Strong results at Swann Galleries’ Auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana, Nov. 18

Rare printings and archives of papers relating to important historical figures sparked bidders’ interest at Swann Galleries’ auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana on Nov. 18, 2008.

Rick Stattler, Swann’s Americana Specialist, said, “Our sale was very successful, with solid prices and an 87 percent sell-through rate. Despite a jittery economy, several exceptional prices were realized, and at least three records were set.”

Those record setters included René Goulaine de Laudonnière’s scarce history of Florida, L’Histoire Notable de la Floride Situee es Indes Occidentales, first edition, 1586, which brought $40,800, including buyer’s premium. This is among the highest prices ever paid at auction for an unillustrated book devoted to Florida, surpassed only by early editions of Hernando de Soto’s narrative. All prices listed include 20 percent buyer’s premium.

A 1746 Franklin printing of George Whitefield’s Five Sermons on the Following Subjects, first edition, Philadelphia, 1746, set an American auction record for a Whitefield book at $4,080. And, an 1818 printing of Discourse, Delivered at the Consecration of the Synagogue of [K.K. Shearith Israel] in the City of New-York, set a record for a book by early American Jewish leader Mordechai Noah at $3,360.

Among the most unusual items in the auction were examples of Judaica from the Mexican Inquisition: a pair of late 16th-century manuscript dossiers prosecuting Jews, won by the same buyer for a total of $42,000.

Several lots of material related to the Barlow family of New York were acquired by well-known research libraries. In particular, composer and diplomat Samuel Barlow’s extensive correspondence and diaries, mostly 1925-64, sold to Harvard’s Houghton Library for $55,200. The Karpeles Manuscript Library obtained an early manuscript map of Santa Barbara, Calif., circa 1782, for $13,200.

Other auction highlights went to private collectors, including a first edition of the Book of Mormon for $75,000, and the papers of Civil War Union General Daniel Sickles for $10,200.

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