Sold: Complete Set of WPA American Guides

Courtesy of Swann Galleries

A complete set of American Guides sold at Swann Galleries.

The Federal Writers’ Project, the writing/publishing arm of the Works Progress Administration, has become topical in the literary world again. Our current issue features a story about collecting the FWP's American Guides, written by Scott Borchert, also the author of the recent book, Republic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America. Moreover, the call for a ‘new’ federally funded writing program is gaining steam.

So it was with excitement that I watched today’s auction at Swann Galleries, particularly lots 285 and 286. The former was a complete (if not “bibliophilic,” said Swann) set of 50 American Guides in a mix of editions, some with original dust jackets; it hammered for $2,200 ($2,750 with buyer's premium). The latter was a grouping of American city and regional guides published from 1937-1951. They too were snapped up, for $1,200 ($1,500 with bp).