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Courtesy of Swann Galleries

Bernardus Sylvanus, Untitled World Map, Venice, 1511. Estimate: $20,000-30,000

New York -- Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books are on the block at Swann Galleries on Thursday, December 17. The sale will feature a strong showing of world cartography, as well as a standout selection of historical prints and paintings of the natural sciences.

Natural history and color plate works shine, with John Woodhouse Audubon’s original life-size oil portrait of a California Gray Squirrel, circa 1853, leading the sale at $30,000 to $50,000. The Audubon name is synonymous with art of the natural world—most renowned for his iconic Birds of America, master naturalist John James Audubon expectantly encouraged and cultivated his two sons Victor Gifford and John Woodhouse to chase his passions for illustrating American wildlife. The work comes to auction by direct descent through the artist’s family. Works by John James Audubon feature in the sale with Night Heron or Qua Bird, offered at $25,000 to $35,000, and Black-Billed Cuckoo, at $4,000 to $6,000, both hand-colored aquatints and engraved plates from 1835 and featured in Audubon’s Birds of America.

Further works of the natural world include William Jardine’s The Naturalist’s Library, 1843, with over 1,200 hand-colored engraved plates of animals, birds, fish and insects ($2,000-3,000). A group of 30 uncolored folio engravings from Hortus Eystettensis, 1613, by Basilius Besler is present ($7,000-10,000), in addition to other floriculture works including Henry Andrews’s The Botanist’s Repository, for New, and Rare Plants, 1797 ($3,000-5,000), and Alfred Cogniaux and Alphonse Goossens’s Dictionnaire Iconographique des Orchidées, with 803 fine small chromolithographed plates printed between 1896 and 1907 ($2,500-3,500).

From 1511 is one of the earliest attainable printed maps to show the New World by Bernardus Sylvanus at $20,000 to $30,000. The modern geography is given stylish treatment with hachuring around the landmasses to add depth and with windheads surrounding the representation. Additional world maps feature Typus Cosmographicus Universalis, Basel, 1532, by Sebastian Münster with elaborate woodcut borders designed by Hans Holbein the Younger ($10,000-15,000); a prize example of Johannes Blaeu’s Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula, 1662, one of the most striking seventeenth-century Dutch world maps ($8,000-12,000); and a circa-1504 Ptolemaic world map printed in Strasbourg with decorative windheads by Gregor Reisch ($3,500-5,500).

Regional cartography includes a scarcely seen 1785 complete set of five manuscript maps of Japan’s surrounding regions created after Hayashi Shihei ($4,000-6,000); also from Asia is a small archive from the later part of the nineteenth century comprising a manuscript map presenting the town on either side of the Min River in China, and four pencil sketches rendering a sampling of the local landscape, architecture, and river vessels ($800-1,200). Europe is present with a scarce first edition of Lievin Cruyl’s Pianta di Roma Come si Trova al Presente Colle Alzate Delle Fabriche Piu Nobili Cosi Antiche Come Moderne, Rome, 1665, a sweeping perspective view of seventeenth-century Rome ($3,000-4,000); and a finely detailed mid-nineteenth century English map of Armenia, circa 1870s ($800-1,200). Maps of America are featured in Henry Popple’s Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements Adjacent Thereto, London, 1733 ($1,200-1,800); a scarce map of the United States from Matthew Carey’s General Atlas of 1796, the first of its kind to be engraved and published in America ($1,800-2,200); and W.J. Keeler’s National Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Washington, 1867 ($2,000-3,000).

Atlases and books containing maps are present with John Gibson and Emanuel Bowen’s Atlas Minimus, or a New Set of Pocket Maps of the Several Empires, Kingdoms and States of the Known World, London, 1758 ($2,500-3,500); a rare 1803 immigration guide offering prospective European settlers a frank account of the drawbacks and opportunities of pioneering within the wilderness of the eastern United States ($1,800-2,200); a scarce early-American geography manual with 25 of the 60 maps pertaining to the United States by Nathan Hale from 1830 ($500-750); and an example of Famiano Strada’s Famiani Stradae Romani e Societate Jesu de Bello Belgico, Rome, 1643–48, a historical compendium on the Dutch War of Independence against Spain ($1,000-1,500).

Historical prints of note include a rare series of seven large-format tinted lithographed plates from Isla de Cuba Pintoresca, circa 1865, showing panoramic landscapes of Cuban towns and harbors by Eduardo Laplante ($5,000-7,500). Currier & Ives is featured with Winter Morning. Feeding the Chickens, 1863, a large folio hand-colored lithograph of a mother and a young daughter tossing scratch to the chickens on a cold snowy morning ($1,200-1,800), as well as and an original box of Charles Currier No. 3 Lithographic Crayons, with nearly the entire gross of crayons intact in unopened individual packet wrappers ($500-750). William Hogarth’s first independently published work, Masquerades and Operas; or The Bad Taste of the Town, 1724, rounds out the offering ($1,200-1,800).

Additional treasures feature an astonishing large hand-drawn typographical devotional composition with over 150 engraved scenes of the Old and New Testament from the mid-nineteenth century Britain ($2,000-3,000); and Wagashi Seiho Koshu Roku Zokuhen, 1920, with 156 pages of color printed woodblock plates of traditional Japanese confectionary designs and recipes ($700-1,000).

Limited previewing (by appointment only) will be available through December 16, to be scheduled directly with the specialist in advance and conforming to strict safety guidelines. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of material on request. Advance order bids can be placed with the specialist for the sale or on Swann’s website, and phone bidding will be available. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and on the Swann Galleries App.

Additional highlights can be found here.

Courtesy of Ketterer Kunst

Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer’s Speculum nauticum super navigatione maris (1586). 

Hamburg, Germany — With total proceeds of around € 2 million*, the Rare Books Auction at Ketterer Kunst in Hamburg on November 30 did not only realize an excellent result but also got ahead of the great spring sales figures by around € 200,000*. In the Evening Sale alone 90% of the objects on offer changed owners with in many cases enormous increases. The star of the night was Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer's "Sea Atlas.”

Top 5

€ 325,000* Starting price: € 135,000
No. 022: Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer - Speculum nauticum super navigatione maris. Leiden 1586

€ 143,750*  Starting price: € 14,000
No. 005: Biblia latina vulgata. - Presumably Southern France, 12th century

€ 81,250*  Starting price: € 60,000
No. 075: Marc Chagall. - Daphnis & Chloé. Paris 1961

€ 62,500* Starting price: € 6,000
No. 008: Ovidius Naso Publius. - Metamorphosen.1462

€ 57,500* Starting price: € 15,000
No. 001: Book of Hours - Rouen around 1490

Christoph Calaminus, auctioneer and head of the Rare Books Department in Hamburg, expresses his utter satisfaction: "It was a great auction with some excellent prices." He continues: "In times as demanding as these I am especially happy that we saw lively domestic and international participation despite the pandemic. Digital bidding options were well received. This was the first time that the number of online bids and the lot total were on par. Around 25% of all lots went to online bidders, while in many other cases the internet bids promted the final price."

One of the sale's main attractions was a sea atlas that Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer had originally conceived as a navigation handbook. The 435 years old milestone of Western European cartography is especially captivating for its well-arranged sea maps in folio format, and was in particularly strong demand with bidders from Germany, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the U.S.A. Eventually an English bidder on the phone beat an extremely strong commission by a Northern German private collector and honored the first Latin edition of the rare book with a result of € 325,000*.

The Evening Sale saw its grand opening when the richly illuminated Latin and French Book of Hours (lot 1) for the use of Rouen was called up. The early work by the highly acclaimed Norman miniature painter Robert Boyvin was particularly popular with collectors from Italy, Holland, France, England and Germany. The hammer for the parchment manuscript eventually went down in favor of a US bidder who let the price soar to a total of € 57,500*, nearly a four-fold of its calling price. Thus standing his grounds against seven other phones, a small number - due to current hygiene regulations - of bidders present in the saleroom, as well as against numerous commissions and several online participants.

The sale went on likewise exciting when lot 2, the work "Distinictiones sacrae scripturae" was called up. The rare Latin parchment manuscript by the Franciscan Mauritius Hibernicus from around 1300 started at € 20,000 and caught the fancy of more than half a dozen bidders. Eventually a Swiss collector relegated his fellow countrymen and other competitors from France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany to places second and beyond with a result of € 48,750*.

Just a little later the Biblia latina vulgata (lot 5), an extremely rare Latin bible manuscript from the 12th century, realized more than a ten-fold of its calling price of € 14,000. Highly contested by a large number of commissions and nine phones, a persistent book lover from France won the important contemporary document in an unusual hand-format for a result of € 143,750*.

The bidding frenzy kept rolling with lot number 8, the "Metamorphoses" by Ovidius Naso Publius. Along with high commissions and several online bidders, half a dozen phone bidders from Europe and the U.S.A. also entered the race. It was thus little surprising that the rare manuscript realized more than a ten-fold of its calling price of € 6,000. In the end an American bidder honored the elegant manuscript with a price of € 62,500*.

Italy will be the new home of Gustav Klimt's "Das Werk" (lot 287). The only monograph published during the artist's lifetime soon soared beyond its calling price of € 12,000. An Italian collector let it climb to € 47,500* and beat other phone competitors from England and the U.S.A.

Called up at € 19,000, an American book trader acquired a collection of 312 original watercolors by Pieter Joseph de Pannemaeker (lot 36) for € 43,750*. The splendid unique work is an impressive collection of drafts from the ownership of the Comte de Kerchove de Denterghem and was also popular with private collectors from Germany and England.

A German antiquarian book trader in the saleroom fought hard for Wassily Kandinsky's "Klänge" (lot 308). However, an English trader showed greater persistence and was willing to pay € 27,500* for this important expressionist book.

Courtesy of Pure + Applied, Library of Congress

Artist rendering shows new exhibitions to feature the Library’s treasures.

Washington, D.C. — The Dwight D. Opperman Foundation is donating $1 million to reimagine and enhance the visitor experience at the Library of Congress with a new orientation gallery, exhibitions and learning lab, the Library announced today.

The Phoenix-based foundation’s donation to support design and construction of the Library’s visitor experience is one of several major gifts to the project in 2020 and was announced just after Giving Tuesday.

The Library is pursuing a multi-year plan to transform the experience of its nearly 2 million annual visitors, share more of its national treasures with the public and show how Library collections connect with visitors’ own creativity and research.

"The Library of Congress is, in my opinion, the nation's greatest cultural institution," said Julie Opperman, chairman of the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation. "I am pleased to help support this great initiative for people the world over to discover more of its unique and vast treasures."  

The Dwight D. Opperman Foundation was established by Dwight D. Opperman upon his sale of West Publishing Company where he was chairman and creator of WestLaw, the iconic legal information provider. Opperman, the most noted philanthropist of his day in the legal/judicial community, wished to continue his efforts in a private capacity. Prior to his passing in 2013, he appointed Julie Opperman as the sole controller of his self-funded charitable foundation.

“The Opperman Foundation’s support will help transform the way visitors experience our national library, and we are grateful,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Future visitors to the Library of Congress will discover the many treasures held here to document our nation’s history and creativity.”

After half a century of supporting legal education, institutions and the American judiciary, as well as establishing the Devitt Award 38 year ago – the nation's highest honor that is bestowed upon an Article III federal judge – Julie Opperman has extended that mission to the creation of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Woman of Leadership Award in early 2020. A decades-long friend of Dwight Opperman, Ginsburg had personally asked Julie to establish and carry out her sole legacy award. Honored to fulfill the request, she has selected the Library of Congress as the permanent home of the annual ceremony and gala. Dwight and Julie Opperman had been long-term donors of the Library and are delighted that this latest donation will further help the Library to be far more reaching and responsive to the public.  

Celebrating its 220th year as a center of knowledge and preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage, the Library aims to bring more of its collections out of the vaults and into public spaces and online presentations.

Three core components are central to the visitor experience plan. These include a new ground-level orientation gallery in the Thomas Jefferson Building to help visitors navigate the Library and understand its history, a new learning lab to engage and inspire visitors and new exhibitions to feature the Library’s treasures.

The Opperman gift will build on the significant investments of Congress and private philanthropy in the Library’s infrastructure. Earlier in 2020, philanthropist David Rubenstein announced a lead gift of $10 million to support the visitor experience plan, and the Annenberg Foundation donated $1 million, as well as a collection of photographic prints. Design work is now underway for the project.

The visitor experience project has continued to receive support from Congress, with $20 million appropriated so far as part of this public-private partnership.

While Congress has invested generously in the Library over its history since 1800, private philanthropy also has played an important role in the development of the Library and other cultural institutions. Private sector donors have funded exhibitions and programs, including the creation of the Library’s John W. Kluge Center and Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity, which is currently honoring political theorist Danielle Allen, as well as creation of the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia.

Courtesy of Potter & Potter

This 1935 color lithograph of Berlin by German illustrator Jupp Wiertz realized $2,400.

Chicago — Potter & Potter Auctions' November 14, 2020 Vintage Posters, Prints, and Works on Paper sale captured the imagination of collectors worldwide.  When the hammer fell silent after a very long day of bidding, 122 lots realized $500-$999; 44 lots scored $1,000-$2,499; and seven lots made $2,500+. Prices noted include the company's 20% buyer's premium.

Posters promoting overseas destinations took several of the top slots in this exciting sale.
•    Lot #220, a poster for the London Underground illustrated by Sybil Andrews (1898-1992) and featuring cricket players, traded hands at $2,040. From 1925 to 1935, Andrews designed nine posters for the London Underground.
•    Lot #161, a stunning lithograph for Soviet Armenia by Sergey Igumnov (1900–1942), brought $2,040. Produced in 1935 in the USSR by Intourist, this poster touted the Soviet’s engineering skills and advanced modern machinery of the period.
•    Lot #716, a 1930-era poster for the Moscow Theatre Festival, was estimated at $500-700 and made $3,120. This westernized Art Deco image was printed by the Soviet state travel agency to attract foreign visitors, especially those versed in English.
•    Lot #366, Berlin Evening Near the Memorial Church for the German National Railway delivered $2,400 - six times its low estimate. This 1935 color lithograph by German illustrator Jupp Wiertz (1888-1939) featured a neon colored Berlin at night.
•    Lot #368, a poster promoting the island of Bermuda was estimated at $900-1,200 and sold for $2,640. It was produced for Pan Am in the 1960s and was illustrated with two happy go lucky tourists on a moped.

As noted in previous Potter & Potter events, posters featuring Indian themes, destinations, and events generated spirited bidding - and results!
•    Lot #153,  a color lithograph Fly Jet to India / Pan American World Airways travel poster from the 1950s was estimated at $250-350 and soared to $2,640. It featured the top of a majestic, many spired building against a vivid blue sky.
•    Lot #157, Dorrie Newsome's colorful stone lithograph of an oceanside city in India was estimated at $300-500 and realized $1,920. It was printed in Calcutta by the E.I.R. Press in 1938.
•    Lot #160, Sobha Singn's Kashmir / Indian Railways was estimated at $200-300 and made $1,560. This colorful lithograph of native people and animals against a hilly landscape, was printed in Bombay by G. Claridge.

20th century posters for iconic domestic travel destinations also produced first class results.
•    Lot #279, an example illustrated with a bird's eye view of NYC's Rockefeller Center for New York Central Lines scored $6,000. This lithograph was rendered by artist Leslie Ragan (1897-1972) and produced in Long Island City, NY by Latham Litho. & Ptg. in 1936.
•    Lot #141, Pan Am’s World / Hawaii USA from the 1970s was estimated at $250-350 and sold for $1,560. This photo-offset poster of palm trees silhouetted against a dusky sky was designed by Ivan Chermayeff’s agency, and was one of several posters from Pan Am featured at an exhibit held at the Museum of Modern Art.
•    Lot #330, Squaw Valley / Lake Tahoe from the 1950s more than doubled its high estimate to make $3,360. This rare stone lithograph featured the ski resort's (at the time) “world’s largest ski lift."

Vintage postcards collections were another key category in this sale and truly delivered.
•    Lot #766, a collection of 700+ Black Americana postcards sold for $2,040. This well curated collection included images of babies and young children, watermelon eating, cotton picking, leather postcards, French advertisements, trade cards, servants, chicken thieves, and many others.
•    Lot #785, a collection 800+ postcards of diners and roadside stops from the 1930s/50s was estimated at $600-800 and made $2,400. Featured images included diners, Greyhound bus stops, motels, state parks, dealerships and service stops, gas stations, restaurants, and drive-ins.
•    Lot #772, a collection of 200+ postcards devoted to Coney Island, was estimated at $125-225 and realized $1,200. Most of the cards were pre-1920; scenes and views included Luna Park, Dreamland, Shooting the Chutes, Japanese Café, views from the ocean, Surf Avenue, Dragon’s Gorge, and others.

Historical broadsides, product advertising posters, and works from modern masters brought this signature sales event full circle.
•    Lot #563, Marc Chagall's (1887-1985) color litho Springtime in the Meadow, from Daphnis and Chloe, brought $2,880. This work was from an edition of 250, set in a gilt wooden frame with linen matting, and bore a gallery label of Phillip E. Freed to its verso.
•    Lot #497, a South African WWI recruitment poster depicting a bust portrait of General Smuts was estimated at $100-200 and delivered $1,020.
•    Lot #451, an original Jaguar showroom poster with a dramatic image of the XK120 shooting down a track under the pre-dawn sky was estimated at $200-300 and crossed the finish line at $1,920. This 1952 example, titled Dawn at Montlhery, was designed by Roy Nockolds (1911-1979), a British artist specializing in motoring images and advertising.

According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "This was our most successful poster sale to date, with an astonishingly high sell-through rate and results that speak for themselves. Our next auction of vintage posters is already in the works for 2021."

Courtesy of Bonhams

The bill for flowers at Oscar Wilde’s funeral, from the Jeremy Mason Collection.

London — On 30 November 1900 in a rundown Paris hotel, the poet, dramatist, novelist, and society wit Oscar Wide died. Now, 120 years after his passing, Bonhams announces a major new exhibition dedicated to Wilde’s life and works to be staged at its London headquarters, 101 New Bond Street. Oscar Wilde: A Man for Our Times runs from 15-23 February 2021.

The exhibition features the collection of noted Wilde collector, bibliophile, and former dealer in Oriental antiques, Jeremy Mason, who has been collecting Wilde memorabilia for the last 55 years. The extensive collection of 500 books, files and boxes has been distilled to showcase the many facets of Wilde’s remarkable life and will present fascinating and rare highlights, including:

    •    Portrait of Oscar Wilde by the famous New York photographer Sarony taken in 1882. Wilde’s flamboyant attire, went viral: his velvet coat, knee-breeches, silk stockings, and patent leather shoes had one Midwest journalist wondering whether the fashionable young men of Milwaukee would “fear that their calves are wanting in symmetry”.
    •    Autograph letter signed to Ada Leverson, [February 1895]. Written to thank the critic Leverson – always known to Wilde as ‘The Sphinx’ – for her glowing review of the first night of The Importance of Being Earnest. “Dear Sphinx, You are more than all criticisms. I have merely to thank you again and again for your desire to sound in my honour a daffodil-shaped horn… Bosie sends sweet words, and so does our Scotch friend Ross.” By April Wilde was in prison awaiting trial.

    •    The bill for flowers at Oscar Wilde’s funeral, made out to Robert Ross, amounting to 77 francs, submitted by Maison Helbig of 10 Boulevard Malesherbes, Paris, 2 December 1900.
    •    Two delightful unpublished letters to a child, Beatrice Faudel-Phillips, in which Wilde warns that ‘People who break their engagements …..eventually become so stout, that their waistcoats don’t fit them, and the Doctors don’t allow them to eat whipped cream, ices, or indeed sweet things of any description’ and describes himself as a “wall flower” who does not dance any more.

Jeremy Mason first entered the world of Wilde collecting when he purchased actor Ernest Thesiger’s first edition copy of The Importance of Being Earnest. As Jeremy himself explains: “The collection just grew from there and now contains books, letters and manuscripts from each period of Wilde’s life from childhood, school years, America, his fame as an author, the theatre ‘golden years’, and the tragedy and exile.”

“Most importantly the collection has been enhanced by the inclusion of evocative items of ephemera which have added colour to the Wilde story and were so important to me when deciding which other items to add.”

Bonhams Head of Fine Books and Manuscripts Matthew Haley said: “It’s a great privilege to be hosting this wonderfully exciting and rich collection. In the 120 years since his death, Wilde’s reputation has swung from moral degenerate to gay icon, but public interest in this complicated and talented man has never dimmed. This promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime show and the exhibition will be accompanied by a special catalogue, creating a permanent record of Jeremy Mason’s extraordinary collection.”


Amsterdam — With a particular focus on American artists and photographers, this auction offers artists from a wide variety of countries. These include Richard Hamilton (GB), Maurizo Cattelan (Italy), Tacita Dean (GB), Rodney Graham (CAN), Kippenberger (Germany).

Courtesy of ILAB

In April earlier this year, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers held a webinar with booksellers from across the globe to look at the immediate effect of the COVID pandemic on the rare book trade.
Since April, staff was furloughed, came back and was sent home again as some countries are now experiencing a new wave of infections and restrictions. Bookshops were boarded off and later reopened under strict hygienic measures. Some are closed again. Institutions shifted their budgets to 2021, some demanded much longer admin time than usual, others only recently moved their staff out of home office. Nearly all book fairs were cancelled and the concept of virtual fairs gained momentum. Online platforms saw a major increase in traffic and customers.
How has the rare book trade adapted to this new landscape eight months on?

How did booksellers handle this extreme situation and what have we learned we can share with our colleagues?

Can we take some positives from 2020 and apply to a post-COVID world?
Sally Burdon, ILAB President and moderator of the event, will speak again to:

Mario Giupponi, Italy
Brad Johnson, US
Pom Harrington, UK
Ryu Sato, Japan
Hervé Valentin, France
and Sibylle Wieduwilt, Germany

DATE: 7th December 2020 at 1pm London time

Further sample times:
Los Angeles: 5am
New York: 8am
London: 1pm
Berlin, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Stockholm: 2pm
Moscow: 4pm
Tokyo: 10pm
Canberra: 00:00 midnight

Please use the following link and register (only name and email address necessary):
The webinar will take place in English language.

Further information via the ILAB Office:
Angelika Elstner
Executive Secretary  
International League of Antiquarian Booksellers - ILAB
+27 76 402 39 77

Courtesy of Cowan's

A 1776 letter from a Continental Army soldier to his father detailing the disastrous loss at the Battle of Long Island (Est. $500 - $700) sold for $11,250.

Cincinnati, OH – Cowan’s American Historical Ephemera and Photography auction surpassed expectations achieving a sales total of $701,849 against a presale estimate of $409,700 - $615,750. The November 19 auction also saw 93% of the auction’s 414 lots sell with nearly a third selling above their presale estimates.
“I am proud of all that the team at Cowan's and Hindman have accomplished in a year filled with so many unique challenges,” said Katie Horstman, Senior Specialist of American Historical Ephemera and Photography. “This was the highest sell through rate for a various-owner sale in my 13 year career – this is a great time to sell at auction.”
The top lot of the day was an extensive archive of Medal of Honor winner and Civil War hero Lt. General Nelson A. Miles (Lot 322). The Miles archive featured over 300 items detailing Indian Wars campaigns, including his interactions with Sitting Bull and Chief Joseph. The archive was consigned by a direct descendant of Miles, increasing its appeal and drawing a great deal of attention from prominent book and manuscript dealers from across the country. Ultimately, the archive sold to a private collector for $87,500 against an estimate of $30,000 - $50,000.
Another archive of note from the auction was a collection of photographs and manuscripts from a member of the 7th Cavalry (Lot 328) serving under the notorious Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer.  At the heart of the archive was a collection of stereoviews purportedly once owned by Custer’s wife, Elizabeth, that included never before seen views of Little Bighorn, Miles City, and Fort Keogh. Estimated at $10,000 - $15,000, the lot nearly tripled its estimate selling for $26,250.
In the early photography category, an extraordinarily rare half plate daguerreotype of a California gold mining camp (Lot 376) more than doubled its estimate selling for $36,250. The photograph depicted six men posed around a large depression at the Angel’s Camp gold mine in Calaveras County, California. Daguerreotypes of gold mining scenes are rare to begin with, but adding to the desirability of the lot, the mining camp and miners themselves were identified.
Other notable lots from the auction include:
    •    Lot 247 – A sixth plate daguerreotype of bare-knuckle boxer John Morrissey, circa mid-1850s (Est. $10,000 - $15,000) – Sold for $15,000
    •    Lot 406 – A 1903 letter written and signed by William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody describing the battle of Warbonnet Creek and the killing of Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hand (Est. $12,000 - $16,000) – Sold for $13,125
    •    Lot 7 – A 1776 letter from a Continental Army soldier to his father detailing the disastrous loss at the Battle of Long Island (Est. $500 - $700) – Sold for $11,250
The American Historical Ephemera and Photography auction was held November 19 with all bidders and staff participating virtually. Bidding was available via absentee bid, over the phone, and live online using one of four online bidding platforms. Phone bidders drove most of the action accounting for nearly half of the sale’s total, although, as has been the case throughout 2020, the auction saw heavy online bidding with more than 40% of the total coming from online bidders.
Cowan’s is now inviting American Historical Ephemera and Photography consignments for several 2021 auctions. The next auction in the category will be a February auction dedicated entirely to African Americana. For more information, please visit

Courtesy of Potter & Potter

A presentation copy of Ricky Jay's Extraordinary Exhibitions, is estimated at $400-600.

Chicago — Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce this nearly 500 lot sale to be held on Saturday, December 12th starting at 10am CST. Given current public health regulations, the event will be held online and live streamed from the company's gallery. All bidding will take place through the company's website at Phone and absentee bids are also welcome. All items are available for in-person preview now, by appointment only.  

As expected, breathtaking props made by Owen Magic Supreme take several of the top slots in this exciting sale.
•    Lot #90, Marvyn Roy’s Lady in the Diamond Illusion, is estimated at $5,000-10,000. This trick consists of a giant jewelry box resting on a low platform. It is opened, revealing a huge diamond, studded with rhinestones. The gem is replaced, the lid closed, and moments later when the box is reopened, a woman springs from the box. It was used throughout Roy’s tours as an opening act with Liberace.
•    Lot #67, a Palladian Lock from the 1990s, is estimated at $3,000-6,000. With this illusion, a giant brass padlock is closed and locked with a key by a spectator, who holds it high overhead. From across the stage, the magician turns another key in mid-air, pointing it at the lock all the while. As the key turns, the lock opens in the spectator’s hand.
•    Lot #6, a Growing Ball from the 1990s, is estimated at $2,500-5,000. Here, a small billiard ball is placed in a cabinet resting atop a pedestal. Visibly, the ball gradually expands to many times its original size and is removed from the cabinet. This illusion is enabled via an electronic mechanism, fine mechanical works, and a wireless remote control.
•    Lot #83, a finely made example of the company's classic Rice, Grapefruit, and Checkers transposition trick from 1995, is estimated at $2,000-4,000. With this illusion, a quantity of dry rice, a stack of checkers, and a bright grapefruit change places on command, between a turned wooden vase and two decorated canisters.   

Vintage props, with robust provenance or industry significance, are also well represented at this sale.
•    Lot #397, Dai Vernon’s Harlequin Act Linking Rings, is estimated at $5,000-10,000. This set of giant rings consists of two single rings, one key, and one linked pair. Vernon brought this ancient trick, in which the solid rings apparently link and unlink in a dizzying and deceptive sequence along with noises and chimes, to new heights using this custom made set.
•    Lot #105, F.G. Thayer's The Voice from the Great Beyond, is estimated at $2,000-4,000. This rare example, from the 1930s, is the Thayer version of D.P. Abbott’s Talking Teakettle. The gold leaf gesso-covered vase answers questions posed by audience volunteers in a ghostly voice.  
•    Lot #63, an Eclipse Vanishing Lamp from 1966, is estimated at $1,500-3,000. Here, an illuminated electrical lamp is wrapped in paper and lifted from the table. The paper is crushed; the lamp is gone. This rare example in fine condition, produced by Owen Magic Supreme in 1966, was recreated from an original Thayer Magic Company pattern.  

Stunning broadsides promoting some of the most famous 20th century illusionists are certain to catch the eye of collectors worldwide.
•    Lot #448, Howard Thurston's Thurston Magician and Daughter Jane. Wonder Show of the Universe, is estimated at $7,000-9,000. This 1920s-era, linen backed color litho features the performer's daughter, Jane, billed alongside him.
•    Lot #413, Alexander's Alexander. The Man Who Knows, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This example from 1915 was printed in Bombay by Av Yaga and depicts the mind-reader holding a crystal ball as he gazes at the viewer.
•    Lot #423, a 1910-era Chung Ling Soo. A Name to Conjure With poster, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This color litho depicts the legacy magician juggling lanterns spelling out his name, flanked by a spritely lady and dragon.  

Also available are a number of magic related scrapbooks and archives, offering researchers and historians a goldmine of firsthand data, observations, and materials.
•    Lot #240, a scrapbook from magician, escape artist, and mentalist Joseph Dunninger (1882-1975) is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This collection from 1911-17 includes 60 leaves filled with letters, photographs, and clippings highlighting the performer's achievements.
•    Lot #113, a collection of eleven Owen Magic Supreme guestbooks from 1966-2020 is estimated at $1,500-3,000. These include the signatures of the magicians, designers, promoters, and customers who patronized the magic manufacturing firm over the course of half a century and include luminaries like Doug Henning, Charles Reynolds, Don Bice, Fred Kaps, Eric Lewis, Ricky Jay, Siegfried & Roy, Dai Vernon, and hundreds of others.
•    Lot #306, a group of published and unpublished Charlie Miller (1909-1989) manuscripts and correspondence, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This collection includes over 120 pages and is a unique and significant archive of secrets and information related to the life, career, and magic of one of magic’s great unsung sleight-of-hand artists.

Fine century-spanning magic books are bound to be best sellers at this can't miss auction event.
•    Lot #254, a first edition copy of Harry Houdini's The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, is estimated at $1,800-2,400. This book was published 1908 in New York by The Publishers Printing Company and is signed by Houdini: “With compliments of the author/Harry Houdini/Aug 10-1912.”
•    Lot #214, Strozzi Cicogna's (1568-1605) Del Palagio De Gl’incanti Et Delle Gran Meraviglie De Gli Spiriti & Di Tutta La Natura Loro, is estimated at $1,500-2,500. This first edition from 1605 is a rare example of the author’s most important work on occultism. It was published simultaneously, by four different publishers, in Venice and Brescia. This is the first copy of this imprint at auction in over 70 years; only one institutional copy was traced, at Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
•    Lot #257, a presentation copy of Ricky Jay's Extraordinary Exhibitions, is estimated at $400-600. This first edition was published in 2005 in New York by Quantuck Lane Press and is inscribed and signed to the former owner. This lot includes the letterpress broadside advertising the book and the publisher’s complimentary pictorial bookmark.

Ephemera, artwork, and other can't look away magic-related antiques bring this event full circle.
•    Lot #351, a sepia toned portrait of Beatrice Houdini inscribed and signed to Dai Vernon, is estimated at $800-1,200. This image dates from around 1915 and includes a letter of provenance from Vernon’s son, Derek.
•    Lot #296, a sculpture by Toni Moretto (1929 – 2011) is estimated at $1,200-2,400. This caricaturish porcelain work depicts a magician standing behind his table laden with cards, props, books, and flowers, with a set of linking rings in his hands.
•    Lot #442, a signed, hand painted magician sideshow banner by Fred Johnson (1892-1990) is estimated at $2,500-5,000. It was produced in Chicago around 1955 by O’Henry Tent & Awning and features a full-length portrait of the conjurer at the center, livestock and props filling out the scene.  

According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "The name "Owen Magic Supreme" looms large in the history of magic, and we are honored to be offering relics and props from the company's 100+ year history in our December auction. There has been a lot of buzz in the industry about the future of Owen's business - the company is now available for sale - and when you look at the scope of what it produced over the years, it's easy to understand why its stellar reputation has persisted for over a century. We're excited for auction day, and equally enthusiastic that someone new will step up to the helm of Owen to "keep the wheels turning," as the saying goes. On a personal note, I am also thrilled to bring so many important props from Dai Vernon's legendary Harlequin Act to the auction block, in concert with memorabilia and props from the career of his counterpart, Charlie Miller."

Courtesy of Christopher Bishop Fine Art

Arthur Rackham's The Tempest, 1926.

New York — The lines between art, science and magic are explored in a new exhibition at Christopher Bishop Fine Art. The Magic of the Draughtsman: Images of the Occult presents nearly 20 Old Master and early modern drawings from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century. Many of the works are being exhibited in New York City for the first time. The exhibition is on view in the gallery through December 18, 2020, and will be available in an online viewing room. A fully illustrated online catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

From witches and satyrs to angels and mermaids, the exhibition surveys pre-modern views of the occult, mysticism, and alchemy, topics that often neither science nor philosophy can fully address. Among the highlights are images from mythology, religion, and Shakespeare, which have inspired artists through the ages.

A drawing by Jacopo Ligozzi (Italian 1547-1627) presents a musical competition, The Contest of Apollo and Pan c. 1590. Ligozzi, who was often commissioned by the Medici family of Florence, was interested in the power of images to be a conduit for prosperity, in order to bring about a golden age. He may have viewed the drawing as a talisman to ward off evil. The drawing is on public view in New York for the first time.

A mysterious calm pervades an intriguing underwater scene as mermaids toll the bell for Shakespeare’s dead king in The Tempest. The 1926 drawing by Arthur Rackham (British 1867-1939) underscores the expression “sea change,” which was coined by Shakespeare in the play. “Full fathom five thy father lies…/ Nothing of him that doth fade/ But doth suffer a sea-change/ Into something rich and strange.”

Another Shakespearean character from The Tempest was depicted by the painter John Trumbull (British/American, 1756-1843), who was friends with America’s founding fathers and became famous for his historical paintings of the American Revolutionary War. His drawing of Prospero, 1784, one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic characters known for his use of magical powers, could be a metaphor for American optimism and ambition.

The Magic of the Draughtsman also includes a drawing by a draughtswoman. The only surviving work attributed to the artist Anna Hoffman (Swiss, born 1622-3) depicts a scene that could be termed white magic. The resurrected Christ reveals himself as a messiah to two surprised pilgrims at dinner in The Supper at Emmaus. The drawing is dated c. 1642 and is inscribed in a way that speaks volumes about how women artists were described during the Renaissance. The copy reads in German on the back of the drawing as “by Hoffmann’s daughter in Basel.” Anna Hoffman’s father was Samuel Hoffmann (1591-1648), the Swiss painter who trained in Rubens’ studio. Recent scholarship has shown that the rest of her work and her name were lost to history.