New York—Christie’s is pleased to present Russian America and Polar Exploration: Highlights from the Martin Greene Library, a choice selection of important books chronicling the exploration of our planet’s extremes. The auction will take place on Thursday, December 7 at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza. Spanning a period of 400 years, from the 16th to the 20th centuries, Martin Greene’s library includes myriad stories of adventure, scientific discovery, cultural encounters and geopolitical ambition.
Martin Greene, a Seattle - based doctor and mountaineer, has spent decades collecting books relate d to his passion of travel and exploration. The selection offered in this sale contains rarities from first hand accounts to cartography — with a range including Pacific Voyages, the search for the Northwest and Northeast Passages, the search for Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition, and the race to the North and South Poles. Moreover, Greene has acquired the most important collection of books relating to Alaska when it was a Russian possession which has ever appeared at auction.
Among the top lots is an extremely rare and beautiful account and atlas of Ivan Kruzenshtern’s voyage of 1802 - 1806, the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe (estimate: $350,000 - 450,000). Not only is it among the most splendid works of 19th century Russian printing it also contains important views of the Northwest Coast of America. Russia’s great rival Britain launched the greatest number of Arctic expeditions; dozens of which centered on the search for the missing explorer, Sir John Franklin, and his crew. Another highlight is an 1854 first edition of S.G. Cresswell’s illustrations of the Franklin Search expedition led by Robert McClure (estimate: $30,000 - 50,000), inscribed by the artist. McClure and his men were the first to traverse the Northwest Passage. America, too, entered the game and with great ambition. Charles Wilkes led the first ever American scientific voyage, the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838 - 1842. Another highlight is a rare Congressional issue of Wilkes’s account (estimate: $60,000 - 90,000). The project was plagued by budget overrun and only 100 sets of these official accounts were printed, many of which were destroyed in the 1851 Library of Congress fire.
New York | Friday, December 1 to Wednesday, December 6.