Auctions | November 4, 2014

Waugh First Editions, Joyce Rarities, Children’s Literature Coming Up at Swann Galleries


New York—On November 18, Swann Galleries will offer a diverse auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature that includes first and limited editions, signed and inscribed copies, children’s literature and works by Charles Dickens, James Joyce, John Steinbeck, Rex Stout, Evelyn Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse.

An excellent selection of works by Waugh includes his first two novels in their entirely unrestored dust jackets in impeccable condition: Decline and Fall, his first novel, containing the names “Martin Gaythorne-Brodie” and “Kevin Saunderson,” which were changed in later issues, London, 1928 (estimate: $7,000 to $10,000); and Vile Bodies, his satire of English high society after World War One, 1930 ($6,000 to $9,000).

Other modern first editions include Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One's Own, London, 1929 and On Being Ill, one of 250 signed by the author, 1930 (each $1,200 to $1,800); P.G. Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters, London, 1938, which is increasingly hard to find in collectible condition with jacket ($1,500 to $2,000) and several James Joyce titles, such as one of 750 copies of the first edition of Ulysses on handmade paper, Paris, 1922 ($15,000 to $20,000); a signed limited issue of the first English edition of Finnegans Wake, one of 425 copies signed by Joyce, 1939 ($6,000 to $9,000); and a first pressing of the Gramophone recording of Joyce reading from the Anna Livia Plurabelle section from Finnegans Wake,  with a typed letter signed by T.S. Eliot requesting a copy of the record, 1929/30 ($7,000 to $10,000).

Among celebrated 19th-century highlights are an exceptional copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Boston, 1854 ($6,000 to $9,000); several desirable Charles Dickens titles, with excellent examples in the original parts of Bleak House, Little Dorrit and Nicholas Nickleby; and a signed copy of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in the scarce blue cloth, 1885 ($10,000 to $15,000).

Additional American highlights include John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, a spectacular copy in unfaded and unrestored jacket, New York, 1939 ($4,000 to $6,000); Vera Caspary’s thriller Laura, the basis of the film noir by Otto Preminger, Boston, 1943 ($6,000 to $9,000); Ellery Queen’s The French Powder Mystery, in its virtually unobtainable original dust jacket—abeit damaged—New York, 1930 ($6,000 to $9,000) and a comprehensive archive of approximately 100 titles by crime writer Robert B. Parker, comprising almost his entire oeuvre, nearly all first editions, the majority of which are signed and/or inscribed ($5,000 to $7,500).


Wonderful examples of children’s literature include one of very few known copies of the first edition of Beatrix Potter’s first illustrated book A Happy Pair, with verses by Frederic Weatherly, London, 1890—more than a decade before Peter Rabbit ($18,000 to $25,000); an exceptional copy of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House, one of the rarest and most sought after children’s classics, Boston, 1942 ($8,000 to $12,000); a true Disney rarity, The Adventures of Mickey Mouse. Book I, with the exceedingly rare dust jacket, considered the first Mickey Mouse book appearance, and also Donald Duck's first appearance in print, Philadelphia, 1931 ($5,000 to $7,500); Dr. Seuss’s first book, And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, in unclipped and unrestored first issue jacket, New York, 1937 ($5,000 to $7,500); and a complete set of first editions of A.A. Milne’s Christopher Robin Books, which introduced the world to a bear named Winnie the Pooh, London, 1924-28 ($5,000 to $7,500).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18. The books will be on public exhibition on Thursday, November 13 and Friday, November 14, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, November 15, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, November 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, November 18, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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 D. Larson at (212) 254-4710, extension 61, or via email at

Live online bidding is also available via

First image: Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies, first edition, London, 1930  (estimate: $6,000 to $9,000).

Second image: A Happy Pair, illustrated by Beatrix Potter, London, 1890 (estimate: $18,000 to $25,000).