Courtesy of Christie's

La Fontaine, Les Fables, Paris. Saillant. 1755-1759. Sold for €274,000

Paris — The "Bibliothèque de Martine de Béhague et des comtes de Ganay" hosted by Christie’s on 26 November attracted international collectors from 14 countries and achieved €1,640,250, selling 93% by value and 77% by lot.

Adrien Legendre, Head of Christie’s Paris Books and Manuscripts Department: “It has been a great pleasure to work on such fantastic books coming from Martine de Béhague’s collection, books that never appeared on the market for over a century. We are especially honoured that the Ganay family entrusted Christie’s to organise this sale. Today's results confirm collectors’ appetite for exceptional copies and particularly for illustrated books such as the famous edition of the Fables choisies by Jean de la Fontaine richly illustrated by Jean-Baptiste Oudry. This copy, bound by the King’s binding workshops for the Count of Artois and with all the plates hand-coloured, sold for €274,000 against a presale estimate of €150,000-200,000.”

Another strong result was achieved for a first edition of Philibert de l’Orme’s architecture treatise Le premier tome de l’architecture in a lavishly inlaid binding, which has been acquired for €237,500.

The exceptionally bound copy of the first edition of the Livre de la Conqueste de la Toison d’or, by Jacques Gohory and Leonard Thiry sold for €137,500, while a unique copy of the Moyen pour augmenter les revenus du royaume de plusieurs millions, by Gabriel de Querbrat printed for Jean-Baptiste Colbert realised €62,500. We can also mention a precious manuscript finely illuminated by Jean Cousin, coming from the Ambroise Firmin-Didot collection, which has been acquired for €55,000.

Finally, a copy of the rare 1651 edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Traité de la peinture has also attracted collectors, and sold for €30,000, more than doubling its presale estimate of €8,000-12,000.

Please find the full results here.

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Dallas, TX – An extraordinarily rare jumbo lobby card for Dracula (Universal) sold for nearly five times its estimate to bring $192,000 in Heritage Auctions’ Movie Poster Auction Nov. 23-24. The 14-inch by 17-inch card is especially unique because it was owned by actor Bela Lugosi, the actor who played the title role in the 1931 classic. The entire sale brought $2,504,814, the highest grossing movie poster auction of the year.

“We knew collectors were going to be excited by this particular piece,” said Grey Smith, Director of Posters at Heritage. “Not only is it of unquestionable rarity, the fact it came from Lugosi’s private collection makes it a true piece of cinematic history.”
 
A rare Russian poster for one of the most effective propaganda films of all time sold for $108,000, beating high expectations. Never before offered by Heritage, the rare Battleship Potemkin (SovKino, R-1929) Russian Poster was one of a pair of Russian Constructivist posters offered in the sale. The second was a poster for October 1917 (Ten Days that Shook the World) (Sovkino, 1928) sold for $43,200. Constructivism is an artistic and architectural philosophy that started in Russia in 1913 by painter and architect Vladimir Tatlin, who wanted to “construct” art. Both posters were printed before World War II, which decimated so much of Russia, including paper goods. It’s believed only a handful of such posters survived.

A pair of Italian post-World War II photobustas for Casablanca (Warner Bros., 1946) brought $90,000 as a single lot. A photobusta is a poster of unique size, in this case 19-1/4 inches by 13-1/2 inches. The photobustas are from the film’s original Italian release, heightening collector demand. Three additional photobustas for Casablanca offered in the sale sold among the auction’s top 10 lots.

A stunning lobby card for Frankenstein (Universal, 1931) ended at $78,000. The card is notable because the final image is from a test shot just before makeup artist Jack Pierce finalized the monster's makeup. The only difference between the final look and the image on the montage card are the prominent bolts on the forehead.

Topping $66,000 was a massive three sheet poster for the historic film The Jazz Singer (Warner Bros., 1927). Measuring 40 inches by 80-1/4 inches, it is the only three sheet poster known to exist and made its auction debut at Heritage. The film broke box office records and is traditionally credited with single-handedly launching the “talkie” revolution.
 
Rounding out the top 10 most expensive lots is a bright and bold Werewolf in London (Universal, 1935) one sheet, which sold for $60,000 and a lobby card for The Invisible Man (Universal, 1933), which ended at $57,600.
 
Additional highlights include a scarce selection of detailed background matte paintings from the collection of sci-fi artist Syd Dutton. Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Qo'noS First City” (Paramount, 1990) hammered for $31,200 and Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Romulus” (Paramount, 1987) ended at $20,400. Star Trek: Deep Space 9, “Cardassia Prime” (Paramount, 1990s) sold for $16,800. Dune: Giedi Prime by Syd Dutton (Universal, 1984); Original Screen-Used Matte Painting on Board in Frame sold above estimate at $9,000 and Star Trek: Voyager, Ocampa Underground City by Syd Dutton (Paramount, 1995) also beat expectations to sell for $8,400.
 
Heritage Auctions offers weekly online sales of more than 500 lots of vintage posters and film memorabilia, which close every Sunday evening. The next large signature auction is scheduled for March 21-22 with a Jan. 28 consignment deadline. Visit MoviePosters.HA.com for more information.

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Courtesy of Quinn's Auction Galleries

Lydia Lopokova, An Album of Camera Portraits, 1920, with cover art by Arabella Yorke, portrait frontispiece in sanguine by Glyn Philpot, nine full-page pochoir illustrations, and a portrait by Picasso. Estimate $200-$400

Falls Church, VA – On Thursday, Dec. 12, Quinn’s Auction Galleries will host a single-consignor auction of the Getz-McDonagh Dance Library, a 60-year privately held assemblage of historical literature, correspondence, ephemera and illustrations pertaining to classical dance. Originally known as the Getz Dance Library, in reference to its founder Leslie Getz (1945-2019), it is also known to many in the dance community internationally as the Getz-McDonagh Dance Library. Donald McDonagh is Leslie Getz’s steadfastly supportive husband, who shared his wife’s passion for dance and took an active partnership role in the library’s growth and maintenance until the day of his wife’s passing.

Leslie Getz’s June 2, 2019 obituary in the New York Times described her as “a widely known, valued and admired member of the New York City dance community,” noting that she also created, edited and published Attitudes and Arabesques, a monthly newsletter of worldwide dance periodicals and publications.

“Leslie and Donald occupied two New York apartments belonging to Columbia University, one of them allocated entirely to the library,” said Catherine Payling, director of Quinn’s Rare Books division. “They were devoted to dance and served as lifetime stewards to an extraordinary archive that has few peers, if any, since much of it was amassed at a time when the field of dance literature was still in its infancy.”

The library’s 6,800+ books and thousands of periodicals, souvenir programs, press kits, annotated playbills and other ephemera will be offered by Quinn’s in approximately 350 auction lots. Also included is a small selection of dance illustrations.

One of the top highlights is Ballet by Alexey Brodovich, a 1945 collection of his photographs of dancers. From a small edition of 500, the book was designed with stiff cardboard “boards” that would have tended to become fragile over time. The library example is in uncommonly nice condition with its dust jacket. Estimate: $800-$1,200

Le Ballet, by Boris Kochno with Maria Luz, published in 1954 by Hachette, France, features a Matisse (French, 1869-1954) illustration of a ballerina on its binding and the bonus inclusion of a Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) lithograph, which is still present in the book to be auctioned. “It is unusual to find a copy of this book with the lithograph intact,” Payling observed. Estimate: $400-$600

A 1920 book titled Lydia Lopokova, An Album of Camera Portraits, is dance-focused but not expressly about ballet. The cover art is by Arabella Yorke, while the portrait frontispiece in sanguine was created by Glyn Philpot. Additionally, there are nine full-page pochoir illustrations, an interior portrait by Picasso, three decorations, and an appreciation by publisher Cyril W. Beaumont, London. Its estimate is $200-$400.

A 1935 Cyril Beaumont-authored and published book titled Michel Fokine & His Ballets is a hardcover octavo edition with gilt lettering and decoration on the spine. The book contains Fokine’s uncommonly encountered ink signature on a plate pasted onto the title page. The auction estimate is $100-$200. Beaumont, who wrote extensively about ballet, also edited the four-volume A Bibliography of the Dance Collection of Doris Niles & Serge Leslie, published 1966-1981. The set is offered at auction together with an unpublished Serge Leslie typescript about Beaumont, with tipped-in photographs and handwritten edits, contained in a three-ring binder. The lot also includes a 1998 letter from Leslie to Getz, and a photo of the three friends. Estimate: $100-$200

Two sketches of female dancers by Robert Huot, which were artist-signed and inscribed, then gifted to Donald McDonagh by the artist and his then-wife Twyla Tharp, are entered in the sale with a $160-$260 estimate. Other lots with a direct connection to legends of modern dance include a 1920 two-volume set titled Ruth St Denis: Pioneer and Prophet, authored by Ted Shawn and signed by both Shawn and St Denis. In 1915, St Denis and Shawn presciently founded the Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts in Los Angeles. It was the first dance academy in the United States to produce a professional dance company and included amongst its students Martha Graham, Charles Weidman and even the silent film star Louise Brooks. The two-volume set is estimated at $200-$300. Also, there are books and items of ephemera signed by Isadora Duncan, Margot Fonteyn, Alicia Markova, Maya Plisetskaya, and others.

Evidence of the warm friendships fostered within the dance and greater arts communities during the 20th century is clearly seen in the collection of 18 letters, notes and telegrams to and from Doris Niles, Serge Leslie and Sacheverell Sitwell, a noted art and music critic, and poet. The intimate archive from the 1970s/’80s also includes seven softbound books of poems by Sitwell, in a pink and purple case. Estimate: $200-$400

Also featured in the auction is an unbroken run of issues of Dance Magazine dating back to 1948; and issues of Britain’s Dancing Times dating as early as 1918. “Leslie Getz put protective wrappers around all of her books and publications, so the magazines are in beautiful, clean condition,” Payling said.

The Dec. 12, 2019 auction of the Getz-McDonagh Dance Library will commence at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. For additional information about any item in the sale, call Catherine Payling at 703-532-5632 ext. 575, or email catherine.payling@quinnsauction.com. For preview times, visit Quinn’s online at www.quinnsauction.com. The entire auction catalog may be viewed online via LiveAuctioneers.

 

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Courtesy of Bonhams

Charlton Heston’s copy of Macbeth: A Tragedy. Acted at the Dukes-Theatre, 1673. Estimate: $80,000-120,000

New York — Away from the silver screen, Hollywood legend Charlton Heston – best remembered as the embodiment of the strong silent hero in films such as Ben Hur and El Cid – was an avid collector of rare books. Heston’s exceptionally scarce 1673 copy of Macbeth (a play he acted in several times in his parallel career as a stage actor) comes to Bonhams Sale of Fine Literature, featuring two Private Collections, in New York on Thursday 5 December.  It is estimated at $80,000-120,000.

Macbeth was among the 36 plays by Shakespeare printed in the First Folio of 1623, but it was not printed as a separate work until this edition of 1673, both the first separate printing and the first quarto edition. Only three copies of the 1673 edition have been noted in private hands, but unlike the Heston copy, the other two are missing the final two leaves. The 1673 Macbeth was, also, the first Shakespeare play published during the Restoration revival of his work, solidifying his reputation for future generations.

Bonhams senior specialist in Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts in New York, Darren Sutherland said, “Heston started his career as a Shakespearean actor, and felt a particular connection to Macbeth, which he acted more than any other. ‘All great roles are Shakespearean,’ he once said. According to the Heston family, this copy was a gift from his wife presented to him after a memorable 1950’s stage performance. As it turned out, and I don’t think she knew, it’s very rare – as far as we know, the only complete copy of the first quarto Macbeth in private hands – and its reappearance at auction marks a marvellous opportunity to acquire a remarkable copy of an important work.”
 
Other works by Shakespeare in the sale include:
    •    The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. London, 1676 – the first edition of Henry Davenant's stage version. $15,000-$25,000
    •    The History of King Lear. London, 1681 – the first edition of Nahum Tate's adaptation in which Lear recovers his throne and Cordelia is happily married. $10,000-$15,000
    •    Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. The Fourth Folio. London, 1685. The fourth folio edition of "most important work in the English language." $20,000-$30,000
    •    Julius Caesar. A Tragedy. London, 1684. The first separate and first quarto edition of one of Shakespeare's most popular plays. $20,000-$30,000

Link to sale on-line here: https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/25264/

The First Folio is the name commonly given to a collection of 36 of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death.  It was compiled by two of Shakespeare’s colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell, and is widely regarded as the most reliable source for many of the plays.

A quarto is a book or publication made up of full sheets of paper on which eight pages of text have been printed. These are then folded twice to produce four leaves known as a quire which can then be sown together with other quires to form a book. 18 of Shakespeare’s plays appeared in quarto form before the First Folio edition in 1623 but Macbeth was not among them.

Courtesy of Bonhams

Part of the original artwork for Tim to the Rescue by Edward Ardizzone. Estimate £30,000-50,000

London — The complete artwork for the much-loved children’s picture book, Tim to the Rescue, by Edward Ardizzone is to be offered at Bonham Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on Wednesday 4 December. It is estimated at £30,000-50,000.
 
Published by Oxford University Press in 1949, Tim to the Rescue is the third in Ardizzone’s Little Tim series of picture books which began with the publication of Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain in 1936. The adventures of Tim – all of which take place at sea – quickly gripped the imagination of children on both sides of the Atlantic. When Ardizzone returned from military service as an official war artist in World War II, he began work on a new tale, which, like its predecessors, he both wrote and illustrated. Tim to the Rescue introduces Ginger, a mischievous cabin boy whose life Tim saves during a storm and who reappears later in the series.
 
Writing in the winter edition of Bonhams Magazine, the writer, broadcaster and Ardizzone enthusiast Stephen Fry said, “I only have to catch sight of the name Edward Ardizzone to be transported back to my childhood. The scrap-faced and often undernourished children that people his illustrations never tried to offer me friendship and comfort or to welcome me into an attractive and happy lifestyle – I think that is why I trusted them. They promised a true escape from adult, or cutesy children’s worlds.”
 
The sale also includes the complete artwork for Diana and Her Rhinoceros, estimated at £10,000-20,000. The story tells of the calm reaction of a young girl, Diana, when a rhinoceros appears in her suburban house, after which a beautiful lifelong relationship ensues between the two. Published in 1964, it was inspired by Ardizzone’s visits to his daughter Christianna's family in Richmond.
 
The artwork is being sold by Ardizzone’s grandson, Dominic Clemence who said, “My grandfather was a wonderful storyteller, and used to entertain my mother and her brothers with stories, which later became manuscripts for the Little Tim series. The proceeds from the sale will benefit his great, great grandchildren, and he would be delighted to know that his work is still being of great support to his family.”
 
Bonhams Head of Books and Manuscripts, Matthew Haley said, “Edward Ardizzone’s Tim books are a magical and much-cherished part of so many people’s childhoods. The original artwork is wonderfully fresh, and a real insight into how Ardizzone was able to create his memorable characters with such economy of word and line.”
 
Link to online catalogue: https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/25356

 

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New York — The New York Public Library has acquired by purchase and gift a collection of rarely seen Virginia Woolf material, including extensive correspondence, rare printed books, and unique material such as photographs, original artwork, and ephemera (including Woolf’s passport).

The collection of 153 items—which was assembled over five decades by William Beekman—will join the Library’s existing Virginia Woolf holdings in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, accessible from the Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. With this new acquisition, The New York Public Library holds what is arguably the most complete and important collection of Virginia Woolf material in the world.

The Library’s Berg Collection is currently home to Virginia Woolf’s diaries and notebooks; draft material for all of her works of fiction; nearly 3,000 pieces of incoming and outgoing correspondence, as well as photographs; books; legal documents; and her walking stick. The existing collection, which spans the years 1888 to 1941, numbers nearly 3,700 individual items and began with the acquisition of Woolf’s diaries in 1958, directly from her husband, Leonard Woolf.

“Virginia Woolf’s writings are essential to literary modernism, long one of the core collecting areas—and one of the most frequently accessed—of the Berg Collection at The New York Public Library,” said Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries, William Kelly. “The acquisition of the William Beekman Collection of Virginia Woolf and Her Circle adds extraordinary depth to what is already one of the Berg’s strongest collections. With this acquisition, the Library reaffirms its commitment to Virginia Woolf, to literary modernism, to early feminist writing, and to documenting the creative process through incomparably rich collections.”

Highlights of the new acquisition include:
    •    Extensive correspondence, including a set of eight letters from Virginia Woolf’s husband, Leonard, and sister, Vanessa Bell, to Vita Sackville-West regarding Woolf's disappearance and suicide.
    •    Showing a different side of the author’s personality, a humorous “proclamation” written on the eve Vanessa Bell’s marriage, which Woolf wrote from the perspectives of three apes—Billy, Bartholomew, Mungo—and a Wombat.
    •    Remarkable copies of the first editions of Woolf’s books, including Jacob's Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), and To the Lighthouse (1927). Each retain the original jacket illustrations designed by Vanessa Bell, and several are inscribed to intimate associates
    •    Unique items such as Woolf’s passport name card with picture, unpublished poetry by Vita Sackville-West, and books from Woolf’s own library.
    •    Letters and gift books inscribed to Florence Hardy (widow of Thomas Hardy), David Garnett, Clive Bell, and other prominent members of the Bloomsbury group.

The Beekman collection complements the Library’s holdings, while providing greater breadth and important context for many of the items. This is seen with the addition of the letter from Leonard Woolf to Vita Sackville-West regarding Virginia’s presumed suicide and finding her walking stick floating in the river. The Berg Collection is home to the walking stick.

Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) was an English novelist, essayist, biographer, and feminist. Woolf was central to the Bloomsbury Group, a coterie of British artists, writers, and intellectuals active in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1917, Woolf founded with her husband, Leonard, the Hogarth Press and published what would become foundational works of Modernism, including T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in 1923. She also wrote nine novels, two collections of short stories, a biography, and three book-length essays in addition to other works. She wrote approximately 400 essays and 4,000 letters, and kept a diary for most of her life before committing suicide in 1941.

“I could not be more delighted to see my collection find a permanent home with the marvelous Woolf material already held by The New York Public Library in the Berg Collection,” said collector, William Beekman. “The Berg’s wealth of related holdings and its curatorial resources mean that these books and documents, which have given me so much pleasure, will be available to scholars and the general public to study and enjoy for years to come.”

The collection has been processed and is available for research purposes at the Berg Collection.

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Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Edward M. Eggleston, Atlantic City / Pennsylvania Railroad, circa 1935. Sold for $16,250.

New York — “After twenty years of conducting auctions of Rare and Important Travel Posters it was validating to see the sale turn in the best results in the last three years,” noted Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann Galleries’ President and Director of Vintage Posters. The Thursday, November 14 auction saw a 75% sell-through rate, an “industry-leading number as no other poster sales come close to this level of success,” continued Lowry, as well as bringing ten new records for artists and images alike.

Works from an exceptional private collection of American railway posters included images by Leslie Ragan and Walter L. Greene. Ragan’s 1939 Art Deco advertisement for The New 20th Century Limited was won by an institution for $11,250, and Greene’s 1928 image for Storm King / New York brought a record for the poster at $9,375.

American destinations found success, setting additional artist records for Hernando G. Villa with The Chief …Is Still Chief / Santa Fe, 1931, which had not been seen at auction since Swann’s inaugural travel poster auction in 1999 ($9,375); and Paul Proehl with Chicago for the Tourist / Illinois Central, 1925 ($7,500).

Sporting advertisements proved to be popular with collectors. Willard Frederic Elmes’s circa-1923 gouache maquette Golf by the North Shore Line earned $10,625, a record for the artist. Otto Brennemann’s 1926 travel image for the South Shore Line to South Bend, Indiana for Notre Dame football set a record for the work at $8,125. Also of note was Polo / By the North Shore Line, 1923, by Oscar Rabe Hanson, which also sold for $8,125.

Leading the sale was one of three Edward M. Eggleston designs for the Pennsylvania Railroad promoting travel to Atlantic City. The circa-1935 image, which captures the magnificent hotels along the boardwalk, including the recognizable Chalfonte, Marlborough-Blenheim and the Traymore, sold to an institution for $16,250. Further works inviting viewers to travel to warm destinations included Boris Artzybasheff’s 1947 fantastical design for American World Airways to Bermuda. The poster, featuring an elegant mermaid, earned a record for the artist at $9,375. Catalina was on display with a 1938 image by Otis Shepard at $7,250, an artist record—also from the Golden State was California / This Summer, circa 1933, which sold to an institution for $10,000.

Additional highlights included Franz Krausz’s Visit Palestine, 1936 ($8,125, an artist record); Ervine Metzl’s Evanston Lighthouse / By the Elevated Lines, 1923 ($7,000, a record for the image); and Leslie MacDonald Gill’s Highways of Empire / Buy Empire Goods from Home and Overseas, 1927 ($6,250, a record for the image).

Swann Galleries is currently accepting quality consignments for the spring 2020 season. Visit swanngalleries.com or download the Swann Galleries App for more information.

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Marvel Comics No. 1, the most expensive Marvel comic ever sold at public auction. 

Dallas, TX – The finest known copy of Marvel Comics No. 1, the 1939 comic book considered the ‘Big Bang’ of the Marvel Comics Superhero Universe, sold for $1,260,000 million on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at a public auction of vintage comic books and comic art held by Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.

The sale set a world record for the most expensive Marvel comic ever sold at public auction and an auction house record as the most expensive comic book ever sold by the world’s largest comic book and comic art auctioneer.

“This is a historic copy of a historic comic book,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “Without question, this is the granddaddy of all Marvel Comics, without which we would not have the characters and stories we enjoy in today’s comics and feature films.”
 
It was first purchased off a newsstand rack by a mailman in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, who purchased every No. 1 issue he could of both comic books and magazines, beginning in the 1940s. Published by Timely Comics, the first edition features the first appearances of characters such as the Human Torch, Ka-Zar and Angel, as well as a character called the Sub-Mariner.
 
The yet-unmatched comic book is graded 9.4 on a scale of 1 to 10, making it the best condition ever found, according to Certified Guaranty Company, by far the world’s largest and most accepted comic book grading service. The famous cover art is by the noted science fiction artist Frank R. Paul, and the interior art featured the work of illustrators as Bill Everett, Carl Burgos and Paul Gustavson.

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Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Charles Addams, Nevermore, watercolor, ink & correction fluid, cartoon for The New Yorker, 1973. Estimate $12,000-18,000.

New York — Swann Galleries’ sale of Illustration Art on Tuesday, December 10 will feature an impressive selection of original works. Highlights include an array of theater set designs by some of the most recognizable names in the genre, classic illustrations from children’s literature, as well as illustrations for The New Yorker.  

Leading the sale is Charles Addams’s Nevermore for October 29, 1973 issue of The New Yorker. The cartoon, picturing Edgar Allan Poe as he struggles to find the perfect voice for his famous narrative poem, is set to come across the block at $12,000 to $18,000. Addams’s advertisement for Chivas Regal scotch whisky published in the February 29, 1964 issue of The New Yorker is estimated at $5,000 to $7,500.

Further selections from the sale’s distinct assortment of New Yorker works include current contributors: a group of two cartoons by Sara Lautman published in the February 11 and July 1, 2019 issues and Emily Flake’s Hang On—I’ll Uber Us a School Bus, published in the May 23, 2016 issue, offered at $1,000 to $1,500, each. Offered alongside these works is Ilonka Karasz’s Chop Suey cover illustration for the August 27, 1927 issue, at $4,000 to $6,000.

Familiar faces abound in an offering of original works from children’s literature. Ernest H. Shepard’s 1949 pen-and-ink drawing for the timeless Christmas story Bertie’s Escapade by Kenneth Grahame is present at $10,000 to $15,000. A run of works from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland include three works from D.R. Sexton’s 1933 edition, most notably a flapper Alice with the hookah-smoking caterpillar ($3,000-4,000), as well as Harry Rountree’s 1901 illustration featuring the queen ($6,000-9,000). H.A. Rey’ watercolor and gouache work for Rafi et les 9 singes—the first book to introduce Curious George—depicts Cecily Giraffe smiling as monkeys ski down her long neck ($10,000-15,000).  Also available is Ludwig Bemelmans, with sketch of Miss Clavel in a garden with Madeline and the Eiffel Tower in the background ($6,000-9,000).

Dr. Seuss’s 1937 calendar watercolor illustration It’s our first … don’t you think it looks like George? for the Thomas D. Murphy Co.—the largest color project of Seuss’s career at the time—is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. Additional designs by Seuss feature a superb original advertisement intended for billboard and print ads for Holly Sugar (featuring a somewhat skeptical-looking Grinch-like character munching on a tart blueberry pie), expected to bring $7,000 to $10,000.

Two original four-panel Peanuts cartoons by Charles Schulz mark the high point of the comics section. The first features Linus and Lucy contemplating how one measures a star in a strip published on November 21, 1961, while the second, published on May 9, 1963, is signed and inscribed and portrays Patty and Charlie Brown. Each are estimate at $8,000 to $12,000.

Tom H. John and Jo Mielziner take center stage in a remarkable offering of theatrical set designs. Following up on the record-setting sale of Mielziner this past spring, the legendary scenic designer is available with the first color study produced for the award-winning 1947 production of A Street Car Named Desire, signed and inscribed by the designer, at $7,000 to $10,000, as well as the design for Scene IV of the 1929 play The Red General, at $6,000 to $9,000. Tom H. John is present with a run of whimsical set designs for the groundbreaking 1975 Broadway production of the African-American cast of The Wiz: Emerald City ($2,500-3,500), Land of the Munchkins ($2,000-3,000), Funky Monkey ($1,000-1,500), and an assortment of 22 set designs and backdrops ($2,500-3,000). Also available by the artist are a group of four set designs for the 1976 Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls ($3,000-4,000).

Works from the collection of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust include costume designs for a 1975 production of the second act of Swan Lake with commentary and descriptions by Gorey ($8,000-12,000) and Ballet in a Nutshell, published in the January 1974 issue of Dance Magazine ($7,000-10,000).

Notable fashion advertisements and cover designs include Julie Castillo’s 1992 original ad for Polo Ralph Lauren Stadium Competition series clothing line ($1,000-1,500); Gerda Wegener is available with two circa 1920 pen and ink drawings likely for Gyraldose or Malaceïne toiletries ($700-1,000); and Georges Lepape’s Sur la Terrasse, the cover illustration for the May 10, 1930 issue of Vogue ($8,000-12,000).

Exhibition opening in New York City December 5. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries App.

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Courtesy of Cowan's

A rare antebellum quarter plate daguerreotype believed to be the earliest known image of enslaved African Americans with cotton sold for $324,500.

Cincinatti, OH — An incredibly rare antebellum quarter plate daguerreotype believed to be the earliest known image of enslaved African Americans with cotton sold for $324,500 in Cowan’s American History auction on November 15. The photograph, likely taken sometime in the 1850s, depicts an upland Greene County, Georgia plantation owner, his family, and 10 enslaved African Americans.

“We were privileged to sell this historic record of antebellum American History,” said Wes Cowan, Cowan’s vice chair and principal auctioneer. “Clearly, this was one of the most important daguerreotypes we’ve ever sold and as an auction house that regularly sells important historical photography, I don’t say that lightly.”

The daguerreotype was purchased by the Hall Family Foundation on behalf of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. The lot opened with an absentee bid at the starting price of $50,000 before a representative of the Nelson-Atkins Museum and two other phone bidders took over the action. After several minutes of back-and-forth bidding, the foundation emerged as the winning bidder when the hammer fell at $260,000. The inclusion of a 25% buyer’s premium resulted in a final sales price of $324,500. The photograph had been estimated to sell for $100,000 to $150,000.

“This daguerreotype makes a major contribution to the larger story of both American history and American photography, and is a significant addition to our daguerreotype holdings, an emphasis, dating back to 1995, in which we take considerable pride,” said Keith F. Davis, the senior curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

The daguerreotype is believed to depict the rural Greene County, Georgia plantation of Samuel T. Gentry (1798-1873). While other Gentrys lived in Georgia at the time this image was taken, Federal Slave Schedules from 1850 and 1860 indicate a mere handful were slave holders, and only one -- Samuel T. Gentry -- owned at least 10 slaves, the number depicted in this daguerreotype.

Samuel Gentry was no mere yeoman farmer, but neither was he a member of the upper stratum of the planter class. Between 1850 and 1860, he owned between 15 and 18 slaves, which would have been slightly more than the average Georgia slaveowner at the time. Most plantations worked by slaves at the time looked more like Gentry’s humble homestead than the large coastal plantations most often depicted in history, making this a rare look at the pervasiveness of slavery.

It is probable that Gentry commissioned this photograph to document his prosperity. The photographer carefully posed the scene so that the family “wealth” is clearly on display: ten enslaved African Americans are visible in the picture, with several displaying baskets of cotton perched atop their heads. Cotton – the production of which was made possible by Gentry’s slaves – is an integral part of the tableau.

“We are incredibly honored to have acquired this piece. We appreciate that it depicts a scene from a difficult time in American history and is important to many different communities,” added Jane Aspinall, curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum. “We feel fortunate that this previously unknown image will now become a part of our collective knowledge base, and will be preserved alongside our other treasured holdings of early photography.”

While the Gentry daguerreotype was the crowned jewel of the auction, there was significant interest across multiple categories that drove the auction as a whole well above its low estimate of $770,000 to a $1.1M total.

“We’re obviously excited to sell a daguerreotype for $324,500 but what I’m most proud of is seeing so much success across a broad spectrum of categories,” said Katie Horstman, Cowan’s director of American History. “Today proved that not only can we sell the blockbuster photography lots, but manuscripts, archives, relics, and ephemera from throughout American history.”

Photography of Native American subjects was the single hottest category of sale with four lots topping $30,000. The top lot of the category, and the second highest sales price of the day, was a William S. Soule album of Southern Plains Native Americans, which sold for $57,500. The album contained 40 albumen photographs of members of the Kiowa, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa-Apache, Arapaho, and Wichita tribes, many identified.

Other highlights in the category included a remarkable album of Kiowa and Comanche Native Americans by George W. Bretz that sold for $43,750; an Irwin & Mankins album of Kiowa and Comanche Indians including Quanah Parker for $37,500; and three photographs taken by Mathew Brady of the Sioux Delegation visiting Washington D.C. in 1877 for $32,500.

Archives were another key driving force for the auction. An exceptional archive of the postmaster and Indian Agent of Fort Berthold in the Dakota Territory was the top lot of the category selling for $56,250. The archive spanned roughly 1865-1895 and provided enormous insight into the daily happenings and ongoing issues at Fort Berthold Indian Agency during a critical period.

Other archives of note included an extensive South Carolina family archive from the Civil War including correspondence from five of six brothers fighting in the war that sold for $15,000; a San Francisco Gold Rush era letter archive for $11,875; and a West Virginia family archive from the Civil War for $9,375.

Miscellaneous highlights from the auction included a rare Dr. W. F. Carver As He Appeared Before the Emperor of Germany poster that sold for $12,500; a John C. Fremont, Freedom's Candidate campaign flag for $10,625; an original manuscript treaty between the Sisseton Sioux and Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan in 1870 for $10,625; and a “respectfully forwarded” original manuscript of the same 1870 treaty that sold for $10,000.

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