EINSTEIN GOD LETTER IN ENGLISH copy.jpgNew York -- Bonhams announces the seventh installment collector Eric C. Caren's voluminous collection of How History Unfolds on Paper, an online-only sale from March 6-14, with an exhibition in the New York galleries March 7-11. The collection begins in the 17th century and covers 4 decades of American and world history, focusing primarily on letters, documents, and printed media. 

Highlighting the sale is an Albert Einstein letter written to a young U.S. Naval Officer near the end of World War II (estimate: $100,000-200,000). The young man had written to Einstein relaying a conversation he'd had with a Jesuit priest who claimed he had convinced the scientist to believe in a "supreme intellect which governs the universe."  Rather than his usual cagey response, Einstein admits that he has always been an atheist, but that the world is indeed wondrous: "We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of the world--as far as we can grasp it.  And that is all."  The letter includes its original envelope, and copies of the original outgoing correspondence.

From America's pre-Revolutionary War period, two highlights include examples of patriot Paul Revere's artwork: a first issue of his famous engraving of Boston Harbor, published in a 1770 Boston almanac (estimate: $15,000-25,000); and a rare variant of his even more famous engraving of the Boston Massacre showing British soldiers firing on American colonists (estimate: $8,000-12,000).

An important Revolutionary War highlight is the military commission appointing Benjamin Lincoln as Major General of the Army of the United States, signed by John Hancock as President of the Continental Congress (estimate: $60,000-90,000). Issued in February 1777, the appointment was signed at Baltimore during the brief window of time that city served as the nation's capital.  Interestingly, this appointment as Major General (one of 5 suggested by George Washington), provoked jealousy and outrage in Benedict Arnold, who was not one of the 5 promoted, and who nursed a grudge which likely led him to betray his country a short while later.

Further highlights include reportage of Alexander Hamilton's duel with Aaron Burr, providing both an account of the tragic event and printing the correspondence exchanged between the two in the run up. Most devastatingly for Burr, the paper prints Hamilton's message to his family, in which he announces his intention to throw away his shot (and make Burr look the villain) (estimate: $3,000-5000); two remarkable broadsides from the War of 1812: a Baltimore paper's first hand account of the bombardment of Fort McHenry (estimate: $8,000-12,000), and a rare, early printing of the full lyrics of the "Star Spangled Banner" (estimate: $8,000-12,000).

The sale also offers several items of Mormon interest, including a fine copy of the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon (estimate: $40,000-60,000), and an 1844 letter from an early church member relaying a first-hand account of Joseph Smith's last words to his flock before his death at the hands of a mob (estimate: $10,000-15,000).

From the realm of sports, the collection offers the earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth (estimate: $6,000-9,000). In an April 4, 1914 issue of the Baltimore News, as the Babe's first professional season with the Orioles got underway, the newspaper emphasized the young player's prowess as a pitcher, not a batter, reporting that the "St. Mary's schoolboy is going to do plenty of twirling."  Not long after this story appeared, Ruth was traded to the Red Sox, who would infamously trade him to the Yankees after only 2 years.

Image: Einstein "God Letter" in English. Einstein, Albert. 1879-1955. Estimate: $100,000-200,000

Lot 20-Hallo.jpgNew York-Swann Galleries’ February 7 sale of Vintage Posters saw numerous firsts and records. Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann President, noted, “Lively bidding for ski posters and Art Nouveau images set the pace for an enthusiastic auction where eager bidders drove prices high for rare examples. Collectors dominated the activity.”

The sale was led by Alphonse Mucha’s Documents Décoratifs, 1902, a complete portfolio with 72 plates displaying examples of jewelry, furniture and silverware, as well as illustrations of how to draw women and flowers. The portfolio, which prominently displayed Mucha’s stylistic expertise, reached $18,750. Other notable works by the artist included Rêverie, 1897, which sold for $8,125; Biscuits Lefèvre - Utile, 1897, The Seasons, 1896, a group of four decorative panels on fabric, and The Times of the Day / Éveil du Matin, 1899, each earning $7,500.

Additional Art Nouveau posters included records for La Garonne, 1898, a whimsical image by Arthur Foäche, at $5,460, and The Studio, 1899, by Frank Brangwyn, with $5,000. Louis J. Rhead’s colorful image, Le Journal de la Beauté, 1897, originally commissioned by La Plume, sold for $6,750.

Firsts at auction included a 1927 advertisement for the Stockholm premier of Josephine Baker’s La Sirène des Tropiques, which featured Baker in her “pearl and feather” costume, and brought $9,750; Gli Avvisi Delle Officine G. Ricordi E C., a complete portfolio with 70 plates, by G. Ricordi celebrating the rise of the poster in Italy, was won for $7,500; and Walter L. Greene’s circa 1924 oil painting for the cover of The GE Monogram garnered $6,500.

Posters promoting travel to popular ski destinations proved successful, with Emil Cardinaux’s Palace Hotel St. Moritz, 1922, depicting an alpine round of golf and picnic, brought $5,500, and Jungfrau Bahn / Berneroberland, Schweiz, a 1919 German advertisement showing a group of skiers overlooking Aletsch Glacier in the Alps, earned $5,000. A Chamonix - Mont Blanc, 1927, by Alo (Charles Hallo), a lively image of a mid-air skier, set a record with $5,000.

The next auction of Vintage Posters at Swann Galleries will be held on May 23 with Graphic Design. Visit www.swanngalleries.com or download the Swann Galleries app for catalogues, bidding and inquiries.

Additional highlights can be found here.

Image: Lot 20: Alo, Charles Hallo, A Chamonix - Mont Blanc, 1927. Sold for $5,000, a record for the work.

Federalist Heritage copy.jpgDallas, Texas - A rare copy of The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution and an extraordinary collection of more than 230 mystery fiction books from the owner of the world’s oldest and largest premiere mystery specialist bookstore, headline Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Auction March 6 in New York.

Popularly referred to as The Federalist Papers, the two-volume set is considered by American historians as the cornerstone of the new nation’s theory of government. The essays are attributed to founding fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.

The Federalist Papers were written as part of an effort to get the New York delegation to ratify the Constitution - it made the case for Federalism and sought to convince the citizens of the states,” Heritage Auctions Rare Books Director James Gannon said. “Probably around 500 copies were printed, and this example is particularly rare because it’s still in the publisher’s boards. You just don’t find them like this.”

A Maurice Sendak “Moo-Reese” Tabletop Cow (estimate $75,000+) was drawn and painted in 2000 by Sendak, with help from Lynn Caponera. As a part of the “Cow Parade” in New York, Chicago and Zurich, Sendak was invited to decorate a full-sized cow, but chose instead to use this one, which measures 27 inches long. The molded plaster figure, decorated in pencil and water color with multiple characters from the popular children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, was sold at a 2003 fundraiser to support the Chicago Opera Theater.

Otto Penzler won an Edgar Award as co-author of the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, founded The Mysterious Press and owns The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. His collection of mystery fiction is considered among the most extensive in the world.

“Otto Penzler is among the most important book collectors anywhere, and is a fixture in the mystery books community,” Gannon said. “He has spent a lifetime assembling an incredible collection, and his decision to bring them to auction represents a rare opportunity for serious book collectors to acquire some incredible volumes.”

Among the top lots from the Penzler collection:

·         A rare first edition in the original first printing dustjacket of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (estimate: $60,000+) prompted Penzler himself to call it the world’s best copy

·         Raymond Chandler’s 1939 The Big Sleep (estimate: $30,000+) is a first edition signed by Chandler on the front free endpaper with the note “With kindest regards.” Donald A. Yates’ copy, in an exceptional dust jacket, features his own signature in ink.

·         Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon (estimate: $30,000+) is a first edition and perhaps the highspot of the hard-boiled canon. The first book to feature Sam Spade, it was adapted for the screen four times; the third and best-known version, which was shot in 1941, starred Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor, and was directed by John Huston.

·         Dashiell Hammett The Dain Curse (estimate: $25,000+) is another first edition that is difficult to locate in a nice jacket, especially one that is unrestored. The author’s second book and the final Continental Op novel, it originally was published in four parts in Black Mask from November 1928 to February 1929.

·         A first edition association copy, inscribed for literature professor Donald A. Yates, Raymond Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (estimate: $20,000+) is the author’s follow-up to The Big Sleep. It is the second title featuring Philip Marlowe but the first to reach the big screen, when it was released in 1944 as “Murder, My Sweet.”

·         Hammett’s $106,000 Blood Money is an original paperback first edition (estimate: $20,000+) that combines “The Big Knockover” and “$106,000 Blood Money” into a single novel. This association copy is inscribed by Hammett to Lillian Hellman: “To Lillian - on the occasion / of one of her birthdays / Dashiell (nothing is too good for the ‘ little woman) Hammett / June 20, 1943” in a note written just five days after publication.

·         Edgar A[llan]. Poe. Tales (estimate: $12,000+) is a first edition, first printing. A remarkably clean copy, it includes bookplates of Edwin Marion Cox (identified in the holdings of Penn Libraries) and Michael Sadleir, an English author and noted book collector known for his 19th-century British Fiction collection at UCLA and his Gothic Romance collection at the University of Virginia.

Other top lots include, but are not limited to:

·         David Roberts The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia (estimate: $30,000+)

·         Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline in London: A Little Sunshine, A Little Rain (estimate: $20,000+)

·         Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, [1960] (estimate: $15,000)

·         J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, comprising: The Fellowship of the Ring (estimate: $12,000)

·         Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. London: Macmillan, 1874 (estimate: $7,500)

Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Auction Featuring The Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction, Part One will take place March 6 in New York.+

Philadelphia - Declared by the National Register of Historic Places to be “a noteworthy representative of a peculiar residential building type prevalent in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century period of American architecture,” Virginia House was the permanent residence of American diplomat Alexander Weddell (1876-1948) and his wife Virginia Chase Steedman Weddell (1874-1948). Their 16th century English manor was originally constructed as “Hawk’s Nest” by Thomas Hawkins (aka Fisher) in Warwick, England out of materials salvaged from the Warwick Priory; it was saved from demolition by the Weddells, who ultimately deconstructed and shipped the predominantly Tudor house overseas to Virginia where it was reassembled and modified in the late 1920s.

An amalgam of architectural styles, the house is also furnished eclectically, enhanced by furniture, textiles and decorative arts hailing from different geographical regions that were acquired during the Weddells’ personal and professional travels. Relatively unchanged since the Weddells’ untimely death in 1948, the house remains a time capsule -- a glimpse back to an era when affluent Americans adopted a Eurocentric aesthetic for their homes, grounds and gardens. Perhaps moreso though, the house’s furnishings are imbued with personal meaning, remaining as souvenirs of the couple’s stays in foreign and exotic regions such as India, Mexico City, Argentina, and Spain, as dictated by Mr. Weddell’s shifting ambassadorial duties.

In 1907, Weddell secured appointment as secretary to the minister to Denmark, beginning a successful career in Foreign Service punctuated by appointments to Zanzibar, Sicily, Beirut, Athens, Cairo. Later in Calcutta, Weddell met his future wife, Virginia Atkinson Chase, who was at the time on a round-the-world tour with her friends. Bonding over their mutual love of travel, history, art and collecting, the couple began a whirlwind romance that culminated in their marriage in 1923. Weddell opted to retire from the Foreign Service in 1928 after a four year stint in Mexico City, he was called out of retirement in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed him Ambassador to Argentina and then to Spain. Weddell retired permanently in 1942, and the couple then returned to Virginia and to their permanent home, Virginia House, which Alexander fondly named after his beloved wife.Through the Weddells’ remarkable travels they lovingly assembled a cohesive and impressive collection of English, Spanish, Ottoman, and Latin American furniture, decorative arts, and paintings, as well as silver, Southeast Asian bronzes, Gothic and Renaissance sculpture, Brussels and Mortlake tapestries, carpets, and textiles. Enamored of the erudite and genteel English country life, Alexander built a refined and extensive library of early manuscripts and reference texts in the gentlemanly tradition, while Virginia developed a very fine collection of English and Spanish embroideries, French and Italian silks and velvets, and ecclesiastical vestments to furnish their home and upholster their antiques. Furniture highlights from the collection include a fine Spanish Baroque walnut and giltwood vargueño on stand, a rare Elizabethan marquetry oak court cupboard, an exceptional late Elizabethan/early Jacobean carved oak court cupboard, and a very early Ottoman inlaid walnut chest circa 1400. Of special note are a group of Himalayan bronze, copper alloy, and carved wood Buddhist works of art, collected by the Weddells on their travels in India and China. The earliest works date to the 15th century and include a fine figure of Buddha with elaborate engraved robe, and two large Nepalese figures of bodhisattvas. Ottoman silver and tombak; Russian niello snuffboxes from the period of Catherine the Great; and English, French, American, and Mexican silver are also represented.

The Weddells carefully chose paintings that complemented the Jacobean interiors of their home, and foremost among them are an impressive Jacobean portrait of an English nobleman and his child, thought to be Sir Francis Clarke and his daughter Dorothy; a period portrait of Sir Henry Norris, Baron of Rycote; as well as a rare portrait of a female courtier by German artist Franz Kessler, executed in 1620. During their time in South America, the couple also brought home several fine examples of the Spanish Colonial School. Of particular note is a 17th century painting done in the style of the Cusco School that the Weddells purchased in Lima, Peru in 1937. The work depicts the Death of the Virgin, surrounded by numerous mourning saints dressed in richly decorated gold brocaded robes.

In 1929, Virginia House was presented by the Weddells to the Virginia Historical Society, where Alexander served as President, under an agreed lifetime tenancy. Following the Weddells’ tragic and unexpected deaths in a train accident on New Year’s Day 1948, the Historical Society took ownership and management of the property, serving as faithful stewards of the house and collection for seventy years. Virginia House has remained open to the public as a historic house museum, and in 2017 the Historical Society’s board of trustees approved a plan to increase the use of Virginia House with a focus on donor stewardship, public and private events, and interpretive programs. The Historical Society has partnered with Freeman’s to assist in the thoughtful deaccessioning of items unrelated to the mission of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, the Historical Society’s primary accessioning institution. Proceeds from the sale will be placed in a restricted fund for the preservation of the property’s historic structures and landscape features and the acquisition and direct care of collections used to interpret the site and the extraordinary story of Alexander and Virginia Weddell.


Thursday & Friday, April 04 & 05: 10am-5pm

Saturday & Sunday, April 06 & 07: 12pm-5pm

Monday & Tuesday, April 08 & 09: 10am-5pm

By appointment only on the morning of the sale


Wednesday, April 10, 2019: 10 am

138.jpgFalls Church, Virginia - A letter written by Abraham Lincoln in the early days of the Civil War, a document from 1793 signed by Washington and Jefferson; and a rare first-edition copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) are a few of the highlight lots in a February 28 auction to be hosted by the Waverly Rare Books division of Quinn’s Auction Galleries. Start time is 6 p.m. Eastern, and all forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone and live LiveAuctioneers.

The one-page Lincoln letter, framed and handwritten on Executive Mansion stationery, was penned on June 10, 1861, just two months after the firing on Fort Sumter. Lincoln writes to Captain John Adolphus Dahlgren (1809-1870), asking about the possible government purchase of a new gun. He signs it, “Yours truly, A. Lincoln.” The letter should command $6,000-$8,000.

The 1793 document, signed by George Washington as President and Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, regards the appointment of Thomas Benbury to “Inspector of the Revenue for Survey Number Two in the District of North Carolina,” just a week before Benbury’s death. Affixed with the Seal of the United States and nicely framed, the document has an estimate of $5,000-$7,000.

The first-edition, first-printing copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic book Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or, Life Among the Lowly), is expected to reach $3,000-$5,000. Published in 1852 by John P. Jewett & Co. (Cleveland, Ohio), the book includes several anomalies (example: it says “cathecism” rather than “catechism”). It has a modern, tan leather binding, with the book’s title on the spine.

Also among books pertaining to Black Americana and slavery, a first-edition copy of Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom (Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855), should knock down $800-$1,200. With an introduction by Dr. James McCune Smith, the book shows the ownership inscription of Mrs. Mary Huntington (Mexico, N.Y.) and is dated 1855.

Items pertaining to the Kennedys seem to hold endless fascination for collectors. A 1961 inaugural-edition hardback copy of John F. Kennedy’s best-selling book Profiles in Courage (Harper & Brothers, N.Y.), with dust jacket, carries a pre-sale estimate of $400-$600. The book is inscribed: “For Betty Osborn - with every good wish,” possibly written by JFK’s secretary.

Jackie Kennedy memorabilia often has more value than items directly connected to JFK, as is the case with her black lace mantilla (or head scarf), which is expected to realize $1,000-$2,000. The 60-inch by 23-inch mantilla is from the collection of Mary B. Gallagher, Jackie’s personal secretary, secretary to John F. Kennedy when he was a U.S. Senator, and the author of My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy. 

A pair of Confederate Civil War diaries is being offered as one lot, with an estimate of $1,000-$2,000. One, from 1862, is presumed to be that of Private John Carpenter, who writes with clarity and immediacy about the battles of Fredericksburg, Antietam and Pickett’s Brigade. The other one, from 1865, is from Private H.H. Ewbank and contains notes about the post-war period.

A first-edition copy of The Gospel According to Saint John, one of 2,000 copies printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society (London, 1804), with text in English and Mohawk on facing pages, should fetch $800-$1,200. According to the book, “The translator was a young educated Mohawk named Teyoninhokarawen, commonly called John Norton.” 

A Ronald Reagan briefing sheet, signed by Reagan and dated August 11, 1988, is expected to make $200-$400. The matted sheet measures 24 inches by 18 inches and reads, “START: Are we better off with a START agreement?” Below that Reagan inscribes, “Yes. Ronald Reagan.” From the Reagan Foundation’s diary entry: “A fruitful meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

One lot containing more than 40 photographs from the Secret Service archives carries a pre-sale estimate of $200-$400. The photos are of historical luminaries including Presidents Jimmy Carter, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Harry Truman.

The Feb. 28, 2019 Presidential & Americana Auction will be held at Quinn’s gallery, 360 S. Washington St., Falls Church, Virginia. Bid live at the gallery, by phone, absentee, or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers. For preview hours, please consult the company’s website, www.quinnsauction.com. The gallery is closed on Sundays.

For additional information about any item, please call 703-532-5632, extension 575; or e-mail waverly@quinnsauction.com. View the online catalog and register to bid absentee or live online, at LiveAuctioneers.com. Visit Quinn’s and Waverly’s online at: http://www.quinnsauction.com

Image: Lot 138, First-edition, first-printing copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or, Life Among the Lowly), published in 1852 by John P. Jewett & Co. (Cleveland, Ohio), est. $3,000-$5,000

Boston Athenaeum Announces Expansion

4th floor_LongRoom-Rendering w label.jpgBoston—The Boston Athenæum, a distinguished and vibrant independent library and cultural institution, announces its expansion via a long-term lease of 19,400 square feet in an adjacent building at 14 Beacon Street.

The lease will provide the Athenæum’s historic and contemporary collections with room to flourish, while better serving patrons and simplifying staff workflows. It will:

  • restore much-needed space for library members in the peaceful, architecturally-significant reading rooms at 10 ½ Beacon Street, while enhancing acoustics and accessibility;
  • add shelves for the continually-growing library of more than half a million items in the circulating library;
  • increase and improve spaces for events, discussion groups, visitors, and rentals;
  • create connected workspaces for cataloging, conserving, digitizing, curating, and teaching with the special collections, comprising more than 100,000 rare books, manuscripts, artworks and other materials; and
  • connect floorplates in the two buildings to facilitate open circulation between patron and staff spaces in both 10 ½ Beacon and 14 Beacon, a move that will foster collaboration and innovation to serve patrons better.

“The board has long known of the need for additional space to care for our library’s valuable and ever-expanding holdings,” says John S. Reed, president of the Athenæum’s Board of Trustees. “We looked at a range of options for responsible growth over time, including moving collections off-site—a prospect soundly rejected by our members. After months of careful deliberation, we are happy to have identified a practical, cost-effective solution right next door.”

“Contiguous space has become available only a handful of times in the last century,” Reed says. “We appreciate the singular opportunity to enter into a long-term lease with Faros Properties. They appreciate the Athenæum’s mission of engaging people who seek knowledge, and stewarding our library full of treasures. They understand the importance of this historic library to the city of Boston.”

The two-year project is advancing with an experienced team: owner’s project managers Smith+St. John; the architecture firm of Schwartz/Silver, known for its award-winning designs for libraries, museums, and historically-significant structures; and Windover Construction of Beverly, MA, a construction management firm with expertise in historic renovation and preservation for museum, cultural, academic, and institutional clients.

“The expansion will benefit Athenæum members and staff, and it will also serve those in the scholarly community who will come to conduct research,” says Creelea Pangaro, a vice president of the Board. “We will be able to move employees out of improvised workspaces that developed over time in the architecturally-significant rooms at 10½ Beacon, and into connected, efficiently-organized offices at number 14. We will be renovating 2,000 square feet of space for storing our special collections. Most significantly, the move will free up more than 4,000 square feet in the one-of-a-kind library environment for the use of the library’s devoted members, who come to read, think, write, and gather together for discussions and events.”

Additionally, members and visitors will find improved first-floor facilities for visiting, reading, and attending lectures and concerts. Beautiful, rentable meeting and social spaces will be made available to the Boston community during times when members are not using them for discussion groups, book talks, and other activities.

This year marks the Athenæum’s 170th anniversary at 10½ Beacon Street, an edifice that was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The library has undergone renovations frequently through its history, to accommodate the rapid growth of the collections, fire-proof the building, and install modern climate control, security, and accessibility elements. Partial expansion into the basement and first floor of 14 Beacon was completed in 2002; before that, the last major space expansion took place in 1914-15 with the addition of two additional levels, the fourth and fifth floors, to the original structure.

“The Athenæum is a breathtaking special resource—for its members, our neighbors in Boston, and scholars from around the world,” Pangaro says. “Over many decades, the spaces and activities within its walls have evolved to meet the needs of library patrons—some changing, and others constant. We’re proud to announce a thoughtful expansion that will build on the library’s legacy and demonstrate our investment in its continuation and betterment, far into the future.”

For additional information and visuals, including periodic progress reports, visit the Boston Athenæum online or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Image: Rendering of the renovated fourth floor. 

Lux Mentis - higher res req.jpegNew York—The beloved New York International Antiquarian Book Fair (NYIABF) produced by Sanford L. Smith + Associates returns to the Park Avenue Armory for its 59th edition March 7-10, 2019. A mecca for bibliophiles and seekers of the curious and quirky, the fair will present a vast treasure trove of material - rare books, maps, illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, fine bindings, illustrations, historical documents and print ephemera.

The Book Fair, widely considered the finest antiquarian book fair in the world, has been a must-see event for seasoned connoisseurs and scholars. In recent years, it has increasingly captivated young collectors with unique offerings at accessible price points. The specialties encompass art, science, medicine, literature, history, culinary culture, fashion, first editions, Americana, philosophy, children’s books and much more. From the historic and academic, to the religious and spiritual, to the bedrock of secular culture - sex, lies, rock-n-roll, money, politics - the fair has offerings in every conceivable genre and subject. NYIABF is officially sanctioned by Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) and International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB).

In its 59th edition, NYIABF will present more than 200 exhibitors culled from the finest American and international antiquarian dealers. In addition to 102 U.S. galleries, NYIABF enjoys strong international participation with galleries hailing from the United Kingdom (38), France (19), Germany (10), Italy (11), The Netherlands (6), Spain (1), Denmark (2), Australia (3), Austria (4), Argentina (3), Canada (2), Japan (2), Belgium (2), Czech Republic (1), and Switzerland (5).

Image: Credit Timothy Ely. Courtesy of Lux Mentis Booksellers.


gclmmjkibimagdod.jpgNew York-Swann Galleries’ March 5 auction boasts property from the Ismar Littmann Family Collection, a 160-lot offering of German Expressionism and European Avant-Garde. The afternoon session of 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings features an array of works from notable Modern, nineteenth-century and American artists.

Compiled in a separate catalogue, the Littmann offering celebrates a singular collector. Ismar Littmann began collecting in the 1910s, and his habits and tastes were individual and contemporary to the time-a parallel to the independent spirit of the Breslau art scene. The personal relationships he held with the artists, particularly Otto Mueller, had a deep influence on him and resulted in a collection with depth and insight, consisting of not only works of art, but correspondence between the collector and artists. By the end of the 1920s Littmann had acquired more than 6,000 works. The Nazis’ rise to power put a strain on the collector’s livelihood as well as art patronage, and much of the collection was lost or destroyed. Littmann’s combined financial and personal losses, as well as the overwhelming persecution of his faith and culture, led him to commit suicide in September of 1934. Littmann’s eldest son was able to immigrate to the United States with a portion of the family collection that same year. These works, along with additional pieces sent later, have since remained with the family. Swann Galleries is very pleased and honored to have been trusted with the historic offering.  

Notable lots include Otto Mueller’s color lithographs from 1926-27, Zwei Zigeunerinnen (Zigeunermutter mit Tochter) and Lagernde Zigeunerfamilie mit Ziege which are expected to bring $25,000 to $35,000 and $30,000 to $50,000, respectively. Max Pechstein’s portfolio of 50 lithographs, Reisebilder: Italien-Sudsee, 1919, depicting scenes from Italy and Germany (Estimate: $25,000-35,000), as well as the watercolor Russisches Ballet, 1912, and a woodcut, Sommer I, 1912, are among the highlights ($15,000-20,000 and $10,000-15,000, respectively). Further works include Allee im Tiergarten, Berlin, circa 1920, a color pastel depiction of an urban landscape by Lesser Ury, and a Nicolas Ghika oil on canvas, Intérieur avec chevalet d’artiste, circa 1920s, that portrays the artist’s studio. Both are estimated at $50,000 to $80,000. 

The afternoon session following the Littmann Collection offers a broad selection of high-end prints and drawings. The top lot is Edvard Munch’s Kyss IV, 1902-a first-state woodblock print based on the artist’s oil painting of the same title. Only six other impressions of Kyss IV have come to auction in the past 30 years ($150,000-250,000). Additional works by Modern masters include Sonia Delaunay’s color pochoir and watercolor illustration of Blaise Cendrars’ poem La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France, 1913, which explored the frustrated yet wonderous experience of living through a period of ever-accelerating modernity ($70,000-100,000); Natura Morta con Cinque Oggetti, 1956, a still-life etching by Giorgio Morandi ($30,000-50,000); and Joan Miró’s  La Permissionaire, 1974, ($40,000-60,000).

Nineteenth-century stalwarts include artist-friends (and rivals) Paul Gaugin and Vincent van Gogh, with remarkable works on paper: Noa Noa, 1893-94, a superb color woodcut by Gaugin, is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000, and Van Gogh’s Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, 1890, the artist’s only known etching, comes across the block at $80,000 to $120,000. William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job, 1826, complete with 22 engravings, is expected to bring $30,000 to $50,000.   

Highlights from the American section include Winslow Homer’s Mending the Tears, 1888­-a line-based etching of rural women darning a fishing net ($10,000-15,000). Martin Lewis’s quintessential New York drypoint Rain on Murray Hill, 1928, displays the artist’s mastery of depicting nocturnal and atmospheric conditions ($15,000-20,000). Works by Thomas Hart Benton, Childe Hassam, and Joseph Pennell ensure a standout selection.   

Exhibition opening in New York City February 28. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at www.swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries’ App.

Additional highlights can be found here.

Image: Lot 112: Otto Mueller, Lagernde Zigeunerfamilie mit Ziege, color lithograph, 1926-27. From the Ismar Littmann Family Collection. Estimate $30,000 to $50,000.

Talbot_RooflineLacock_sharpened_PR 2.jpgNew York - Photography on paper was born in 1839 in England at Lacock Abbey. A new exhibition of photographs juxtaposes the work of its inventor William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) with the contemporary work of Hiroshi Sugimoto, Abelardo Morell, and Mike Robinson. Lacock Abbey: Birthplace of Photography on Paper will be on view at Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs from March 2 through May 10, 2019. The exhibition, which pays tribute to Talbot’s beloved ancestral home in Wiltshire, features architectural exteriors and interiors, still lifes, portraits, and tree studies by Talbot, complemented by interpretations from three contemporary artists, who have been inspired by his pioneering photographs.

Among the highlights of the exhibition is one of the earliest examples of Talbot’s calotype negative process, Stable roofline, northeast courtyard, Lacock Abbey, a salt print from September 1840, made the year after he announced his invention to the world. This apparently unique print has never before been exhibited. (This is confirmed by The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné, which was just released by the Bodleian Libraries.) Set in Lacock’s northeast courtyard, this spectral image of shows Talbot’s innate compositional talent emphasizing the geometric proportions of his home. 

Talbot demonstrated that photography could serve as a bridge between the ancient and modern worlds with his Bust of Patroclus, 1842. The plaster bust of Patroclus, defender of Achilles, was one of Talbot’s most frequently used subjects. Unlike a person, a plaster cast remains steady during the long exposures and experiments with lighting. This boldly sculpted, highly reflective head modulated light and shadow in an infinite number of ways from a wide variety of angles. Talbot’s brush strokes around the border of this exceptional salt print identify this as an early print coated by hand. Later prints appeared in Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, the first commercially-published photographically-illustrated book (1844-1846). The print on view was made from the same calotype negative as was later used in The Pencil. Art historians are indebted to Talbot, because his invention allowed scholars to study objects in photographic reproduction.

Also on display is Lace, a fine early 1840s salt print. The negative for this print was made without a camera by placing an intricate piece of lace on a sheet of photographically-sensitized paper, capturing its shadow, and producing the boldly graphic image. When Talbot held Lace in front of a group of people they believed it to be an actual piece of lace and were astounded to learn that it was a photographic representation instead. Physically flat, highly detailed, and possessing myriad distinctive anomalies such as torn threads, Lace was an ideal exemplar of Talbot’s method of demonstrating photography’s ability to record a level of detail comparable to that found in still lifes by the most accomplished Dutch painters. 

Talbot’s home and his interpretations of it have inspired several living artists. Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948) renews our sense of the wonder and mystery that accompanied the dawn of photography and pays homage to Talbot in An Oriel Window at Lacock Abbey, probably Summer 1835, a toned gelatin silver print from 2010.  Sugimoto photographed one of Talbot’s earliest photogenic drawing negatives, inverted the image during the production process, and greatly enlarged it, obtaining a positive print of a negative the inventor had never printed.  He then toned the image in colors corresponding to the colors of Talbot’s own prints.  Sugimoto’s creative intervention is a reflection on the medium, implicitly narrating its beginnings while gesturing toward his vision of its future. 

Abelardo Morell (American, b. 1948, Cuba) made his first picture using camera obscura techniques in his darkened living room in 1991. The exhibition includes a print of Camera Obscura: Courtyard Building, Lacock Abbey, England, from 2003, made by the artist partly in homage to Talbot and partly to suggest the ongoing spirit his invention continues to instill in the curiosity and practice of present day artists.

Ironically, the most recent pictures in the show are daguerreotypes made in 2018 by Mike Robinson (Canadian, b. 1961).  He boldly brings his mastery of the French inventor Daguerre’s process to the home of the British inventor of photography on paper. 

A reception for the exhibition is being held on Saturday, March 2nd in conjunction with the first ADAA Upper East Side Gallery Walk.

Image: William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800-1877); Stable roofline, northeast courtyard, Lacock Abbey, September 1840; Salt print from a calotype negative, 8.0 x 8.2 cm

ce4673ff640bf7adc4bd70f2_1220x574.jpgNew York-The Morgan Library & Museum announced today the exterior restoration of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library, designed by McKim, Mead & White. The four-year, $12.5 million project, which marks the first preservation of the landmark library’s exterior in its 112-year history, will restore and conserve one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture in the United States, enhance the surrounding grounds, improve the exterior lighting of the building, and increase public access to and appreciation of this historic architectural treasure. 

J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library is the heart of the Morgan Library & Museum. Commissioned in 1902 by financier John Pierpont Morgan as his private library, the building was completed in 1906 and is considered one of McKim, Mead & White’s finest works, perfectly embodying the Renaissance ideal of the unity of the arts through the integration of architecture, sculpture, and painting with exceptional craftsmanship and materials. The structure reflects its contents: majestic in design, yet intimate in scale.

In 2010 the Morgan restored the interior rooms of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. In 2016 the Morgan began planning for the exterior restoration by engaging Integrated Conservation Resources (ICR), a firm specializing in the restoration of historic structures, to provide an initial needs assessment of the Library’s condition. Following the needs assessment, the Morgan engaged ICR to undertake a more detailed analysis of the building, which resulted in a fully articulated restoration approach. ICR, supported by the architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle, carefully studied and documented existing conditions, installed data loggers to monitor the performance of the exterior envelope, tested proposed remediations, and finalized the restoration’s details.

The forthcoming restoration will be comprehensive and will address issues such as masonry deterioration, masonry joint failure, roof conditions, deterioration of the fence and other metalwork corrosion, and sculpture conservation.

In conjunction with the restoration, exterior lighting on J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library—currently minimal and ineffective—will be improved by enhancing existing light emanating from the interior, using historic fixtures coupled with new technologies. The scheme will create a painterly effect of layered light at dusk and dark. Developed by Tillett Lighting Design Associates, the new lighting design will give the Library a subtle, timeless, and inviting presence.

Restoring J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library presents a unique opportunity to reimagine the natural setting around it and to provide for visitor access to the site’s exterior for the first time in the institution’s history. The current landscaping—comprising a simple lawn and trees—does little to complement the architecture of the Library, nor does it provide accessible pathways or spaces to encourage visitor interaction with the landmark building’s exterior. By creating new spaces and opportunities for engagement, the project will help to reinvigorate this portion of the Morgan’s campus, which has been less visible to visitors since the Morgan’s entrance shifted from 36th Street to Madison Avenue as part of the 2006 Renzo Piano-designed expansion.

After an extensive search, the Morgan has engaged Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design to develop designs to address these issues. An accomplished landscape architect, historian, teacher, and author, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan has led notable projects in the United Kingdom, including for Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace Gardens, and the Royal College of Art. This is his first appointment in the United States. Longstaffe-Gowan will collaborate with New York-based Future Green Studio to ensure the development of plantings that will flourish in New York City’s dense, challenging environment. 

“Restoring the sublime exterior of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library is far and away our most important capital project for the next decade,” said Director Colin B. Bailey. “This is our responsibility. And, in many respects, it is our privilege.Once the restoration of the Library is complete and the grounds are revitalized, the public will be able to engage more fully with one of McKim, Mead & White’s most important architectural achievements. The enhanced grounds will create a generous new space for outdoor programming and allow visitors to look closely at the exterior architectural and sculptural details of the Library.”

To date, 74 percent of the required $12.5 million is funded. On-site work will commence in February 2019, directed by Sciame and executed by Nicholson & Galloway, longtime partners in the architectural expansion and stewardship of the Morgan. Restoration of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library will be completed by December 2019, at which point work will commence on the surrounding grounds.The library will still be open to visitors during the restoration process.The entire restoration and rehabilitation of the grounds will be unveiled to the public and accessible in fall 2020. The unveiling will be accompanied by an exhibition chronicling the history of the Library, as well as a scholarly publication.

Image: Wurts Bros. (New York, N.Y.) Madison Avenue near East 36th Street. J.P. Morgan Library. Museum of the City of New York, X2010.7.1.197.

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