September 2018 | Jeremy Dibbell

Rare Books &c. at Auction This Week

A pretty full calendar of sales this week. Here are a few highlights:

On Tuesday, September 25 at Bonhams New York, Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, in 305 lots. A rare copy of Aurora Australis, the first book printed in Antarctica ("at the Sign of 'The Penguins'") during Shackleton's 1908-1909 Nimrod expedition and bound in boards made from packing crates, is estimated at $70,000-100,000. The same estimate is given for a first edition of Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625-1626). A later manuscript copy of Don Alonso de Arellano's 1565 account of an east-west crossing of the Pacific, from the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps, could fetch $50,000-80,000. A spectacular 1881 Mark Twain letter to aspiring author Bruce Munro about writing is estimated at $30,000-50,000. (More on the sale here in our autumn Auction Guide.)   

University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics on Wednesday, September 26, in 288 lots. A 1784 letter from James Watt about the first grist mill to employ Watt's steam engine could sell for $18,000-20,000, while an odd volume from Thomas Jefferson's library, with his ownership marks, is estimated at $16,000-18,000. A 1790 document signed by Washington as president and also by Declaration signer William Ellery could fetch $12,000-14,000.

Forum Auctions in London will hold two sales this week: Editions and Works on Paper on Wednesday and Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper on Thursday--the latter offering the William Morris-owned quill pen highlighted on our blog earlier this month.       

On Thursday, September 27, Swann Galleries hosts a sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana, in 516 lots, with the Harold Holzer Collection of Lincolniana comprising the first 176 lots. A 1577 Mexico City imprint, the first edition of the first book of sermons in the Nahuatl language, is estimated at $30,000-40,000 (pictured above). A copy of the first number of Thomas Paine's The American Crisis, printed at Fishkill, New York in early 1777, could fetch $25,000-35,000. A near-complete copy of the Aitken Bible is estimated at $20,000-30,000. (Again, more on the sale here.)

Also on Thursday, Freeman's sells Books & Manuscripts, in 479 lots. Top lots are expected to include a twenty-four volume set of Voyages Pittoresques et Romantiques dans l'ancienne France (1820-1878), containing nearly 3,000 plates and estimated at $10,000-15,000, and an eighteenth-century composite atlas at the same estimate range. A copy of the octavo edition of Audubon's Quadrupeds is estimated at $8,000-12,000.