June 2013 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Sales at Skinner

This past weekend Skinner of Boston held its now biannual auction devoted to fine books and manuscripts. This auction achieved an excellent sell-through rate for its 468 lots. Here were a few of my favorites.  

Louisa-Skinner.jpgIt's not surprising that this Louisa May Alcott letter, c. 1868, realized $10,000, over an estimate of $3,000-4,000. For it is not merely an autograph signed letter by the famous author, but one written to her publisher Thomas Niles, in which she makes editorial notes regarding Little Women. All that, an an ink smudge showing her partial fingerprint!

Gill Map Skinner.jpgI am thankful to our Fine Maps columnist, Jeffrey Murray, for making me feel smart while I perused Skinner's map offerings. This one, for example, is the work of MacDonald Gill, whose work we featured in our spring 2012 issue in Murray's column about the Empire Marketing Board. This brightly colored map is a bird's eye view of London c. 1914, originally commissioned to be displayed in railway stations. This one came complete with the original publisher's printed envelope. At $1,400, it made more than double its estimate.

Skinner-Binding.jpgThis one I couldn't resist including--not for its rarity as much as its beauty (though it is unrecorded, according to Skinner). The English psalm book, c. 1625, is bound in a contemporary silk embroidered binding with the death's head on the front and back covers. It was estimated at $1,000-$1,500 but did much better at $3,250.

Images via Skinner.com.