Signed first editions by Fitzgerald and Hemingway bring top prices at Swann auction of modern literature

Swann Galleries’ auction of Modern Literature: Featuring Americans in Paris and After on Oct. 16 saw strong prices for signed and inscribed books by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, and other American expatriate writers who went to Paris in the 1920s and ‘30s. Also bringing top dollar were two annotated manuscripts of works by Saul Bellow.

Christine von der Linn, Swann Galleries Modern Literature Specialist, said, “It was great to see active bidding lead to top prices for Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Bellow. Items by the women of the Left Bank, including Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, and Sylvia Beach also did well.”

The auction’s top lot, Fitzgerald’s short story collection, All the Sad Young Men, New York, 1926, signed and inscribed in the year of publication, brought $22,800. All prices include 20% buyer’s premium.

A large selection of works by Hemingway included a lovely copy of Death in the Afternoon, signed in the month of publication, New York, 1932, which realized $14,400. A copy of the first illustrated edition of The Old Man and the Sea, signed and inscribed to Hemingway’s boxing coach George Brown, New York, 1952, and A Farewell to Arms, first trade edition, first issue, New York, 1929, each sold for $5,040.

Autograph material related to Hemingway included an Autograph Letter Signed to Arnold Gingrich, editor of Esquire magazine, discussing business, life in Havana, fishing and other matters, Havana, 24 May 1933, $4,560; an Autograph Note Signed “Ernie,” sending holiday wishes to his sister Marcelline, Havana, 1940, $2,160; and a Photograph of the author holding his fluffy little cat Blackie, Signed and Inscribed to his lawyer Alfred Rice, 31 March 1950, $7,200.

The second part of the sale offered works by authors who were not part of the Paris expatriate group. Of special interest were two manuscripts pertaining to works by Saul Bellow. The edited uncorrected galleys for the magazine appearance of Humbolt’s Gift, with a signed note specifying that this was not the final version of the work and would not be published again, January 1974, brought $8,400. A heavily annotated 32-page manuscript of A Silver Dish, New York, 1979, together with a first limited edition of the book, which was Bellow’s first piece of fiction to be published after he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, realized $11,400. The same buyer acquired a 61-page handwritten draft of Bellow’s 1976 Nobel lecture at Swann on September 25 for $16,800.

Rounding out the General Modern Literature section were T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, second edition, New York, 1922, $5,520; Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt, first trade edition, first issue, New York, 1922, $3,600; Raymond Chandler’s first book, The Big Sleep, first edition New York, 1939, $4,800; and J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories, fine first edition, Boston, 1953, $3,840

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalog with prices realized is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.

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