New York Week Preview, Part 1: Heritage

To kick off a week of previews relating to this week in New York City -- two major auctions and three fairs -- I sat down this weekend to conquer the Heritage Auction Galleries' catalogue for its April 7th live auction at the Fletcher Sinclair Mansion (2 E. 79th St., where lots are on view Wednesday & Thursday). It is not quite the Sears catalog in heft, but close. There I sat, diligently, with my set of lavender sticky notes to mark pages of interest. I quickly realized this method was futile when I had used twenty notes in the first forty pages.

Which is to say it would be impossible to summarize, so I will merely offer a few highlights as I see them. The star of the show may be the "Astor-Aubery de Frawenberg" Book of Hours, produced in France c. 1500-1520. One of the illustrations is seen here on the catalogue's cover. Once owned by William Waldorf Astor, it is a stunning manuscript on parchment in an equally stunned binding of seventeenth-century red velvet under European silver-gilt pierced covers. The starting bid will be $305,000.

Novelist Sarah Burney's copy of the first edition of Austen's Pride and Prejudice (est. $90,000) looks quite beautiful, and it strikes me that the Austen collector we profile in our spring issue's "How I Got Started" column would be awestruck.

A first edition of the first volume of Lewis & Clark's History of the Expedition...with an association to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the preface, uncut and in the original boards seems likely to beat its estimate of $25,000, even if there are some minor condition issues. The same is true for a book of American state constitutions published in 1781. Uncut, in the original boards, and inscribed by Bushrod C. Washington, the nephew and heir of George Washington, it is estimated at $20,000. Perhaps this is a good place to mention F. Scott Fitzgerald's personal and heavily annotated textbook edition of George Washington's The Farewell Address...also at this auction. Published in 1911, it's a textbook example of how much ownership and association can mean to a book's value (pun intended!). Bidding starts at $20,000.

It will come as no surprise to my everyday readers to hear that the twenty-volume set of The Writings of Henry David Thoreau with eighteen pages of manuscript bound in at the front of volume one (est. $15,000) certainly caught my eye. As did a rare limited edition in vellum of Danish folktales illustrated by Kay Nielsen, which will open at $2,500.

There are more than a few Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Edward Curtis items for sale. The Victor Gulotta collection of Charles Dickens comprises a large part of the sale, as well. A small collection of inscribed and/or signed Stephen King first editions and special editions are here, many opening at $400. Or perhaps a sterling silver seagull pin engraved "To Bert from Ayn" [Rand] piques your interest? (Its estimate is $3,500). There literally is something for everyone at this sale.

The floor auction will commence in two sessions; one at 1:00 p.m., the other at 5:00 p.m on Thursday. A third session on Saturday is an Internet, Fax & Mail only session. (There are also two manuscript and autograph auctions happening at Heritage this weekend, for which there are two separate catalogues!) Good luck, bidders.