June 2010 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Steinbeck Falls Flat

The John Steinbeck archive, which went on the block Wednesday in Bloomsbury's Travel, Literature, Autographs, and Fine Books sale, sold poorly. Seen here is lot #180 -- scarce, unrevised galley proofs of The Grapes of Wrath went under estimate for $7,500 (exclusive of buyer's premium). His Nobel Prize correspondence? Also low, at $2,800. More than half of the Steinbeck lots went unsold. The total sale was $73,950, well below the estimated $200,000-250,000.

According to the press release, the collection "consists of the contents of the John Steinbeck archive gathered from the apartment in New York City that he and his third wife, Elaine, shared for thirteen years. The items include many important autograph manuscripts, voluminous correspondence, several inscribed illustrated works including original drawings and photographs. Steinbeck's personal library comprising some 500 books, including first editions, presentation copies, many with his rubber stamp as well as later presentation copies to Elaine Steinbeck, is offered as a stand-alone group..."

Read more from the AP, with a photo slide show.