Auctions | May 27, 2021

Freeman’s Books & Manuscripts Auction Achieves $525,861

Courtesty of Freeman's

Poor Richard, 1736. An Almanack For the Year of Christ 1736… sold for $17,640, one of several Benjamin Franklin lots to command impressive prices.

Philadelphia — Freeman’s is pleased to announce the results of our May 20 Books and Manuscripts auction, which featured a 98% sell-through rate and impressive sales of Pennsylvania material, WWII posters, rare editions, and more. The 131-lot auction achieved $525,861 in total, surpassing its pre-sale estimate.

“The forty poster lots performed exceptionally well, as did the selection of Benjamin Franklin material—it’s clear that Philadelphia material is near and dear to our buyers. We are thrilled on behalf of those consignors,” says Darren Winston, Head of Books and Manuscripts. “This was the first auction of my own department that I called as a new auctioneer, and for the first time I felt the great responsibility that I have to buyers, consignors, and colleagues, because I was involved in every step of the process.”


Lively bidding between phone and online bidders resulted in sale prices that far surpassed lots’ pre-sale estimates; John Gould’s Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans, for example, doubled its pre-sale high estimate to achieve $63,000 after back-and-forth bidding (Lot 119; estimate: $20,000-30,000). Another avian lot, John James Audubon’s Birds of America… sold for $37,800, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $20,000-30,000 (Lot 115). Lot 3, a military history of Ulysses S. Grant, elicited significant interest from bidders, selling for $25,200 (estimate: $3,000-5,000). Says Winston, “We were conservative in our estimate of this significant Civil War material, and it was a pleasant surprise that it did so well—I am thrilled for the consignors.”

Courtesy of Freeman's


Befitting Philadelphia’s auction house, Freeman’s presents outstanding sales of a suite of books printed by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. A number of lots kicked off the auction with competitive bidding, including rare Poor Richard almanacs, all of which well outperformed their pre-sale high estimates. Poor Richard, 1736. An Almanack For the Year of Christ 1736…(Lot 10; estimate: $3,000-5,000) sold for an impressive $17,640, as did Poor Richard Improved…(Lot 12; estimate: $5,000-8,000). Lot 11, A Pocket Almanack For the Year 1761, achieved $10,080 (estimate: $5,000-8,000). A copy of Cato Major, or his Discourse of Old-age: With Explanatory Notes, sold for $11,970 (Lot 5; estimate: $5,000-8,000). These impressive results underscore Freeman’s pride of place in presenting Philadelphia-related material.


A series of lots by canonical authors achieved back-to-back high results, beginning with a handsome first edition of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden: or, Life in the Woods (Lot 38; estimate: $6,000-9,000) that sold for $13,860, surpassing its pre-sale high estimate. This sale was followed by a result of $16,380 for a multivolume set of Mark Twain’s The Writings, Definitive Edition (Lot 39; estimate: $8,000-12,000) and an autograph draft letter by Walt Whitman that achieved $8,190 (Lot 40; estimate: $3,000-5,000).


Of the 40 WWII poster lots on offer in Books and Manuscripts, 39 sold, and a great many outperformed their pre-sale estimates. Posters featuring Winston Churchill performed particularly well—Lots 60, 61, and 62 all commanded impressive prices—and Lot 87, Group of 16 Women in WWII Posters, achieved $4,725 (estimate: $1,000-1,500), all underscoring the ongoing market appeal of WWII material.