Philadelphia—Freeman’s September 27 Books, Maps & Manuscripts auction, brought close to 500 lots of rare and important books, historical documents, prints, maps, and related ephemera to buyers and collectors. The sale, which was the first under new Department Head Darren Winston, totaled $342,550, with 80% of the lots sold, and 100% by value.
The day’s highlights included Lot 291, a first English edition of Common Sense by Thomas Paine, bound with his Plain Truth and several other complementary titles, which more than doubled its high estimate, selling for $28,750. Lot 58, An early 19th century complete collection of symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven soared past its presale estimate of $500-800, eventually selling after a spirited round of bidding for $12,500. The two volumes, which also included a collection of symphonies by Haydn, achieved over 15 times their estimate. An autographed letter signed by Alfred Nobel, from 1895 (Lot 392), also exceeded its presale estimate by a staggering margin, selling for $7,800 against an estimate of $500-800.
Lot 114, a first edition of Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne, signed by both the author as well as Ernest H. Shepard, the illustrator behind the darling characters in the Hundred Acre Wood, sold for $9,375, more than doubling its high estimate. A fantastic set in 24 volumes, by Charles Nodier, among others, entitled Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l’ancienne France, (Lot 246), is considered one of the most striking achievements in the history of printmaking, and represents one of the most monumental works of publication in France in the 19th century. It sold for $12,500. Of local interest, An Old Man’s Experience manuscript by Benjamin Franklin, sold for more than 30 times its presale estimate of $3,250, against just $100-150.
Lot 176, John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, recently featured on an episode of PBS’s The Great American Read as a Top 100 classic, sold for $6,250, setting a new auction record for a first edition of this cult classic. The book is signed by Walker Percy, who helped see the book into print and wrote its foreword. Since its publication in 1980, only 21 copies have come to auction. Of the 21, only two were signed by Percy. Lot 142, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, sold for over five times its estimate, for $3,510.
A three-volume set of John James Audubon’s, The Quadrupeds of North America, from 1856 (Lot 264) was the third edition and the last to be produced by the Audubon family, by sons Victor Gifford and John Woodhouse Audubon, who decided to issue this octavo edition of the enormous folio Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845-1848), with the same text by John Bachman, during the last years of their father’s life. The lot sold for $10,000.
Freeman’s Books, Maps & Manuscripts Department is currently inviting consignments for their next auction, to be held in January. Suitable consignments will be accepted through October.