Fine Association Copies, Rare First Editions at Swann Galleries on June 17


New York—Swann Galleries’ 19th & 20th Century Literature auction on Wednesday, June 17 features signed first editions from Tennessee Williams, first edition works by Agatha Christie and many lauded children’s authors, a run of work by Charles Dickens and multiple association copies. 

The sale includes a rare first edition association copy of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, 1947 (estimate: $15,000 to $20,000), signed by the author and the six principle members of the original Broadway cast, including Marlon Brando. The present copy belonged to Herbert Adrian Rehner, a frequent dinner guest of Williams’.

Other fine association copies include a virtually flawless first edition of famed writer Gertrude Stein’s Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia, 1912 ($4,000 to $6,000) inscribed to American art collector and philanthropist Emily Crane Chadbourne, a frequent guest of Stein’s renowned salon. There is also a scarce author’s edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, 1882 ($5,000 to $7,500). While the edition itself is incredibly rare, the fact that it is an association copy inscribed to the abolitionist F.B. Sanborn makes this copy particularly important. 


Highlights among the children’s books in the sale include a first edition of the 1929 Newbery Honor award winner, Millions of Cats, 1929 ($1,800 to $2,500), one of the most highly sought-after children’s books of the 20th century, written and illustrated by Wanda Gág. Another rare first edition with a history of high demand is Virginia Burton Lee’s The Little House, 1942 ($8,000 to $12,000). Also featured is a run of work by A.A. Milne, creator of the cherished Winnie-the-Pooh. 

Crime novels are well represented in this auction with a first American edition of Dashiell Hammett’s The Glass Key, 1931 ($10,000 to $15,000). Also showcased are several first-edition Agatha Christie novels, including an unusually well-preserved copy of Murder in Mesopotamia, 1936 ($3,000 to $4,000), as well as a first American edition of Death on the Nile, 1938 ($500 to $750). 

There is also is a run of works from beloved English author Charles Dickens, including an early issue first edition of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, 1837 ($3,000 to $4,000) and a finely-bound first edition, first issue three-volume set of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy’s Progress, 1838 ($2,500 to 3,500). 

Rounding out the sale are two books by Irish authors whose yearly celebrations occur right before the auction. The auction occurs just one day after Bloomsday, named for the protagonist of James Joyce’s Ulysses, 1922, and the sale will showcase a first printing copy of the novel on handmade paper ($6,000 to $9,000). Just before Bloomsday, poetry lovers will celebrate Yeats Day. This year is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nobel Prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats, and the auction will include a first edition volume of The Poetical Works, Volume II Dramatical Poems, 1907 ($400 to $600) signed by both the poet and his wife. 

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17. The books will be on public exhibition on Saturday, June 13, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, June 15 and Tuesday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 17, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

An illustrated catalogue, with information on bidding, 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 Larson at (212) 254-4710, extension 61, or via email at

Live online bidding is also available via

First image: Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, first edition, signed by Williams and the principal cast members of the original Broadway cast, including Marlon Brandon, New York, 1947. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.

Second image: Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House, first edition, first printing, Boston, 1942. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000.

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