12 Leading New York Books & Manuscripts Results in 2017

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Sotheby’s New York Books & Manuscripts department achieved extraordinary results and set numerous records in 2017, totalling over $17.6 million across eight sales. Auctions ranged from the exceptional white glove single owner sale, Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts, to Space Exploration, which included the Apollo 11 lunar bag used by Neil Armstrong to bring back the first samples of the moon ever collected. It sold for $1,812,500, setting the world record for an American space artefact.

Click ahead for the year's top highlights, and consign now for the upcoming season.

12 Leading New York Books & Manuscripts Results in 2017

  • Flown Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Outer Decontamination Bag, 1969. Sold for $1,812,500.
    The bag used by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 Mission to bring back the first samples of the Moon ever collected.

    Space Exploration on 20 July 2017 in New York
  • Francisco Goya y Lucientes, Los Caprichos. [Madrid: Printed by Rafael Esteve for the Artist, 1799]. Sold for $912,500.
    First edition of Goya’s first and most celebrated work. An exceptional copy in a contemporary Spanish binding.

    Master Paintings & Sculpture Evening Sale on 25 January 2017 in New York
  • An Exceedingly Rare Ashkenazic Hebrew Bible with Numerous Micrographic Decorations, Scribe: Mattithiah ben Jedidiah. [Northern France: ca. 1250–1275]. Sold for $555,000.
    An early Ashkenazic witness to the Jewish scribal tradition of figurative Masorah and one of only two known Ashkenazic Hebrew Bibles with micrographic ornamentation in private hands.

    Important Judaica on 20 December 2017 in New York
  • A Very Fine and Fully Operational Four-Rotor “M4” Kriegsmarine Enigma Cipher Machine. Berlin-Wilmersorf, Germany, Heimsoeth und Rinke, 1944. Sold for $435,000.
    The rarest and most desirable of all Enigmas, the M4 was one of the hardest to decrypt. Very few M4 machines survived the war, and to find one that it complete and still in such pristine condition, fully operational is rare indeed.

    History of Science & Technology on 12 December 2017 in New York
  • An Exceptional Copy of the Sefer Minhagim of Rabbi Samuel of Ulm, Accompanied by Numerous Other Historical, Rabbinic and Literary Texts. [Italy: Second Half of the 15th Century]. Sold for $435,000.
    Manuscripts like this one are of immense value to scholars of medieval Hebrew literature due to their wide-ranging, eclectic contents. This codex in particular contains several works that have no parallels among the corpus of surviving Hebrew manuscripts, and a number of the texts here remain unpublished.

    Important Judaica on 20 December 2017 in New York
  • Karl Bodmer and Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied, Voyage dans l’Intérieur de l’Amérique du Nord Executé pendant les Années 1832, 1833, et 1834. Paris: Chez Arthus Bertrand, 1840–1843. Sold for $420,500.
    The greatest American travel narrative and the most important depiction of American Indians in the frontier era: a very early issue of only 30 copies with the best plates in contemporary hand colour.

    Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana on 13 June 2017 in New York
  • Tefillah mi-Kol ha-Shanah ke-Minhag ha-Ashkenazim, with Seder ha-Haggadah shel Pesah. Venice: Daniel Bomberg, 1519-1520. Sold for $312,500.
    The earliest extant, complete copy of a printed Western Ashkenazic daily prayer book and Haggadah.

    Important Judaica on 20 December 2017 in New York
  • The Flown Apollo 13 Flight Plan, Part No. SKB32100082-350. S/N:1001. [Houston: Manned Spacecraft Center, March 16, 1970]. Sold for $275,500.
    Signed and inscribed by Apollo 13 Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise, and signed by Apollo 13 Mission Commander James Lovell and Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, with their annotations throughout.

    Space Exploration on 20 July 2017 in New York
  • Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia… [Paris: For the Author by Philippe-Denis Pierres], 1782 [i.e. 1785]. Sold for $275,000.
    First edition, one of the earlier of just 200 copies printed for Jefferson for private distribution.

    Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana on 13 June 2017 in New York
  • Alexander Hamilton, A Previously Unrecorded Autograph Draft of Pacificus Essay No. VI. [Philadelphia, Early July 1793]. Sold for $262,500.
    In Pacificus VI, Hamilton argues that while Louis XVI and France had certainly aided the cause of American independence, the gratitude of the younger country did not compel it to accept an alliance with France contrary to her own interests – or to have to choose sides between the French revolutionaries and their former rulers. The present draft foretells very closely the essay as published.  

    Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts on 18 January 2017 in New York
  • Pentateuch with Masorah. [Tudela?: ca. 1300]. Sold for $237,500.
    A superb Sephardic biblical codex with Masoretic notes.

    Important Judaica on 20 December 2017 in New York
  • Alexander Hamilton’s Appointment as Aide-de-Camp to General George Washington. “Head-Quarters, Morristown” [New-Jersey], 1 March 1777. Sold for $212,500.
    This marks the reappearance of one of the most consequential documents in American history – the appointment that made possible the meteoric and momentous career of the most unlikely of the Founding Fathers. Without the position granted by this commission, Hamilton might never had the opportunity to fill his many other roles.

    Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts on 18 January 2017 in New York
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