Auctions | November 13, 2014

Thomas Paine’s “The American Crisis” Headlines Swann Galleries’ Nov. 25 Sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana


New York—Swann Galleries’ auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana on Tuesday, November 25 features important material on the American Revolution, Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, Mormons, Latin America and the Caribbean. The sale includes selections from the Forbes Collection and the Milton R. Slater Collection.

The item with the highest pre-sale estimate is Thomas Paine’s extremely scarce The American Crisis, his essays that helped turn the tide of the Revolution, with the well-known opening line, “These are the times which try men’s souls,” three parts bound together, Philadelphia, 1776-77 (estimate: $120,000 to $180,000).

Also relating to the Revolution are a manuscript book with copies of letters written by Boston merchant Thomas Russell, who was active throughout the war in running the British blockade, to his fellow merchants and partners, 8 December 1777 to 4 October 1781 ($12,000 to $18,000) and a patriotic broadside from the first year of the Revolution, used as a recruitment contract for one of the first ships in the Continental Navy, Whipple’s U.S.S. Columbus, Philadelphia, 15 November 1775, with completions through 19 January 1776 ($8,000 to $12,000).

There is Peter Force’s printing of the Declaration of Independence—a cornerstone of Americana collecting—on rice paper, Washington, circa 1833 and an insider’s report on the Constitutional Convention, by Luther Martin, an Anti-Federalist Maryland delegate, Philadelphia, 1788 ($12,000 to $18,000 each).

A selection of items relating to a young Abraham Lincoln includes a manuscript minute book of the Sangamon County Circuit Court, which includes an early step in his formal certification as a lawyer, a 24 March 1836 entry reading, “Ordered that it be certified to all whom it may concern that Abraham Lincoln is a man of good moral character,” ($8,000 to $12,000) and a pair of general store account books including an account with Lincoln, during his early career as a partner in an Illinois general store, 1836-55 ($6,000 to $9,000).

From the Civil War come Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union . . . An Ordinance to Dissolve the Union, letterpress broadside, Jackson, 1861 ($10,000 to $15,000); an archive of correspondence of the Iowa Sanitary Commission, many by agent Annie Wittenmyer in the field, most of the letters addressed to Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood, 1861-64 ($4,000 to $6,000) and a hand-colored manuscript map, Birds Eye View of the Camp and Fortifications around Suffolk, Virginia, 12 May 1863 ($3,000 to $4,000).

Significant Mormon material includes two editions of The Book of Mormon, a first edition, which is the only one listing Joseph Smith as “author and proprietor,” rather than translator, and the only edition with his two-page preface, Palmyra, New York, 1830 ($40,000 to $60,000) and a second edition, which was originally owned by Thomas Alfred Judd, a New York native who joined the LDS church in 1836 while living in Leeds, Ontario and settled with the main body of Mormons in 1841, on 1 September 1838, Judd sold this book to Moses Smith—possibly the Moses Smith, who was the first Mormon in Wisconsin ($4,000 to $6,000); as well as a related Thurlow Weed letter describing Joseph Smith’s hunt for a printer of the first Book of Mormon, New York, 31 December 1881 ($4,000 to $6,000).

Also of interest is a letter from Ann Eliza Young, an ex-wife of Brigham Young, who became an outspoken women’s rights activist and polygamy opponent, written to Jennie Froiseth, author of the book The Women of Mormonism; or The Story of Polygamy as told by the Victims Themselves, 20 May 1881 ($3,000 to $4,000).

Latin Americana highlights include one of the first scientific books written by a native Latin American to be published in the New World, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora’s Libra Astronomica, y Philosophica, Mexico, 1690 ($8,000 to $12,000).


Rounding out the sale are a petition to King Philip V of Spain by José de Azlor, recounting his gift of 200 cattle to Texas in 1717, and asking the king to confirm his family’s title to land, circa 1718 ($5,000 to $7,500); a Connecticut militia lieutenant in the Battle of Ticonderoga, the 1759 campaign of the French and Indian War ($8,000 to $12,000); George W. Kendall’s The War between the United States and Mexico Illustrated, with a map and 12 hand-colored lithographic plates after Carl Nebel, New York and Paris, 1851 ($12,000 to $18,000); and a previously unpublished diary of an officer on Macomb’s Exploring Expedition, which includes reports of both friendly and hostile Indians, Mormons, Mexican sheep herders, breathtaking mountain scenery, and even some affectionate frontier ladies, 15 October [July] to 29 September, 15 to 26 October 1859 ($8,000 to $12,000).

The auction will take place Tuesday, November 25 at 1:30 p.m. The items will be on public exhibition Friday, November 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, November 22, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, November 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, November 25, from 10 a.m. to noon.

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

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Rick Stattler by telephone at (212) 254-4710, extension 27, or email:

Online bidding is available via

First image: Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, three parts bound together, Philadelphia, 1776-77 (estimate: $120,000 to $180,000).

Second image: George W. Kendall, The War between the United States and Mexico Illustrated, New York and Paris, 1851 (estimate: $12,000 to $18,000).