Auctions | October 20, 2016

Scarce Signed Firsts Abound at Swann Galleries

201-Mitchell-signed-page copy.jpgNew York— On Thursday, November 10, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature, featuring a number of signed first editions and association copies.

Notable is a run of signed first editions by H.G. Wells, inscribed to his friend, the poet W.E. Henley, to whom Wells dedicated The Time Machine. Offerings from this collection include The First Men in the Moon, London, 1901, a very rare first printing of the first English edition in the first state binding. Only three other signed copies have appeared at auction; this one is estimated to sell between $6,000 and $9,000. A first edition of Tales of Space and Time, 1900, is additionally embellished by an original drawing by the author to Henley: a charming rendering of Ugh-Iomi and Eudena, the protagonists of A Story of the Stone Age, one of the five short stories in the volume ($2,000 to $3,000). Further selections include The Invisible Man, 1897, and The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1896 ($6,000 to $9,000 and $5,000 to $7,500, respectively).

Further early twentieth century titles shine, including an unusual first edition of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, in what is likely the only surviving example of the first state dust jacket, previously unknown to scholars ($25,000 to $35,000). Also available is a first edition of Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, inscribed by the author to his friend R.B. Cunninghame Graham in 1900, estimated to sell between $12,000 and $18,000. In its original dust jacket is a signed first edition of Ralph 124C 41+. A Romance of the Year 2660 by Hugo Gernsback, 1925. The book, one of the foundational texts in the science-fiction pantheon, is estimated at $8,000 to $12,000. Additional signed firsts include titles by authors Samuel Beckett, Ray Bradbury, William Faulkner and Ezra Pound. 

Making its auction debut is a first edition of Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell’s landmark 1936 text that inspired the movie of the same name. The present edition is signed by 11 members of the supporting cast of the film, with several adding the name of the character they played; it is expected to fetch $8,000 to $12,000.

The selection of children's literature includes a signed copy of the first limited edition of Le Petit Prince, 1943, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ($4,000 to $6,000), and a complete set of the first editions of the Christopher Robin series by A.A. Milne, the series that introduced the world to Winnie the Pooh. The four volumes were published serially through the 1920s in cloth of differing colors; together they are estimated at $8,000 to $12,000. Also available are the set of the first American editions of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein, 1954-56, and the first issue of the first edition of Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, 1900 ($2,500 to $3,500 and $5,000 to $7,500, respectively.)

From the nineteenth century come beloved classics such as a first edition of A Christmas Carol, 1843, by Charles Dickens, ($5,000 to $7,500). Fine examples by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain and Jules Verne round out the sale.

The auction will be held Thursday, November 10, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Saturday, November 5 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, November 7 through Wednesday, November 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, November 10 from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information or to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact specialist, John D. Larson at 212-254-4710, extension 61 or

Image: Lot 201 Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind, first edition, signed by 11 members of the supporting cast of the film, New York, 1936. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000.