Auctions | April 24, 2017

Complete Copy of "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" Leads Swann Galleries' May Literature Auction

188-Lawrence copy.jpgNew York—On Tuesday, May 16, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature, with fine and scarce first editions and cornerstone volumes for bibliophiles.

One of 170 complete copies of the privately printed Cranwell edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, A Triumph, 1926, by T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) leads the sale. The book, bound in the original green and gilt leather and printed in red and black ink, includes 65 plates, many in color. Lawrence inscribed the present copy “Complete copy. I.XII.26 TES” and gave it to his dentist, Warwick James; it is estimated at $50,000 to $75,000.

Further highlights in this sale run the gamut from a rare limited first edition on handmade paper of Ulysses, 1922, by James Joyce, valued at $15,000 to $20,000, to a finely bound first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal The Hobbit, 1937 ($8,000 to $12,000). Also available is T.S. Eliot’s Modernist masterpiece The Waste Land, 1922, a first state of the first edition, in the rare dust jacket, expected to fetch $8,000 to $12,000.

First editions of American classics span the last 150 years, with early highlights being the first American edition of Herman Melville’s magnum opus Moby-Dick; or, the Whale, 1851 ($12,000 to $18,000), and the two-volume first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, estimated at $1,000 to $2,000.

A selection of first editions by Ernest Hemingway includes Death in the Afternoon, 1932, with the charming inscription “from one toreador to another” ($3,500 to $5,000); and the first trade edition, in the unrestored dust jacket, also inscribed, of A Farewell to Arms, 1929, valued at $5,000 to $7,500.

William Faulkner's first novel Soldiers' Pay, 1926, in its original dust jacket ($15,000 to $20,000) will be available, as will a first edition, first issue of John Steinbeck's The Pastures of Heaven, 1932, signed and inscribed by the author, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000.

Mark Twain is well represented in the sale, with rarities including a first edition of The Prince and the Pauper, 1882, in an exceptional Cosway binding, with a miniature watercolor portrait of the author on the cover, valued at $1,200 to $1,800. Also available is an uncommon copy in cloth of the salesman's dummy for the first American edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876, annotated with the names of subscribers from Marysville, California, as well as the first American edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885 ($3,000 to $4,000 and $2,000 to $3,000, respectively).

Additionally of note is a run of first editions by Robert Frost, among them a fine copy of the first American edition of A Boy's Will, 1915, in the elusive dust jacket, valued at $1,200 to $1,800. Other notables include first editions by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Robert Louis Stevenson.

The complete 12-volume set of the first edition of The Scourge; or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly, 1811-16, one of the scarcest periodicals illustrated by George Cruikshank, makes a rare auction appearance. The present copy contains the elusive twelfth volume, as well as both versions—censored and uncensored—of the suppressed plate in Volume X, A Financial Survey of Cumberland, or Beggars Petition ($4,000 to $6,000). Cruikshank also contributed to the first edition in English of the Brothers Grimm’s German Popular Stories, 1923; this rare copy, which notably retains the original covers, is estimated to sell between $1,200 and $1,800.

Making its auction debut is the first American edition of The Brothers Karamazov, 1912, by Feodor Dostoyevsky, along with the first American edition of Crime and Punishment, 1886 ($5,000 to $7,500 and $3,000 to $4,000, respectively).

First editions by George Orwell include Homage to Catalonia, 1938, in the unrestored dust jacket, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949 ($4,000 to $6,000 and $1,000 to $2,000, respectively).

Modern literature includes a run of James Bond books by Ian Fleming, an inscribed first edition of Stephen King’s classic Carrie, 1974 ($1,200 to $1,800), and a warmly inscribed presentation copy of the first edition of Flowers for Algernon, 1966, by Daniel Keyes, valued at $1,000 to $1,500. Further twentieth-century authors represented include Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and James Hilton.

The auction will be held Tuesday, May 16, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Friday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, May 16 from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 at

For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact John D. Larson at 212-254-4710, extension 61, or via e-mail at

Image: Lot 188 T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, A Triumph, complete copy, inscribed, London, 1926. Estimate $50,000 to $75,000.