Auctions | April 27, 2022

Early Printed Books at Swann, Featuring Collection of Ken Rapoport

Courtesy of Swann Galleries

Engraved portrait of William Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout, appearing in Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression (1632) offered at Swann Galleries.

New York — Swann Galleries will present Early Printed Books at auction Thursday, May 5. The sale will feature part one of the collection of Ken Rapoport alongside a selection of noteworthy publications, including a book bound for Jean Grolier and works on economics, science, medicine, and travel.

The first part of the complete library of noted bibliophile and collector Ken Rapoport forms the cornerstone of the auction. Over a collecting career of more than fifty years, Rapoport amassed hundreds of sought-after rarities in literature. Inspired chiefly by the works of François Rabelais, Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Molière, the collection includes much in Spanish and English poetry and drama, as well as works that encompass the early chivalric tradition that gave rise to Don Quixote, along with the work of Spanish contemporaries of Cervantes.

Highlights from part one of the collection include the top lot in the sale, Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies, London, 1632 ($100,000-150,000), as well as the first Valencia edition of Cervantes’ El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, 1605 ($80,000-100,000), a sammelband of three works by Edmund Spenser, including The Shepheards Calendar, 1591, The Faerie Queene, 1596, and Colin Clouts Come Home Again, 1595 ($16,000-24,000), and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Woorkes, London, 1561 ($8,000-10,000). Also of note are works by Lancelot du Lac, John Donne, Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga, and translations of Virgil and Homer.

The auction will feature Thucydides’ De Bello Peloponnensium Atheniensiumque Libri VIII, from the library of bibliophile Jean Grolier, bound by the Royal Parisian bookbinder to François I, Étienne Roffet ($30,000-50,000). With the provenance of Lucien Goldschmidt and a letter from Howard Nixon accompanying the volume, the lot presents a rare opportunity to own a book once shared by the famed Grolier with his friends.

Publications on economics will include many first editions by Nobel laureates in the field, a presentation copy of Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, London, 1790 ($3,000-5,000), a first edition of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, Chicago, 1962 ($1,000-1,500), and a run of works by John Maynard Keynes.

Rounding out the sale is a selection of works on science, medicine, travel and manuscripts. Highlights include an Italian Carmelite Breviary from the fifteenth century ($8,000-12,000), an example of German seventeenth-century bookbinding in silver ($3,000-5,000), and John Gerard’s The Herball or General Historie of Plantes, London, 1636 ($3,000-5,000.)

Exhibition hours are 12 p.m to 5 p.m from May 2 through May 4. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and the Swann Galleries App.
The complete lot listing can be found here.