First Look: Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana

Launch Slideshow

Our 13 June sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana covers a diverse array of subjects, including classic and modern literature, science and history, art and photography, and even fashion. Click ahead for a look at a selection of the season's highlights, including the greatest illustrated American travel narrative from the frontier era and Jane Austen’s Emma in the rare original boards.

Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana
13 June | New York

First Look: Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana

  • Walt Whitman. The Complete Writings. Including a biography of Whitman by his literary executors. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    The Author's Manuscript Edition, number 20 of 32 copies: with an original manuscript leaf in Whitman's hand comprising a portion of Leaves of Grass, an autograph draft leaf from chapter 153 ("Hours of the Soul") of Specimen Days. Any portion of Whitman’s landmark Leaves of Grass in Whitman's hand is desirable.

  • (Jane Austen). Emma: A Novel. In Three Volumes. By the Author of "Pride and Prejudice," &c. &c. London: Printed for John Murray, 1816. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    First edition. The very good Frank Hogan copy, uncut and in original boards as issued and uncommon thus.

  • Galileo Galilei and Thomas Salusbury. The Systeme of the World in Four Dialogues. [In:] Mathematical Collections and Translations... London: William Leyboun, 1661. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    First edition in English of Galileo's Dialogo, his celebrated defence of the Copernican view of the solar system: a milestone in the history of science. In 1666, the Great Fire of London swept through the city, destroying many copies of this work, which "more than any other work, made the heliocentric system a commonplace" (PMM).

  • Edmund Gilling Hallewell. [Album of watercolours of Bermuda and islands in the Caribbean, including Barbados, Tobago and St. Lucia]. [Bermuda and the Caribbean: 1842-47]. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Extraordinary album of 42 important early topographical watercolour views of Bermuda and vicinity by a noted British military officer including an important early panorama of castle harbour. These significant depictions of Bermuda during this formative period are perhaps the earliest watercolours of the island available.

  • Wassily Kandinsky. Klänge. Munich: R. Piper, [1912–13]. With 56 woodcuts by Kandinsky. Estimate $15,000–18,000.
    First edition of "one of the earliest artist's books to contain nonrepresentational art" (Rosenwald). Copy 284 of 300, signed by Kandinsky. This influential modern work is both visually appealing and textually intriguing: an admixture of colour, sound and meaning. Although it was the first illustrated book of the newly formed German Expressionist movement, it was also embraced by the Dadaists. The texts were performed at the legendary Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. It is widely considered one of the most beautiful books of the 20th century.

  • [Kelmscott Press] The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. [Edited by F. S. Ellis]. Hammersmith: William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, 1896. Estimate $40,000–50,000.
    This magnificent production "came at the end of Morris's life, when he was able to pour into a single volume all his bibliophilic passion and his unmatched skill as a designer of ornaments." Though earlier Kelmscott Press books were lavishly illustrated, the Kelmscott Press Chaucer is noteworthy for being the only book where the images and text were fully integrated. A splendid culminating effort of the Kelmscott Press, and of the Victorian rediscovery of early English literature.

  • Sir John Tenniel. Original pencil drawing. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    This original pencil drawing is the illustration which appears on page 201 of the first edition of Through the Looking Glass. Presentation inscription dated 1876 in the lower margin, but the drawing ca. 1869–71.

  • Warner Brothers. The first sound recording produced at the Warner Brothers record processing plant, recorded by Jack Warner, Al Jolson and others, with inscriptions by Warner and others incised in the blank area of the disc. "Our first record, July 13-1928." Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    In the recording, Jolson and Co. celebrate the success of The Jazz Singer and praise the upcoming The Singing Fool, which included 66 minutes of talking and singing. The disc is 78rpm and measures 15 7/8 in. in diameter. 

  • Tennessee Williams. Typescript with numerous emendations in pencil of his short story "Three Players of a Summer Game." Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    This is one of Tennessee Williams’s most important short stories, which served as the basis for his play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. 43 pages, ca. 1951–52. 

  • 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. Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    The greatest illustrated American travel narrative and the most important depiction of American Indians in the frontier era: a very rare issue of only 30 copies with the best plates in untouched contemporary hand colour and very rare thus. Bodmer's engravings of the Indians encountered on the upper Missouri are among the most iconic and celebrated images of the American West.


    Complete sets of Maximilian in any format have become very difficult to find, with many examples from the more common, uncoloured black and white issue being improved with modern colour and often broken up. Even more rare on the market are those sets like the present with the correct mix of uncoloured and coloured plates exactly as issued. The only similar set to appear at auction in the last twenty years was the Sax copy from the in 1998, though it had only 20 coloured plates. This is a unique opportunity to own a foundation Americana landmark work.

  • Thomas Hariot [and John White]. [Hariot's Virginia] Admiranda narratio fida tamen, de commodis et incolarum ritibus Virginiae ... Frankfurt: Typis Johannis Wecheli, Sumtibus vero Johannis-Theodori de Bry, '1590' [but circa 1608]. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    A foundation work on the early exploration and delineation of America and an important first hand account of the abortive Roanoke colony, the first settlement attempt by the British in the New World. It is the first description of the Virginia and Carolina country.  The map which accompanies the volume is the first considerably accurate map of the Virginia coast and Carolina capes, showing the coast from the mouth of the Chesapeake to Wilmington, North Carolina. John White's illustrations are among the most famous of early American images. No other artist so carefully rendered American Indians until Karl Bodmer worked on the Missouri in the 1830s.

  • Thomas Jefferson. Notes on the State of Virginia; written in the year 1781, somewhat corrected and enlarged in the winter of 1782, for the use of a foreigner of distinction, in answer to certain queries proposed by him. [Paris: for the author by Philippe-Denis Pierres,] 1782 [i.e., 1785]. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    First edition; one of the earlier of just 200 copies printed for Jefferson for private distribution. This copy was likely given by Jefferson to Virginia lawyer and patriot John Banister, who was closely associated with Jefferson before and during the Revolution. Banister served in the Virginia House of Burgesses with Jefferson prior to the Revolution, and was a lieutenant colonel of Virginia militia while Jefferson was governor of the state. He died in 1788. Jefferson specially marked this copy in several ways. On page five he drew a line through the phrase "above the mouth of Appomattox," which he did in many other copies. At the bottom of page 225, Jefferson wrote a note commenting on his musings on government. This has been excised, but a few words, "If the …," remain in Jefferson's distinctive hand, demonstrating the annotation was by him, and suggesting he intended this copy for presentation.

  • Jacques Le Moyne and Theodor de Bry. Brevis Narratio eorum quae in florida Americae provi[n]cia Gallis acciderunt ... quae est seconda pars Americae. Frankfurt: Theodor De Bry, 1591. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    A seminal illustrated work for early North America, this is one of the best visual records of American Indians before the 19th century and contains a landmark early map of Florida. Le Moyne's extraordinary illustrations of the Florida Indians, which appear on forty-two leaves of this work in their first published form, rank with those of John White as early depictions of Native Americans. They show all aspects of Indian life, including settlements, ceremonies, wars, agriculture, hunting and preparation of food. They also show scenes of the French settlement and their involvement with the Indians. These images were widely copied for centuries, and many later supposedly original illustrations of American Indians are actually copies of Le Moyne's illustrations.

  • George Washington. Letter signed ("Go: Washington") to Michel-Guillaume St. Jean de Crèvecoeur, Mount Vernon, 10 April 1789. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    In this letter, Washington acknowledges and accepts the necessity of his having to assume the office of president of the United States, despite his own ambivalent feelings, and remarks on the effects that the American Revolution has had throughout Europe. "If, by any exertion, or services of mine, my Country can be benefitted, I shall feel more amply compensated for the sacrifices which I make, than I possibly could be by any other means."


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