Auctions | June 5, 2012

Dickens Editions to Lead June 21 Auction at Swann Galleries

New York—On Thursday, June 21 Swann Galleries will conduct an auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature with a compelling selection of literary works and publisher’s bindings in exceptional condition.

Coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, the sale offers a number of first editions by the author, many of which are extra-illustrated. These include The Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, London, 1839, with numerous plates and a signed inscription by Dickens from New York City, three days before his final reading in America (estimate: $4,000 to $6,000); Bleak House, London, 1583, containing an autograph letter signed by Dickens about the novel to his friend, the writer Peter Cunningham ($4,000 to $6,000); as well as The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son and The Personal History of David Copperfield.

A wonderful selection of works by master English Caricaturists and graphic humorists of the 19th century features George Cruikshank’s The Comic Almanack, London, 1835-53 ($800 to $1,200); Cruikshank’s Fairy Library, containing an inscribed Hop-O’-My-Thumb, 1853 ($800 to $1,200) and Robert Cruikshank’s Weeds of Witchery, 1837 ($500 to $750). Thomas Rowlandson highlights include Surprising Adventures of the Renowned Baron Munchausen, 1809 ($600 to $900) and The English Dance of Death, 1914-17 ($1,000 to $1,500).

There are also Omnium Gatherum, illustrated by Henry Heath, 1840 ($600 to $900); John Leech’s Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour, 1852 ($400 to $600) and the satirical Portraits of the Spruggins Family, arranged by Richard Sucklethumkin Spruggins, Esq., with grotesque portraits of a fictional aristocratic family by Walter Sneyd ($250 to $350).

Nineteenth century literary highlights include a run of fore-edge paintings; one of only 15 sets of the extra-illustrated edition of The Works of William Thackeray, 52 volumes, New York and London, 1878 ($4,000 to $6,000); a first edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, London, 1883 ($5,000 to $7,500); a scarce first edition of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Chicago and New York, 1899 ($2,000 to $3,000); and exquisite examples of English, French and Italian bindings.

From the 20th century are three science fiction classics, a signed first edition of Hugo Gernsback’s Ralph 124C 41+; A Romance of the Year 2660, Boston, 1925, a foundational text in the sci-fi pantheon ($8,000 to $12,000); Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, New York, 1962 ($2,000 to $3,000); and a first edition of Frank Herbert’s Dune, with the author’s scarce signature, Philadelphia, 1965 ($3,000 to $4,000).

Among children’s literature highlights are first editions of A.A. Milne’s The Christopher Robin Books, four volumes, London, 1924-28 ($5,000 to $7,500); and Sir John Tenniel’s Illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, one of 250 sets, with prints of all the original illustrations, London, 1988 ($1,500 to $2,500).

Notable poetry lots are Robert Frost’s Locked Out (As Told to a Child), as published in The Forge, Volume No. 2, Philadelphia, 1917 ($600 to $900); and an inscribed first edition of Elizabeth Bishop’s Poems North & South - A Cold Spring, with a pen drawing by Bishop on the front endpaper and containing a Typed Letter Signed, Boston, 1955 ($1,000 to $1,500).

Other fine examples of modern literature are two editions of James Joyce’s Ulysses, one a “Giant Joyce” copy from the first edition of 150 copies on Vergé d’Arches, Paris, 1922 ($6,000 to $9,000), the other one of 2000 on handmade paper, London, 1922 ($4,000 to $6,000); early printer’s proofs of the French edition of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Pilote de Guerre, warmly inscribed in French to his goof friend Michel Bertin ($3,000 to $4,000); Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Paris, 1955 ($3,500 to $5,000); and first editions of William Faulkner, Graham Greene, John Irving, Cormac McCarthy and Tennessee Williams.

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 21. The works will be on public exhibition on Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday, June 18 to Wednesday, June 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to noon.

On June 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. Swann Galleries will host a reading by writers from the non-profit ONE STORY. The evening will also include classic literature trivia. Prizes will be awarded. Wine and appetizers will be served. This event is free but space is limited. RSVP to or 212-254-4710 ext 305.
An illustrated catalogue with information on bidding by mail or fax is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to arrange in advance to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact John Larson at (212) 254-4710, extension 61, or via email at, or Christine von der Linn at extension 20, or

Live online bidding is also available via