Fine Association Copies & True First Edition of Anne Frank's Diary at Swann Galleries, May 18

Lot-339-Henry-Roth copy.jpgNew York— On Wednesday, May 18, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature, featuring many signed first editions and association copies, as well as a run of Faulkner first editions and an excellent selection of children’s books.

            Headlining the sale is a first edition of Henry Roth’s acclaimed Call It Sleep, (1934), in the first state dust jacket. The book is an association copy, signed and inscribed by Roth to his longtime friend and literary executor Lawrence I. Fox, and is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000. Another fine association copy is a first edition, first issue of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, 1925 ($4,000 to $6,000), which belonged to Sheilah Graham, the novelist’s last lover. Also included by Fitzgerald is a first edition, first issue copy of Taps at Reveille, the last book published in the author’s lifetime ($3,000 to $4,000). Another association copy comes in the form of a first German edition of Charles Bukowski’s Stories and Novels (Stories und Romane), signed and inscribed to Bukowski’s longtime publisher and benefactor John Martin ($600 to $900). Other signed copies include a limited edition of Virginia Woolf’s essay Street Haunting, 1930 ($800 to $1,200). 

            One rare auction highlight is the true first edition of Anne Frank’s diary, titled Het Achterhius, (1947), in the original Dutch. Only 1,500 copies of the book were originally published, though later it would be translated and published in more than 60 languages, becoming one of the most widely read books in the world. Het Achterhius is estimated at $5,000 to $7,500. Other rare classics include a second impression of the first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, 1922, one of only 2000 copies issued, at least 500 of which were intercepted by U.S. Customs, who confiscated and burned the novel for obscenity in the 1920s. As a result, this issue has become even less common that the first edition; it is estimated at $5,000 to $7,500.

            Among books of poetry in the sale is a second edition of Walt Whitman’s seminal Leaves of Grass, with an additional 20 poems not found in the first edition ($9,000 to $12,000). A first edition, first issue of beloved poet Robert Frost’s first commercially-published book, A Boy’s Will, 1913 ($5,000 to $7,500), is also included in the sale, as is a first edition of Irish poet and playwright Samuel Beckett’s first book, Whoroscope, 1930, comprised of a single extended poem for which Beckett won a £10 prize and publication by The Hours Press for the best poem on “time.” Whoroscope is signed by the author and housed in a custom case; it is estimated at $5,000 to $7,500.

            The sale also features a run of first editions by celebrated Southern author and Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner.  Among the many lots on offer is a first edition copy of Sartoris, (1929), Faulkner’s third novel ($3,000 to $4,000), and a first edition of his acclaimed fourth novel, The Sound and the Fury, 1929, in the second state dust jacket ($3,000 to $4,000).

            Completing the auction is a strong selection of children’s literature, headlined by a two-volume set of first edition, first issue, signed presentation copies of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, 1866 and 1872 ($15,000 to $25,000). Both volumes are signed and inscribed by Carroll to Bessie Slatter, whose family was close friends with the author. A four-volume set of first editions of A. A. Milne’s famous quartet beginning with When We Were Very Young, 1924, and continuing through The House at Pooh Corner, 1928 ($5,000 to $7,500), will also be on offer. A first edition of British poet and illustrator Edward Lear’s The Book of Nonsense, By Derry Down Derry, 1846, is included in the sale, with the two volumes bound as one. It is one of only 23 copies of the first edition believed to have survived, and the book, described in the catalogue as a “legendary rarity,” is estimated at $3,000 to $4,000.

The auction will be held Wednesday, May 18, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Friday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, May 14 from noon to 5 p.m; Monday, May 16 and Tuesday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Wednesday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to noon.

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 or to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact specialist, John D. Larson at 212-254-4710, extension 61 or

Image: Lot 339 Henry Roth, Call it Sleep, first edition, signed and inscribed by author to Lawrence I. Fox, New York, 1934. Consigned by the ABAA for the Benefit of the Elisabeth Woodburn Educational Fund and the Benevolent Fund. Estimate $15,000 to $25,000.

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