Auction Record for John Andre Manuscript Set in Swann Americana Sale

Lot-31-John-Andre-drawings.jpgNew York-Swann Galleries’ June 21 sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana brought more than $700,000, capping off a standout year for Americana at the house, which has seen buoyant prices in the 2015-16 auction season.

Book Department Director and Americana Specialist Rick Stattler said, "Following million-dollar auctions in September 2015 and February 2016, this sale marked the first time in more than thirty years that we have offered three general Americana sales in one fiscal year. The results show a strong audience for quality material of the colonial period, the American Revolution, and the Western frontier, all of which continue to out-perform expectations.”

The top lot of the auction was a first-edition Book of Mormon, which brought $52,500, close to a record for a rebound copy of the religious text. A pencil portrait drawn by British spymaster John André broke the record for any André manuscript, selling for $47,500 to a collector, while another record-setter was a first edition of Lucy Smith’s Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, 1853, which sold for $3,500. Overall, 100% of the Mormon-related material offered sold.

Institutional acquisitions among the top lots included the papers of Hartley Rowe, an electrical engineer on the Panama Canal project, which sold for $8,750; and a narrative by Mexican Comisario General Miguel Barreiro, detailing a failed expedition into Texas in 1836, which brought $15,000. The Brooklyn Museum won a collection of love letters between Jane Schenck and Ralph Malbone, a good fit as the reconstructed Schenck manor house is on exhibit there, while the Stonington Historical Society in Connecticut brought home the Revolutionary War diary of officer Jonathan Palmer.

Auction surprises included an engraving titled Liberty Triumphant, which brought $27,500, and an 1868 diary detailing an English gentleman’s buffalo hunt in Kansas, which sold for $11,250.

The next sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Galleries is scheduled for November 17, 2016. For more information, or to consign materials, contact specialist Rick Stattler at or via phone (212) 254-4710, ext. 27.

Image: Lot 31 John André, pencil portraits of Mayor Abraham and Jannetje Cuyler of Albany, NY, circa 1776. Sold June 21, 2016 for $47,500, an auction record.


Auction Guide