Books From George Washington’s Personal Library Upcoming at Sotheby’s

April 16 2013 — Sotheby’s New York is pleased to offer The Library of a Distinguished American Book Collector in a dedicated auction on 4 June 2013. Acquired over the course of nearly three decades, this collection, expected to fetch over $5 million, reflects the collector’s great intellectual curiosity and eclectic interests, as well as a deeply held passion for American history. Among the 250 lots on offer, the library has a particular emphasis on George Washington, highlighted by seven books from Washington’s Mount Vernon Library, all with his bold signature on their title pages and his bookplate (est. $1/1.5 million). This is the largest group of books from Washington’s library to appear in a single auction since the Bishop John Fletcher Hurst sale in 1904 and features novels such as Jonathan Swift’s The Beauties of Swift, Alain Rene Le Sage’s The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane. Vol. 3.  and Joseph Priestley’s Discourses Relating to the Evidences of Revealed Religion. Highlights from the collection will be on view at our Boston, Chicago and London offices in May, and the full collection will be on exhibition at our New York galleries beginning 31 May 2013 in advance of the sale. 


Further highlights of the sale include an extraordinarily fresh copy of the 1754 Journal of George Washington, his account of the French and Indian War prepared for the House of Burgesses (est. $100/150,000) and an important letter signed by him about securing New York City during the Revolutionary War (est. $70/100,000).

The Library also contains many literary first editions including a beautiful copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (est. $120/180,000), an unusually tight, bright copy of Moby-Dick (est. $40/60,000), and an extensive collection of works by Mark Twain. The collector went beyond the boundaries of the United States as well, and his Library includes what is probably the world’s finest set of Captain James Cook’s Voyages (est. $100/150,000), exceptional copies of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (est. $90/120,000) and On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (est. $100/150,000), and an inscribed first edition (est. $65/95,000) and proof copy (est. $80/120,000) of  Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence of Arabia.


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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium and prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.

 

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