September 11, 2012

Swann Galleries’ Oct. 2 Americana Auction

New York—On Tuesday, October 2, Swann Galleries will offer a diverse selection of historically significant material in their semi-annual auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana. The sale contains many one-of-a-kind items with regional or national interest.

The auction is rich in American Revolution material, including an issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette dated July 3, 1776 announcing “the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies free and independent states,” a day ahead of the formal Declaration (estimate: $3,000 to $4,000); a 1775 plan of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first map of the skirmish to be published in London ($3,000 to $4,000); and Benjamin Tyler’s 1818 engraving of the Declaration on rollers—the first version to include facsimile signatures ($12,000 to $18,000).
From the collection of banker and historian James M. Ransom, whose main interests were the American Revolution and the iron mines of the New York-New Jersey border region, are a first printing in any form of the Constitution of the State of New York, which begins by denouncing “the many tyrannical and oppressive usurpations of the King and Parliament of Great Britain,” Fishkill, NY, 1777 ($10,000 to $15,000); a manuscript journal of Quartermaster Department at the Continental Army’s supply depot, documenting efforts to keep troops supplied with necessary resources, June 1778-November 1780 ($4,000 to $6,000); and Moore and Jones’s The Traveller's Directory, or a Pocket Companion: Shewing the Course of the Main Road from Philadelphia to New York, and from Philadelphia to Washington, one of the first American road atlases, Philadelphia, 1802 ($6,000 to $9,000).

The top Civil War highlight is a large archive of correspondence and papers of Capt. Isaac Plumb, which includes three of his swords. The papers including approximately 185 letters written by Plumb in the service, 115 letters received by him while in the service; pre-war letters, regimental documents, photographs of Captain Plumb and other soldiers and Plumb's pencil sketch of his company headquarters near Falmouth, VA in January 1863 ($10,000 to $15,000).

There is also a commonplace book that includes a Confederate map of the Battle of Fredericksburg—showing the major movements from the Confederate perspective—compiled by Henrietta Magruder Turner, niece of Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder, Charlottesville, VA, and elsewhere, 1852-75 ($3,000 to $4,000).

Select baseball items are a record book of three early amateur baseball clubs in Washington, D.C. just after the Civil War, 1864-71 ($1,000 to $1,500) and an official souvenir program from opening day at Yankee Stadium, 18 April 1923 ($2,000 to $3,000).

A small but impressive Judaica section offers Judah Monis’s Dickdook Leshon Gnebreet, a Grammar of the Hebrew Tongue, the first Hebrew grammar published in America and the first work of any kind published in America with extensive Hebrew text, Boston, 1735 ($20,000 to $15,000); Liber Psalmorum Hebraïce, Cambridge, MA, 1809 ($6,000 to $9,000) and Isaac Leeser’s 1845 translation of the Pentateuch, Philadelphia ($4,000 to $6,000).

Among California-related material is a first edition of Thomas Jefferson Farnham’s Life, Adventures, and Travels in California, with the often missing Map of Gold Regions of California, New York, 1849 ($3,000 to $4,000); a first edition of Auguste Bernard Duhault-Cilly’s Voyage autour du Monde, the first foreign account of Spanish California, Paris, 1834-35 ($8,000 to $12,000); and five lively circa 1853 ink sketches of early Chinese immigrants in San Francisco by John Baptiste Beutler ($3,000 to $4,000). A fine group of early Texas guides includes Edward Stiff’s 1840 The Texan Emigrant ($5,000 to $7,500).

A section devoted to Latin America and the Caribbean features the first book printed in Brazil, Luiz Antonio Rosado da Cunha, Relaçao da Entrada que fez o . . . Senhor D. Fr. Antonio do Desterro Malheyro. Printing was banned in colonial Brazil until 1808, and Lisbon printer Antonio Isidoro da Fonseca somehow managed to get a press to Rio de Janeiro in 1747. This work describes the journey of Bishop Antonio do Desterro Malheiro from his post in Angola, and the ceremonies attending his installation in Rio de Janeiro ($10,000 to $15,000); as well as an important signed commission from the Haitian Revolution, Paris, 1791 ($2,500 to $3,500).

Rounding out the sale are a bond issued to a sailor departing on Captain Kidd's infamous voyage, from sailor Jacob Horn of Flushing, NY to Thomas Clark securing a loan, New York, 20 August 1696 ($3,000 to $4,000); a large business archive of the early years of Joseph Pulitzer’s St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper, 1878-1902 ($4,000 to $6,000); and hundreds of photographs and other artifacts from Army photographer Stuart Kovacs who served in the Viet Nam War, including a group portrait titled “The Boys” that shows Kovacs with four friends, each noted as dead or missing in action ($1,000 to $1,500).

The auction will take place Tuesday, October 2 at 10:30 a.m. The items will be on public exhibition Thursday, September 27 and Friday, September 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Monday, October 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An illustrated catalogue, with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Rick Stattler by telephone at (212) 254-4710, extension 27, or email: [email protected]

Online bidding is available via