Image Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
Revolutionary Americana & Historic Mormon Materials Dominate
Swann Galleries’ November Printed & Manuscript Auction
Revolutionary Americana & Historic Mormon Materials Dominate Swann Galleries’ November Printed & Manuscript Auction New York–Swann Galleries’ November 17 sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana brought more than $770,000, exceeding the high estimate for the sale. The top lot was an 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon, which sold to a private collector for $67,500*. This was more than the last 17 copies on the auction market, going back to a 2008 sale at Swann where it sold for $75,000. Swann holds the record for this rare true first edition, set in 2007 at $180,000. What makes this edition unusual is that it is the only one to list Joseph Smith as the “author and proprietor” rather than the translator.
Lot 22 Manuscript orderly book of Captain John Schenck, detailing New York's defenses in the first year of the Revolution, including passwords and countersigns, 1776. Sold November 17, 2016 for $40,000. (Pre-sale estimate: $6,000 to $9,000)
Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
Lot 25 oseph Smith, The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold November 17, 2016 for $67,500. (Pre-sale estimate: $40,000 to $60,000)
Mormon-related documents continue to perform well, with the diary of a Methodist preacher named Benajah Williams, in which he describes a meeting that may have inspired Smith’s first vision, selling for $13,750. Additional Mormon highlights included a published response by Joseph Smith to a letter from J.A. Bennett, 1844, which sold for $6,750, and a letter by Wilford Woodruff describing the Mormon settlement and the development of Utah, 1877, which reached $25,000.
Sale prices for Revolutionary War material were even stronger than usual, with several lots going many times above their high estimates. Notably, a newspaper printing of Thomas Paine's 1777 American Crisis brought $37,500, while notes taken during the 1782 Continental Congress by member Arthur Middleton, which include the first reference to Vermont’s statehood, sold for $55,000.
Works from the Timothy Treacy collection of historic Californiana performed well in the sale, selling over 90% of the 35 lots offered and setting numerous auction records. An inscribed first edition of Clarence King's Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, 1872, brought $8,750, a record for the author. Another record was $2,750 for a first edition of Charles F. McGlashan's History of the Donner Party, 1879. A portfolio of photographs of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range from the 1930s by Clinton C. Clarke sold for $9,375, over six times the high estimate, while a first edition of Thomas J. Farnham’s Travels in the Californias, and Scenes of the Pacific Ocean, 1844, doubled its estimate to sell for $8,125.
Another record was set by a rare 1796 illustrated Bible, published in Philadelphia by Berriman & Co., which sold for $1,500. Institutions did very well at the sale. Most notably, the Society of the Cincinnati won a 1776 orderly book detailing the defenses of New York; the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina bid successfully on an important 1782 Henry Laurens letter; the Massachusetts Historical Society won an anti-abolition broadside by George Francis Train, 1862; the New-York Historical Society won three lots including a group of Holland Tunnel blueprints; and the Connecticut River Museum acquired a diary by river pilot John Ingraham. Book Department Director and Americana Specialist Rick Stattler said, "Prices remained strong, particularly for Revolutionary War material, reflecting a busy week—we had a large crowd waiting at our door when the preview opened. Private collectors were very active in the sale, picking up four of the top ten lots."
The next sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Galleries will be held in April, 2017. For more information, or to consign materials, contact specialist Rick Stattler at email@example.com or via phone (212) 254-4710, ext. 27.
PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF SALE 2432, November 17, 2016:
PRINTED & MANUSCRIPT AMERICANA
Sale total: $772,910 with Buyer’s Premium
Hammer total: $616,700
Estimates for sale as a whole: $501,150-744,300
We offered 374 lots; 325 sold (87% sell-through rate by lot)
Top lots Prices with buyer’s premium
225 Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. $67,500 C
35 Arthur Middleton, manuscript notes from Congress on Vermont statehood, Philadelphia, March to May 1782. $55,000 C
22 Capt. John Schenck, manuscript orderly book detailing New York’s defenses, February to April, 1776. $40,000 I
25 Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, as printed in the Boston Gazette, January 13, 1777. $37,500 D
234 Wilford Woodruff, letter describing the Mormon settlement and development of Utah, November 22, 1877. $25,000 D
178 Isaac N. Cardozo, A Discourse Delivered in Charleston…Promoting True Principles of Judaism, SC, 1827. $13,730 D
189 Alexander Hamilton et al, The Federalist, on the New Constitution, second American edition, New York, 1802. $13,730 C
226 Benajah Williams, diary describing a meeting that may have inspired Joseph Smith’s first vision, 1818-62. $13,750 D
168 Benjamin Franklin, Political, Miscellaneous and Philosophical Pieces, first collected edition, London, 1779. $10,000 C
63 Clinton C. Clarke, portfolio of photographs of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, circa 1930s. $9,375 D
74* Clarence King, Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, first edition, first issue, Boston, 1872. $8,750 C
66 Thomas J. Farnham, Travels in the Californias, first edition, New York, 1844. $8,125 D
188 Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America, first session, first octavo edition, New York, 1789. $7,500 C
351 Volume of Inquisition edicts regarding confessions, Mexico, eighteenth century. $7,020 I
39 Supplement to the Pennsylvania Packet, first printing of preliminary peace treaties with Britain, April 9, 1783. $7,000 D
258 Archive of New York bridge construction and maintenance, mostly 1886-1940. $7,000 D
233 Joseph Smith, reply to letter from J.A. B--, Liverpool, 1844. $6,750 D
87 Edward Vischer, Views of California, portfolio with 24 lithographs, San Francisco, 1862. $6,500 D
246 George A. Calhoun, illustrated log of the USS Narragansett’s Pacific cruise, 1871-72. $6,500 D
238 Group of letters and documents relating to the Mormons and Utah, 1836-92. $6,500 C
KEY: * = Auction Record; C = Collector; D = Dealer; I = Institution Complete Auction Results