Mystery fiction drives rare book auction to $1.6M

Led by The Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction, Heritage Auctions’ March 6 Rare Books Auction realized $1,684,038.
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DALLAS – Led by The Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction and a copy of The Federalist Papers in its original boards, Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Auction realized $1,684,038 against $993,900 in pre-auction estimates, the department’s third consecutive sale to realize more than 160 percent of the estimated total. The sale was held March 6.

Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction

Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939. First edition, signed by the author on the front free endpaper with note, $57,500.

Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939. First edition, signed by the author on the front free endpaper with note, $57,500.

Penzler won an Edgar Award as co-author of the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, founded The Mysterious Press and owns The Mysterious Bookshop in New York [https://www.mysteriousbookshop.com/].

His collection of mystery fiction, the first 231 lots of which were offered in this sale, is considered one of the most extensive in the world.

This sale featured mostly American authors, with a focus on hard-boiled writers. The total realized for the Otto Penzler Collection was $627,213.

Among the top lots from his collection in the sale:

A rare first edition in the original first printing dust jacket of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest prompted aggressive bidding before it finished at $75,000.

The rare copy is in such exceptional condition that Penzler himself called it the world’s best copy.

Hammett’s The Dain Curse, the author’s second book and the final Continental Op novel, drew $27,500. It originally was published in four parts in Black Mask from November 1928 to February 1929.

A first edition of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, signed by the author on the front free endpaper, nearly doubled its pre-auction estimate when it brought $57,500.

The Federalist Papers in original boards, $187,500.

The Federalist Papers in original boards, $187,500.

Popularly referred to as The Federalist Papers, the auction’s top lot, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay sparked a flurry of competitive bids before closing at $187,500, topping its pre-auction estimate by 150 percent. The two-volume set is considered by American historians to be the cornerstone of the new nation’s theory of government.

Other top lots in the auction included, but were not limited to:

  • $42,500: [Frank Herbert, original novel]. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • $30,000: David Roberts. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia
  • $25,000: Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird
  • $25,000: Ludwig Bemelmans 1961 Madeline in London: A Little Sunshine, A Little Rain
  • $22,500: J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, comprising: The Fellowship of the Ring.

For more information about Heritage Auctions and its calendar of events, visit www.ha.com.

 [Frank Herbert, original novel]. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune. From Frank Herbert’s Novel. [No place, possibly Hollywood: circa 1975]. First edition, featuring concept art, designs and storyboards, photographically reproduced, for an unrealized film adaptation of Dune, produced to pitch the project to prospective financiers. Oblong folio 8.125 x 11.5 inches, $42,500

[Frank Herbert, original novel]. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune. From Frank Herbert’s Novel. [No place, possibly Hollywood: circa 1975]. First edition, featuring concept art, designs and storyboards, photographically reproduced, for an unrealized film adaptation of Dune, produced to pitch the project to prospective financiers. Oblong folio 8.125 x 11.5 inches, $42,500

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