Auctions | November 10, 2011

Printed & Manuscript Americana and Ocean Liner Memorabilia at Swann's

New York—On Thursday, December 1, Swann Galleries will offer a two-part auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana and Ocean Liner Memorabilia. The Americana portion of the sale offers many scarce and one-of-a-kind items with regional or national interest, while the Ocean Liner material features items related to the Titanic.

The lot with the highest pre-sale estimate is one of the most valuable newspapers ever to come to auction. It is the October 3, 1789 edition of the bi-weekly Gazette of the United States, which includes the first newspaper printing of the Bill of Rights. This was the American public’s first opportunity to see its new proposed rights, even before they were ratified by the states (estimate: $30,000 to $40,000).

A section of American Revolution material features a colored aquatint portrait of Lafayette, as leader of the National Guard of France, Paris, 1790 ($4,000 to $6,000); as well as an April 1776 Connecticut edition of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the later of two Connecticut editions ($8,000 to $12,000).

Another significant pamphlet in the sale is a first edition William Penn’s The Sandy Foundation Shaken, written as a 23-year-old recent convert to the Quaker faith, for which Penn was sentenced for blasphemy and sent to the Tower of London, where he famously refused to recant his faith, 1668 ($8,000 to $12,000).

From the Civil War is a group of 15 drawings and watercolors by a Yankee regimental physician, which serve as a visual diary of his service in the war, 1862-64 ($4,000 to $6,000); and an autograph album, featuring signatures of some of the leading figures of the Confederacy, including Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, General James Longstreet, Colonel John S. Mosby and Pierre Beauregard, originally collected by confederate soldier Austin E. Smith of Virginia, and then continued after his death by his family ($6,000 to $9,000).

World War II is represented by an archive of General MacArthur’s official cables relating to the Japanese surrender, which were retained by a Women’s Army Corps (WAC) stenographer, and passed down through her family ($3,000 to $4,000). There is also an album of official photographs and reports on the internment of Japanese Americans in California containing 52 unsettling images, each carefully selected to present a positive view of the evacuation process ($2,000 to $3,000).

Presidential material of note includes a dance card from Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural ball, issued to guests, with a list of 23 planned dances, 4 March, 1861, which is the only item of its kind to come to auction ($4,000 to $6,000); a limited edition of Theodore Roosevelt’s The Winning of the West, in four volumes, with a leaf inserted from his manuscript, New York, 1900 ($4,000 to $6,000); and several items related to George Washington, among them Washington Irving’s Life of George Washington, extra-illustrated, with an original Document Signed by Washington dated 25 January 1774 ($8,000 to $12,000).

Among the regional highlights are a manuscript list of 113 convicts who were to be delivered to Maryland from Great Britain, which may have been the first shipment of prisoners under the Transportation Act that became law in May 1719 ($4,000 to $6,000); a first edition of Moore and Jones’s The Traveller’s Dictionary, or a Pocket Companion: Shewing the Course of the Main Road from Philadelphia to New York, and from Philadelphia to Washington, 1802 ($7,000 to $10,000); an album of 24 small-format chromolithographs from the series Views in Central Park, New York, 1863 or 69 ($1,500 to $2,500); and an archive of family letters from the Wilsons of WaKeeney, Kansas, filled with details of life on the newly tamed plains, one describing the 1878 Cheyenne breakout, 1873-79 ($1,500 to $2,500).

Of particular interest in light of the Occupy Wall Street protests of today, is an archive of letters written by Eugene Debs, union organizer and Socialist Party leader. Written over a span of 30 years, the letters are all to his nephew Robert Debs Heinl, a newspaper columnist and editor, and feature a mix of personal and political views, written as Debs attended rallies and meetings for a variety of causes, 1893-25 ($2,000 to $3,000).

Rounding out the Americana section is a run of lots containing classic baseball images—portraits, team photos and newsworthy moments—by photographers Nat Fein and James Kavallines; Lewis and Clark material; theater memorabilia; and a section of Latin Americana and Caribbean items.

Part II of the sale, devoted to Ocean Liner and Transportation Memorabilia, commences at 3:00 p.m., with more than 360 lots of posters, photographs, shipboard ephemera, service ware, and collectibles from the great ships that graced the seas.

Among the rarest and most sought after items are those from the Titanic, and this sale offers a first-class deck plan, detailing the fine accommodations, December 1911 ($12,000 to $18,000); various postcards and china pieces; and survivor-related items such as a landing or custom card issued to Mrs. Cassebeer onboard the Carpathia after her rescue from the Titanic, 10 April, 1912 ($2,000 to $3,000); and a fragment from a musical toy pig carried by Edith Russell as she left the sinking ship ($1,500 to $2,500).

From the French Line’s Normandie, one of the fastest and most lavish ships of her day, are silver serving pieces; maiden voyage medallions; a 1935 photo album with 24 views of the ship from the library of the line’s head engineer at the time of the maiden voyage, and later company president ($2,500 to $3,500); and a magnificent reverse painted glass, pressed aluminum and photographic portrait of the ship used in the French Line offices, circa 1935 ($4,000 to $6,000).

Other desirable items are a letterpress timetable in the form of a broadside for Mitsu Bishi Mail Steam Ship Company service between Yokohama and Shanghai, 1877 ($2,000 to $3,000); a captain’s logbook for the maiden voyage of the World War II Liberty ship S.S. George Dewey, with highly detailed descriptions of day-to-day operations 1943 ($1,200 to $1,800); a company-issued travel agency photo album of the ill-fated Andrea Doria, containing 58 photos, in extremely fine condition, 1950s ($1,000 to $1,500); and various ephemeral items related to zeppelins including the Hindenburg.

The auction will take place Thursday, December 1 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The items will be on public exhibition Monday, November 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, November 29, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Wednesday, November 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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 (Americana) by telephone at (212) 254-4710, extension 27, or email:; or Gary Garland (Ocean Liners) at (212) 254-4710, extension 17, or email:
Online bidding is available via