The Lawrence M. Solomon Collection of Mystery, Detective & Sci-Fi at Swann Galleries


New York—On Tuesday, November 10, Swann Galleries’ Books & Manuscripts department will offer a two-part sale of 19th & 20th Century Literature Featuring the Lawrence M. Solomon Collection.

The sale will open with the Lawrence M. Solomon Collection. Dr. Solomon, a renowned and respected dermatologist who lived and worked in Chicago, fell in love with books at an early age. He began collecting in earnest at age 12, and by the time of his death last year at the age of 83, Dr. Solomon had amassed a collection of 6,000 books, ranging from the macabre works of Edgar Allen Poe to the most dramatic pulp hits, including many first editions and a few very special and scarce items that trace back to the roots of the genres he loved. Dr. Solomon’s collection is headlined by three novels by Dashiell Hammett, progenitor of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. Hammett’s influential The Maltese Falcon, first edition in the rare first issue pictorial dust jacket, New York, 1930 (estimated at $30,000 to $40,000); while his first novel, Red Harvest, in its rare first issue dust jacket, New York, 1929, ($25,000 to $35,000); and a first edition of his second book, The Dain Curse, also in the rare original dust jacket, New York, 1929 ($15,000 to $20,000).


Among the special and scare editions is a first edition of Jules Verne’s first book published in America, From the Earth to the Moon; Passage Direct in 97 Hours and 20 Minutes, Newark, 1869 ($25,000 to $35,000). This is the first time this rare book has come to auction (only four copies are known to exist, including one in the Library of Congress). Another rarity is the first American edition, first printing of Gaston Leroux’s powerful The Phantom of the Opera, in it’s original dust jacket, New York, (1911), ($15,000 to $20,000). This is the first in-jacket example of this edition to appear at auction.

Dr. Solomon was also a devoted Sherlockian, and his love of the iconic detective is clear in this collection, with over twenty works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle represented. The Sherlockiana selection includes multiple first edition variants of the classic The Hound of the Baskervilles, including an unrecorded version of the first American edition in what may be a unique surviving dust jacket, New York, 1902 ($4,000 to $6,000). Other highlights include an exceedingly scarce French’s acting edition, first edition, first impression of Doyle’s The Speckled Band. An Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, New York and London, 1912 ($10,000 to $15,000); and a numbered, limited edition thirteen volume set of Doyle’s Works, from the author’s edition, New York, 1902 ($8,000 to $12,000).  

The second half of the sale will resume in the afternoon, with important works of fiction, drama and poetry from various collections: a first edition in English of Alexander Dumas’s The Count of Monte-Cristo, in two volumes, London, 1846 ($5,000 to $7,000); a first edition of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, signed by the author, in its first issue dust jacket, New York, 1949 ($4,000 to $6,000); a first edition, first issue, two-volume set of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Paris, 1955 ($2,000 to $3,000); a first edition of Henry David Thoreau’s groundbreaking Walden; or, Life in the Woods, Boston, 1854 ($2,000 to $3,000); and a first English edition of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, London, 1929 ($1,000 to $1,500)

The afternoon session also includes a fine selection of children’s books, including a first edition of Walt Disney Studios’ Adventures of Mickey Mouse, Book 1, in its scare dust jacket in an unrestored state, Philadelphia, (1931) ($5,000 to $7,500). This is considered the first Mickey Mouse book appearance, as well as Donald Duck’s first appearance in print. Another rarity is a first edition of Lewis Carroll’s two-volume set Sylvie and Bruno and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, New York, 1889-93 ($3,000 to $4,000). Possibly one of twelve original presentation copies of this set, they are warmly inscribed to Irene Barnes, a child actress who was cast, at Carroll’s suggestion, in several roles in the 1888 revival of the play of Alice in Wonderland.

The auction will be split into two sessions on Tuesday November 10, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public, with an exhibition opening Thursday, November 5 and Friday, November 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, November 7 from noon to 5 p.m.; and Monday, November 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An illustrated auction catalogue 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 John D. Larson at 212-254-4710, extension 61, or via e-mail at

First image: Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest, first edition of Hammett's first book, in first-issue dust jacket, New York, 1929. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.

Second image: Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon, first edition, first copy of this issue to appear at auction, Newark, 1869. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.

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