NEW YORK — The Swann Galleries fall offering of Printed & Manuscript Americana was held on September 30, delivering remarkable results across the board. The auction brought $938,298, with 89% of lots finding homes, demonstrating an upward trend and strength in the category. It is the fifth straight Swann auction of Americana to have a more than 80% sell-through rate, with sale totals reaching or exceeding the high estimate.
A heavily restored first edition of the Book of Mormon brought an astounding $112,500, the most of any of the 35 sales Swann can trace at auction since 2007. Also of note from the Latter Day Saints material was an 1844 printing of George T.M. Davis’ An Authentic Account of the Massacre of Joseph Smith, which sold for $7,250, and an 1848 printing of Brigham Young’s General Epistle from the Council of the Twelve Apostles, which realized $6,250.
The most notable record was set for the iconic 1774 Boston Tea Party mezzotint, Bostonian’s Paying the Excise Man, or Tarring & Feathering, by Philip Dawe, which achieved $50,000. Additional lots relating to the American Revolution included an attractive set of 1777 watercolor copies of the famous Doolittle views of Lexington and Concord, which sold for $100,000; a letterbook of New York iron merchants pushing back against the Stamp Act, which rose to $25,000; and the diary of a Connecticut officer imprisoned by the British, which sold for $25,000.
Latin Americana included a 1646 first edition of Alonso de Ovalle’s history of Chile, which realized $15,000; the 1698 first Mexican edition of the Jesuit manual, which sold for $6,750; a 1787 publishing of Antonio Parra’s richly illustrated guide to Cuba’s maritime wildlife, which achieved $9,375; and a complete set of Juana Ines de La Cruz’s collected works published in 1689, 1693 and 1701, which sold for $50,000.
Additional highlights included a printing of General Grant’s June 1865 farewell order to his troops, which brought a record sum of $9,375; a strong group of group of early American children’s chapbooks, including a 1787 publication titled The Exhibition of Tom Thumb, which realized $4,000; the papers of 19th-century Cherokee merchant Joshua Ross, which sold for $20,000; and a bound volume of the Pennsylvania Herald, 1787–91, which included a very early printing of the United States Constitution. It realized $30,000.
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