NEW YORK — Swann Galleries’ third iteration of Focus on Women, an auction dedicated to the contributions of women to art, life and society, brought $361,090. That total exceeds the estimate for the June 1 auction, with archives and literature among the leading items of the sale. Absentee and Internet live bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.
The sale was led by a family archive of photographs and letters of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which included 45 photos of Gilman and a typed draft of the comedic play A Pretty Idiot, which was written by Gilman and Grace Ellery Channing. The lot brought $60,000 against an estimate of $700-$900. Also related to Gilman was a family association set of The Forerunner, a complete run of seven volumes published from 1909 to 1916, which earned $22,500.
Further archives of note included those once belonging to Fanny Stevenson, which documented her travels in the American West and Vailima in Samoa, which realized $25,000; artist Mary Beth Edelson with an archive of working files and correspondence, which brought $7,000; and travel diaries and photo albums from Loretta Belle Tulian Eaton, which went for $5,250.
Top-selling literature included a first edition of Sojourner Truth’s Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave, published in Boston in 1850, which achieved $20,000; Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, published in London in 1817, which attained $13,750; a first edition of Compendio de la Vida, y virtudes de la venerable Catharina de San Juan, published in Puebla, Mexico in 1692, which tells the story of Catarina de San Juan and sold for $11,250; and a first trade edition of Helena Bochorakova-Dittrichova’s Z Meho Detstvi Drevoryt, published in Prague in 1929. It holds the distinction of being the first graphic novel ever published by a woman. The example in the June 1 auction sold for $7,500.
Religious texts were on offer in the form of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Woman’s Bible, a New York 1898 edition signed and inscribed by Stanton, which earned $13,750, and also the Bible translated by Julia Evelina Smith into English; Smith was the first woman to accomplish this feat, and this copy realized $4,750. Also of note was Louisa May Alcott’s autograph script for a performance of Mrs. Jarleys Waxworks, dated circa 1867 to 1879 and sold for $4,750.
Additional highlights included works by Cindy Sherman and Flor Garduno, ephemera related to Seneca Falls, Ohio Womens’ Rights Conventions, and the women’s suffrage movement, and a hotel register related to woman baseball players.
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