News | June 8, 2023

Charlotte Gilman Perkins Family Archive Tops Focus on Women Auction

Swann Galleries

Charlotte Gilman Perkins

Swann Galleries’ third iteration of Focus on Women, an auction dedicated to the contributions of women to art, life, and society, brought $361,090, with literature and archives - especially those of Charlotte Perkins Gilman - among the leading items of the sale.

The sale was led by a family archive of photographs and letters of Gilman which included 45 photos of Gilman and a typed draft of the comedic play, A Pretty Idiot written by Gilman and Grace Ellery Channing. The lot brought $60,000. Also related to Gilman was a family association set of The Forerunner, a complete run of seven volumes published from 1909 to 1916, which earned $22,500.

Further archives of note included those once belonging to Fanny Stevenson which documented her travels in the American West and Vailima in Samoa ($25,000), artist Mary Beth Edelson with an archive of working files and correspondence ($7,000), and travel diaries and photo albums from Loretta Belle Tulian Eaton ($5,250).

Top-selling literature included:

  • a first edition of Sojourner Truth’s Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave, Boston, 1850 ($20,000)
  • Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, London, 1817 ($13,750)
  • a first edition of Compendio de la Vida, y virtudes de la venerable Catharina de San Juan, Puebla, Mexico, 1692, which tells the story of Catarina de San Juan ($11,250)
  • a first trade edition of Helena Bochoráková-Dittrichová’s Z Mého Detství Drevoryt, Prague, 1929, the first graphic novel ever published by a woman ($7,500)

Religious text was on offer with Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Woman’s Bible, New York, 1898, signed and inscribed by Stanton ($13,750), and the Bible translated by Julia Evelina Smith into English ($4,750). Smith was the first woman to accomplish this feat. Also of note was Louisa May Alcott’s autograph script for a performance of Mrs. Jarley's Waxworks, dated circa 1867 to 1879 ($4,750).