Fire-Resistant <i>Fahrenheit 451</i>, Signed by Bradbury, Leads Heritage Rare Books Auction
NEW YORK—One of the finest known signed copies of the first edition of Ray Bradbury’s seminal 1953 masterpiece, and most famous work Fahrenheit 451 in the original asbestos binding, no less—to ensure that the book would survive burning—is expected to bring more than $17,500, anchoring the deep selection of fine literature and Americana in Heritage Auctions’ April 2 Rare Books Signature® Auction.
“Bradbury’s 1953 futuristic parable of a world without books is as relevant and readable as ever,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage.” We’ve sold several copies of the first edition of this book, as collectors are always looking for it, but this superb copy is the finest we’ve yet encountered.”
With more than 1,000 lots crossing the block in the auction, highlights from two prominent private collections—one from North Carolina, one from New Orleans—offer works at a variety of price points and genres curated to suit any collecting taste.
The auction also features another excellent offering of rare books and unique manuscripts in the Armenian language, including a complete set of 29 fine art collotype prints of masterpiece paintings by Hovsep Pushman (estimate: $40,000+), Pushman’s entire output, the first 10 examples of which are very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. A wonderful Armenian Illuminated Manuscript of the Four Gospels (estimate: $20,000+) contains six miniatures, illuminated concordances, marginal illustrations and ornamented letters to make-up a fantastic offering.
A hand-colored plate of the Great Horned Owl by Havell (estimate: $12,500+), from Audubon’s double-elephant folio first edition of The Birds of America, is attracting significant collector interest, while an extremely rare 1835 edition of The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Latter Day Saints(estimate: $30,000+), a cornerstone of Mormon theology, carries a direct line of provenance back to an early Mormon family with a contemporary ownership inscription.
A fine private collection from North Carolina both begins and ends the auction, including a fine first edition of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (estimate: $20,000+), a series of prints titled Flights: Unforgettable Exploits of the Air (estimate: $5,000+), each signed by a legend of aviation, including Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, and Richard E. Byrd, and a limited edition, one of only 10 signed presentation copies of the “Author’s Autograph Edition” of Amelia Earhart’s first book, 20 Hrs. 40 Min. Our Flight in the Friendship (estimate: $8,000+), with one of the original American flags that was on her plane during her flight affixed to the front pastedown.
A private collection in New Orleans provides Heritage with a special offering of books with important provenance with highlights focusing on French enlightenment and history, French and European royalty, Napoleonic Wars, European and Middle-Eastern travels, and Americana. An example of both French history and fine binding in this collection is a copy of l'Office de la Semaine Sainte (estimate: $6,000+), with a contemporary royal binding and a hand-written note that the copy was presented to Louis XIV at Versailles. Also included are works of English literature including first editions by Dickens and Milton; and American works by Capote and Agee.
Other highlights include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Sir Isaac Newton. The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. London: Benjamin Motte, 1729. First edition of the Principia in English. Estimate: $35,000+.
- Raphael Holinshed. The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande. Three volumes in two. A fantastic, complete copy in excellent condition of this important Shakespeare sourcebook. Estimate: $10,000+.
- Charles Dickens. The Christmas Books. London: Chapman and Hall, 1843-48. First editions of all five of Charles Dickens' Christmas Books, chief among them a first issue of his immortal A Christmas Carol. From of a private collection of over sixty fine books in this auction from a gentleman of New Orleans. Estimate: $7,500+.
- Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, Vincent Starrett. Baker Street Irregulars Plaque Commemorating the Publication of Starrett's 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes. Estimate: $15,000+.
- Gettysburg Address. Edward Everett. An Oration Delivered on the Battlefield of Gettysburg. New York: Baker & Godwin, 1863. The first appearance of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in book form. Estimate: $20,000+.
- Stephen King. "In a Half World of Terror." Published in Stories of Suspense #2. Flushing, New York: MW Publications, . An extremely rare and early fanzine appearance from the King of Horror. Estimate: $2,000+.
- Eric Carle. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. New York: The World Publishing Company, . An extremely rare first edition of one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, signed by Carle. Estimate: $13,500+.
Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $900 million, and 850,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.
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