Rare Judaica, fine books at Swann, April 2

NEW YORK—Coinciding with the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, Swann Galleries’ April 2 auction of Fine Books offers a choice selection of works in many fields, among them Early Printing, Judaica, Literature, and Art and Illustrated Books, as well as a section of Works on Cards & the Occult from the collection of Stuart R. Kaplan, founder of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., a leading publisher of tarot decks and card games.

Among the earliest items in the sale is Oratio Manassae,  a near-miniature illuminated manuscript on vellum, in Greek, Latin and French, France, mid-16th century (estimate: $8,000-$12,000).

Early printed highlights include significant Judaic works. Among these are the original edition in Spanish of Mikveh Yisrael, Manasseh Ben Israel’s treatise on the fate of the 10 lost tribes, published in Amsterdam, 1650 (estimate: $8,000-$12,000), and the first edition in English, entitled The Hope of Israel, published the same year in London (estimate: $20,000-$25,000).

The sale contains desirable early and modern haggadot, including Seder Haggadot shel Pesah, the first Italian illustrated example and the only book in Hebrew printed entirely from woodblocks, Mantua, 1560 (estimate $40,000-$50,000); Seder Haggadah shel Pesah ke-Minhag Ashkenaz u-Sefarad, Amsterdam, 1695, the first printed haggadah with engravings rather than woodcut illustrations  (estimate $15,000-$25,000); and the “Szyk Haggadah,” the most celebrated modern illustrated haggadah, elaborately designed by Arthur Szyk, one of 125 copies on vellum, signed by Szyk and editor Cecil Roth, in the original gilt-pictorial blue morocco binding by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, London, 1939, (estimate $15,000-$25,000).

Also featured is another of the most important fine press books produced in the 20th century: the Golden Cockerel Press Four Gospels, illustrated by Eric Gill, one of only twelve printed on vellum, bound in white pigskin by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, Waltham Saint Lawrence, 1931 (estimate $40,000-$50,000).

There are many fine illustrated books, notably a handsome set of David Roberts’s The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia, first edition in book form in the issue with hand-colored proofs before letters, 6 volumes in the original bindings, London, 1842-49 (estimate $80,000-$120,000).

Collectors of animal illustrations will be drawn to Henriette Ronner’s Cats and Kittens: A Series of Plates from the Works, one of only 18 privately printed copies, 1893; and by an original ink drawing of a ewe and her lamb encountering a duckling, signed and dated by Beatrix Potter on her 58th birthday, 1924 (estimate $12,000-$18,000).

Featured manuscript material related to literary figures includes a Hugh Lofting archive with an original manuscript, artwork and typed and signed letters from the creator of Doctor Dolittle, mostly 1930s-’40s (estimate $8,000-$12,000); and a three-page Autograph Letter Signed from F. Scott Fitzgerald in response to a fan letter, New York, circa December 1920 (estimate $10,000-$15,000). This newly discovered and unpublished letter discusses his first two novels and mentions people and events that influenced him. Along with the letter is a signed and annotated photograph of the author’s cousin—the inspiration for the main female character in This Side of Paradise.

The selection of modern first editions includes a fine copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, one of 492 copies of the first signed limited edition, New York and London, 1929 (estimate $6,000-$9,000); and a signed first American edition of C.S. Forester’s The African Queen, Boston, 1935, in dust jacket (estimate $5,000-$7,000).

Among modern American press books are the Arion Press Moby-Dick, illustrated by Barry Moser, one of 250 copies, San Francisco, 1979 (estimate $6,000-$9,000); and the Gehenna Press Capriccio, with poems by Ted Hughes and illustrations by Leonard Baskin, signed by both, and with two additional color proofs, one of them signed and inscribed by Baskin to art book collector Mel Ritter, Northampton, 1990 (estimate $6,000-$9,000).

The auction will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 2.

For further information, visit www.swanngalleries.com.

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