Auctions | October 20, 2011

Swann Galleries November Auction Highlights Literary Anniversaries

New York—On Tuesday, November 8 Swann Galleries will conduct an auction of Art, Press & Illustrated Books / 19th & 20th Century Literature containing a rich and diverse selection of works by well-known authors and artists.

Three important literary anniversaries are celebrated with key material from the respective authors. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 which is represented by an inscribed first edition, New York, 1961 (estimate: $3,000 to $5,000) and an advance proof that once belonged to W.H. Auden, also inscribed by Heller, New York, 1961 ($2,500 to $3,500). Allen Ginsberg’s epochal Howl and Other Poems first appeared in print 55 years ago and a scarce, signed review copy is being offered, San Francisco, 1956 ($5,000 to $7,500).

In addition, 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, and in anticipation of that milestone the sale contains a first edition in the original parts of Bleak House, London, 1852-53 ($1,200 to $1,800) and, just in time for the winter holiday season, a complete set in fine bindings of the first editions of the Christmas Books, London, 1843-48 ($5,000 to $7,500).

There are more than 20 lots by the Pulitzer Prize-winning queen of Southern literature Eudora Welty collected from the library of her close friend and editor, and features both an inscribed first edition of her first book A Curtain of Green, Garden City, 1941 ($1,000 to $1,500) as well as an inscribed copy of the promotional pamphlet issued before that book’s publication; Eudora Welty: A Note on the Author and Her Work. Together with The Key, one of Seventeen Stories from Miss Welty’s Forthcoming A Curtain of Green, Garden City, 1941 ($2,000 to $3,000).

A run of first editions by William Faulkner features signed limited editions of Absalom! Absalom! ($3,000 to $4,000); The Hamlet ($2,500 to $3,000); and The Unvanquished ($1,200 to $1,800). A selection of signed Kurt Vonnegut works includes his first and second books, Player Piano ($1,000 to $1,500) and The Sirens of Titan ($2,000 to $3,000).

Increasingly scarce and beautiful are works containing intricate hand-painted scenes on the outer edges of their pages, known as “fore-edge paintings.” The sale contains a large, private collection of these treasures with uncommon scenes of golfing, cock-fighting, whaling, old London greenmarkets and architectural views.

A selection of cookbooks includes a first edition of the first Jewish cookbook published in America, The Jewish Cookery Book, Philadelphia, 1871 ($8,000 to $12,000).

Among the highlights of the Art, Press & Illustrated books is a section of the racy and clandestine area of book collecting called Curiosa, with an eye-raising sampling of Franz von Bayros’ erotic illustrations including the complete set of  Die Mappe I-III, Munich, 1911-1913 ($1,200 to $1,800).

Important contemporary artist’s books include a scarce signed, limited edition of Lettrist provocateur Isidore Isou’s Les véritables créatures et les Falsificateurs de Dada, Du Surréalisme et du Lettrisme, Paris, 1973 ($3,000 to $5,000); David Hockney’s Paper Pools, containing an original signed and numbered lithograph created for this work, London, 1980 ($4,000 to $6,000); and an inscribed, limited edition copy of Andy Warhol’s 25 Cats Name[d] Sam and One Blue Pussy, New York/Berlin, 1954 ($15,000 to $25,000).

Fans of Edward Gorey eagerly awaiting more offerings after last year’s highly successful auction will find a selection of collectible first editions including a copy of his collaboration with Samuel Beckett, All Strange Away, one of 26 lettered copies signed by both, New York, 1976 ($3,500 to $5,000). Fine press books by Kelmscott and Doves and a selection of gorgeously produced editions of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám enrich the illustrated book selections. This portion of the sale also contains prime examples of rare architecture books, and a fun and dynamic array of material from the Fluxus, Czech Avant-Garde and Surrealist movements.

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 8. The works will be on public exhibition Wednesday, November 2 and Friday, November 4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, November 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday, November 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, November 8, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated catalogue with information on bidding by mail or fax is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to arrange in advance to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Christine von der Linn at (212) 254-4710, extension 20, or via email at

Live online bidding is also available via