includes a strong selection of documents relating to American history, including manuscript receipts signed by George Washington (Lot 76, $4,000 to $6,000) and Martha Washington (Lot 78, $4,000 to $6,000), two important Revolutionary War maps (Lots 403 and 404, $4,000 to $6,000 and $6,000 to $8,000 respectively); the first appearance in pamphlet form of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (Lot 227, $4,000 to $6,000); and a menu signed by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt and all of their generals during a pivotal pre-war meeting held on board the Augusta in 1941 (Lot 13, $20,000 to $25,000).

Other Auction Highlights

High spots of Literature in the auction will include a copy of Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio (Lot 287, $40,000 - $60,000); Hakluyt’s Principall Voyages from 1589 (Lot 193, $15,000 to $20,000); an original manuscript page from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, The Island (Lot 9, $12,000 to $18,000); a first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (Lot 314, $30,000 to $40,000) and signed copies of Black Beauty (Lot 286, $8,000 to $12,000), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lot 141, $3,000 to $5,000), and Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Benjamin Bunny (Lot 265, $5,000 to $7,000).

Documents signed by Charles Darwin, Harry Houdini, Queen Mary I of England, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Henri Matisse, Abraham Lincoln, John Hancock, H.L. Mencken, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Napoleon, Babe Ruth, Elizabeth I of England, Walt Whitman and others will also cross the block.

Previews, Catalog, Events, and Bidding 

Previews for the auction will be held at Skinner’s Boston gallery on Thursday, November 12, from noon to 5 PM; Friday, November 13, from 10AM to 7PM; Saturday, November 14, from 10AM to 4PM; and Sunday, November 15, from 9AM to 9:30AM. Illustrated Catalog #2865B is available from the Subscription Department, at 508-970-3240, or from the Gallery. Prices realized will be available online, at, both during and after the sale. The Skinner website enables users to view every lot in the auction, leave bids, order catalogs and bid live, in real-time, through SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare.

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, and offices in New York City and in Miami, Florida. Bidders participate in person, by phone, and online; join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.