NEW YORK – Collectors pounced on a pair of historic typewriters author Larry McMurtry used to write Lonesome Dove, selling for $37,500 at a $1.8+ million public auction of rare books held by Heritage Auctions on March 8. The novel was a genre-defining opus and reinvigorated the western literature scene. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
The Swiss-made Hermes 3000 is one of the world’s finest typewriter models and the instrument of choice for thousands of writers. It was introduced in 1958 and was noted for its simplicity and ease of maintenance. The pair on offer dated between 1963 and 1970 with pale green bodies and keys. Each had its original case and exhibited only light scuffs and handling marks. McMurtry stationed one at his home in Archer City, Texas, and the other in Washington, D.C., while writing Lonesome Dove. McMurtry still uses a Hermes 3000, writing five pages every day to avoid “the empty well.”
Lonesome Dove follows a pair of Texas Rangers on a 1,500-mile cattle drive in the Old West. The 843-page epic was an instant success, earning McMurtry the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. CBS adapted the story into a miniseries starring Robert Duvall three years later. More than 28 million people watched the miniseries, which won seven Emmys.
The auction topped out with Neal Cassady’s The Joan Anderson Letter (below) to Beat author Jack Kerouac selling for $206,250. Kerouac’s original typescript for The Dharma Bums also sold for $137,500.
Cassady typed the 18-page letter while high on speed on Dec. 17,1950. The letter had an immediate impact on Kerouac, who transformed its verve into a lasting influence on literature (Kerouac mentions the letter in Part Five of his On the Road – not to mention capturing the tone, drive and music of Cassady’s prose in that novel). The letter describes in great detail Neal’s frenzied love life in 1946, especially with Joan Anderson, the reason Cassady and Kerouac referred to the letter as The Joan Anderson Letter, as it is known to this day. The Joan Anderson Letter, believed to be lost for more than six decades, was discovered in 2012 in the archived files of the Golden Goose Press. Cassady’s The Joan Anderson Letter is in Jack Kerouac’s own words: “The greatest piece of writing I ever saw.”
A dome-top stagecoach truck that was once owned by American author Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, sold for $31,250. Clemens likely bought the truck while in St. Louis, Mo., in 1967. It was made by J. Barwick Trunk Manufacturer, St. Louis.
From the estate of crime author Mickey Spillane came a painting (below) created for his book I, the Jury. Tony Varady’s original pulp fiction cover art surpassed the estimate, selling for $13,750.
Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of The Laws of the United States of America sold for $156,250.