Auctions | March 1, 2012

Part II of Eric C. Caren Collection Coming Up at Swann's

New York—On Thursday, March 15, Swann Galleries will conduct a second auction of material from the Eric C. Caren Collection in a sale titled How History Unfolds on Paper. Caren’s collection aims to document every important event in modern history through books, manuscripts, autographs, photographs, posters and ephemera that span the 16th century through the 1970s. Swann held a sale on September 15, 2011 of Part I of Caren’s collection, which totaled close to $660,000. The top lot was King Charles II’s manuscript letter authorizing Edmund Andros to take possession of New York from the Dutch, signed Windsor Castle, 30 July 1674, which brought $120,000.

While most of the material in the current sale could be classified as Americana, dozens of lots are in the realm of English history, with a few from Africa and continental Europe. The formats go well beyond Swann’s usual books and manuscripts, including newspapers, posters, broadsides, photographs, and maps. Chronologically, the material ranges from a 1567 illustrated news sheet to a 1988 autographed poster from Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign, and covers almost every decade in between.

Two of the top lots in the sale are rare books: Admiranda Narratio Fida Tamen, de Commodis et Incolarum Ritibus Virginiae, is the 1590 first Latin edition of Theodor de Bry’s work on Virginia, promoting the bright prospects of the doomed Roanoke colony (estimate: $60,000 to $90,000); and a first edition of A Briefe Relation of the Discovery and Plantation of New England, published in London in 1622—before the Massachusetts Bay Colony ($40,000 to $60,000).

Among manuscript highlights is an original indictment of Margaret Scott for “certaine detestable arts called Witchcraft and Sorceries,” from 1692, which is the first manuscript from the Salem Witch Trials to come to auction in almost 30 years ($25,000 to $35,000); the Civil War diary of Lieutenant William Dixon, who served as an escort at Lincoln’s funeral ($3,000 to $4,000); and autograph items by diverse figures such as Thomas Edison, the Beatles, Henry Knox, and P.T. Barnum.

There are several cabinet cards and other early photographs, including American Indian portraits by some of the giants of the genre—Edward Curtis, Frank Rinehart, David Barry, and William Soule—and also a remarkably well-preserved campaign carte-de-visite of Abraham Lincoln without a beard, October 1859 ($3,000 to $4,000); and a signed Robert E. Lee carte-de-visite, with a letter describing the signing, Richmond, 13 January 1866 ($4,000 to $6,000).

The quality of newspapers and periodicals in this sale is particularly impressive. “Charleston Mercury Extra . . . The Union is Dissolved!” is the first printing of the first act of secession, from 20 December 1860 ($215,000 to $25,000). An issue of the Gazette of the United States dated 13 June 1789 includes the first printing of the Bill of Rights in any form ($12,000 to $18,000). An impressive run of The Gentleman's Magazine from 1731 to 1800 includes countless early American maps and reporting ($8,000 to $12,000); and a very early issue of the Boston News-Letter from 1719 includes important news of the Louisiana territory coming under control of the Company of the West ($5,000 to $7,500).

Files of press photographs dating from the 1920s to the 1970s, with captions on the backs, cover baseball and film stars as well as major news events. Posters from the late 1960s and early 1970s illustrate psychedelia and Vietnam War protests, while Flagg’s famous “I Want You” poster from 1917 represents an earlier era.

The auction will take place Thursday, March 15 at 1:30 p.m. The items will be on public exhibition Saturday, March 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday, March 12 through Wednesday,

March 14, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated catalogue, with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Rick Stattler by telephone at (212) 254-4710, extension 27, or email: Online bidding is available via
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