Vesalius, Poe’s Tamerlane, Original Blake, American Founding Rarities: Auction Preview

Image: Freeman's | Hindman

Plate from Sarah Bowdich's Fresh-Water Fishes of Great Britain, offered at Freeman's | Hindman this week.

More sales than you can shake a stick at this week!

At Swann Galleries on Tuesday, June 25, 182 lots of Autographs, including a fair copy autograph manuscript of Torquato Tasso's poem "La Fenice" ($50,000–75,000); an April 1783 John Adams letter to Benjamin Rush ($50,000–60,000); a May 1773 letter from Benjamin Franklin to Arthur Lee ($20,000–30,000); and a September 1794 letter from Alexander Hamilton to the governor of Pennsylvania, Thomas Mifflin about the Whiskey Rebellion ($20,000–30,000). A large collection of more than 350 H.H. Asquith letters to Hilda Harrisson are estimated at $15,000–25,000.

Freeman's | Hindman sells 298 lots of Books and Manuscripts on Tuesday. The top lot is expected to be John Keats' copy of the 1679 edition of Edmund Spenser's Works ($50,000–80,000); other lots include a first edition of Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler ($30,000–50,000) and Thomas Gabriel's Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America (1698), estimated at $25,000–35,000; this last is from the library of the Earls of Macclesfield. Sarah Bowdich's Fresh-Water Fishes of Great Britain (1828–1838) is expected to sell for $25,000–35,000; this copy originally belonged to subscriber Sir Humphry Davy.

At New England Book Auctions on Tuesday, Fine Books, Early Printing, and Americana, in 244 lots. 

At Bonhams New York on Tuesday, The Arthur E. Lyons MD Collection of Medical and Scientific Books, in 147 lots. The Haskell Norman copy of Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543) rates the top estimate at $200,000–300,000.

Also ending on Tuesday, Bonhams online Fine Books & Manuscripts sale, including the business and economics collection of Stanley C. Wisniewski. Among the 192 lots are a copy of Vesalius' Epitome, published simultaneously with the Fabrica ($100,000–150,000); Admiral Byrd's winter 1934 diary from Bolling Advance Base ($40,000–60,000); and seven volumes of Captain William Trotter's journals from voyages to various places ($35,000–45,000).

Sotheby's New York holds a series of four auction sessions on Wednesday, June 26. First up is 47 lots from the Library of Dr. Rodney P. Swantko, including the complete autograph manuscript of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four ($800,000–1,200,000); Poe's Tamerlane (1827), a Poe autograph manuscript of the first eight stanzas of "For Annie," and the original Thomas Taylor cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; each of these is estimated at $400,000–600,000.

Next up will be Three Poets: William Blake, A. E. Housman, Robert Frost: these three lots are a 1795 copy of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience ($1.2–1.8 million); a large collection of Housman letters and books ($300,000–400,000); and David Lowenherz's collection of Robert Frost material, including a wide variety of interesting things ($400,000–600,000).

Third in the Sotheby's sequence is Founding Documents of the United States, comprising four lots: a copy of the July 11, 1776 New York edition of the Declaration of Independence, printed as the third page of John Holt's New-York Journal ($2.5–5 million), this the only copy of this edition in private hands; the first publication of the U.S. Constitution, as the September 19, 1787 issue of the Pennsylvania Packet ($700,000–1,000,000); an unrecorded Philadelphia handbill printing of the Bill of Rights ($1–2 million); and the rare 1790 Providence broadside recording the amendments proposed to the Constitution by the Rhode Island Convention ($300,000–600,000).

Finally, 205 lots of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana: Brigham Young's copy of the 1823 Stone facsimile printing of the Declaration of Independence, an early proof copy, rates the top estimate at $500,000–700,000. A large collection of material related to the career of French diplomat/adventurer Benoît Chassériau is expected to sell for $400,000–600,000. One of the original manuscript presentation copies of Rowling's Tales of Beedle the Bard (2007), inscribed to publisher Barry Cunningham, is expected to sell for $250,000–350,000.

At University Archives on Wednesday, 508 lots of Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Books & Space Memorabilia, including a signed carte-de-visite photograph of Abraham Lincoln ($100,000–150,000).

On Thursday, June 27, Forum Auctions sells online the Library of the late John Collins, in 321 lots, without reserve.

Sotheby's Paris sells 121 lots of Livres et Manuscrits on Thursday.

At Sotheby's New York on Thursday, 90 lots of Important Judaica, including the original manuscript of the David Moss Haggadah (1980–1984), expected to sell for $400,000–600,000.

Christie's online sale of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts including Americana ends on Thursday: the 171 lots include a first edition of Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands ($400,000–600,000); Prince Maximilian and Karl Bodmer's Reise in das innere Nord-America in den Jahren 1832 bis 1834 ($300,000–500,000); and Dr. David Stuart's copy of the 1788 edition of The Federalist ($250,000–350,000).

At Freeman's | Hindman on Thursday, 71 lots of Western Manuscripts and Miniatures.

Swann sells 383 lots of Printed & Manuscript Americana on Thursday, including a first edition Book of Mormon ($60,000–90,000).

At PBA Galleries on Thursday, Elite Americana and Travel, in 129 lots.