Auctions | February 11, 2021

Frederick Douglass Letter Leads Fine Books & Autographs at Swann

Courtesy of Swann Galleries

Frederick Douglass, Autograph Letter Signed, to Sallie Holley recruiting her for the Frederick Douglass Paper, 1851. Estimate $20,000-30,000

New York — Fine Books & Autographs are on the block at Swann Galleries on Thursday, February 25. The sale will offer a premier selection of manuscripts, documents, correspondence and more by significant figures throughout history and pop culture, as well as rare first editions and art books from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Leading the sale is an 1851 autograph letter signed by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The letter, addressed to Sallie Holley—recruiting her help for the Frederick Douglass Paper after his schism with Garrisonian abolitionism, and the merging of his North Star paper and the Liberty Party Paper—is expected to bring $20,000 to $30,000. Additional pioneers and trailblazers feature Albert Einstein with an autograph manuscript in German, with 11 lines of equations and three lines of text relating to a static field represented by “Killing Vectors” ($10,000-20,000); and Florence Nightingale is on offer with an ALS from 1861 to a Mrs. Fowler attesting to the selfless and devoted character of Miss Jones—superintendent of nurses at St. John’s House ($3,000-4,000).

Americana features a 1780 doctor’s note for a revolutionary soldier declaring them unfit for military duty signed by Benjamin Rush ($2,500-3,500); a partly-printed document signed by Samuel Adams as Governor ordering the Treasurer Thomas Davis to pay funds for prosecuting individuals for counterfeit money ($1,500-2,500); and an 1843 affidavit signed by Joseph Smith for an Isaac P. Chase to appear in court or pay a fine, in relation to the trial of Oliver H. Olney, who had been excommunicated by the Mormon church in 1842, and published The Absurdities of Mormonism Portrayed in 1843 ($8,000-12,000).

A series of autographs from famous Hollywood figures include Charlie Chaplin with a signed and inscribed copy of his book My Trip Abroad with a small ink drawing, to cartoonist Milt Gross from 1925 ($3,500-5,000); a photograph of James Dean mid tennis-table match signed and inscribed by the actor ($7,000-10,000); a watercolor and graphite drawing of Donald Duck signed and inscribed by Walt Disney ($4,000-6,000); and a signed and inscribed photograph of Mae West ($300-400).

Nineteenth and twentieth century literature is on the block with scarce first American editions of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s The History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote, Philadelphia, 1811–12, with only one other copy traced at auction ($3,000-4,000); and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, New York, 1885, in the blue cloth binding ($3,000-4,000). First editions of Ernest Hemingway include the author’s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, Paris, 1923 ($20,000-30,000), and The Sun Also Rises, New York, 1926, available in the original first-issue dust jacket ($3,000-4,000). A signed first collected edition of James Joyce’s Collected Poems, New York, 1936 ($5,000-7,500), and the rarest of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming: a first edition, first state issue of The Man With the Golden Gun, London, 1965, with the golden gun on the front cover ($6,000-9,000).

Also available is a run of works published by the Limited Editions Club. Highlights from the selection include Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, New York, 1993, signed by Balthus, with 15 lithographs ($1,500-2,000); Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, New York, 1935, signed by Alice Hargreaves, the original Alice who inspired the work ($2,500-3,500); Pablo Picasso and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata: A New Version by Gilbert Seldes, New York, 1934, signed by Picasso ($4,000-6,000); and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, New York, 1992, signed by Scully ($2,000-3,000).

Concluding the sale is an offering of art, press and illustrated books. Notable lots include Interaction of Color, New Haven and London, 1963, with 80 color screenprints by Josef Albers ($4,000-6,000); and La Princesse de Babylone, Paris, 1928, by Leonetto Cappiello and Voltaire, signed by Cappiello ($4,000-6,000).

Limited previewing (by appointment only) will be available through February 24, to be scheduled directly with a specialist in advance and conforming to strict safety guidelines. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of material on request. Advance order bids can be placed with the specialist for the sale or on Swann’s website, and phone bidding will be available. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and on the Swann Galleries App.
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