News | February 28, 2023

Edgar Allan Poe Letter Sold for $69,675

Bonhams Skinner

A letter written by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was the sale’s top lot

Bonhams Skinner’s latest Fine Books & Rare Manuscripts auction was led by a 182-lot single-owner collection of historical documents and autographs with an emphasis on American history.

All the U.S. presidents from George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt were included as well as prominent literary figures such as Edgar Allan Poe and Lord Byron, signers of the Declaration of Independence, European political figures such as Napoleon and Lord Nelson, and musicians such as Franz Liszt and Gioachino Rossini. The collection was begun by a Boston businessman in the 1860s and continued by his son through the 1930s.
Highlights of the January 23 – February 2 sale include:

* a letter written by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was the sale’s top lot selling for $69,675, driven by its rarity and the ongoing appeal and canonical status of the master of horror

* a George Washington (1732-1799) letter dated 1755 and written to an early love interest of the future President made $28,050, more than double its estimate

* a letter from Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) went for $38,175, and one written by Lord Byron (1788-1824) brought $14,025, both letters achieving seven times their estimate.
Among other results from the books category were:

  • a copy of the first English translation of the Bhagavad Gita by Charles Wilkins (1749-1836) achieved $25,500, more than 20 times its high estimate
  • the 1906-1910 Doves Press edition of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s (1749-1832) Faust brought $14,025, fourteen times its estimate. This two-volume set, printed in red and black inks and bound in dark-blue leather with elaborate gilt decoration, was appealing mainly on account of its importance in the history of fine printing and binding and its impeccable condition
  • A first edition of Ian Fleming’s (1908-1964) debut James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953), sold for $4,080. The title was issued in a very small print run of 4,720 ensuring that it is now rare in any condition