PHILADELPHIA — Freeman’s is pleased to announce the results of its September 23 auction, a 140-lot sale that achieved a 95% sell-through rate and underscores Freeman’s strength in presenting material across a wide range of disciplines and time periods.
The auction saw strong results for documents of American history from the Revolutionary War to the 1960s counterculture. “American history is in our wheelhouse, and today was further evidence of that,” says Darren Winston, Head of the Books and Manuscripts department. “We had some very strong results and happy consignors — ultimately, great material sells itself.”
Following a record-breaking $4.42M sale of a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence in July, Freeman’s Books and Manuscripts specialists continue to confirm their place as premier presenters of 18th-century American material. Lot 16, a second edition of The American Atlas, widely considered the most important 18th-century atlas of America, sparked a lively bidding war between buyers and achieved $69,300.
A very rare New Haven printing of the first acts of the first congress of the United States, printed ca. 1789, sold for $22,680, and Printed Privateers Bond Form, a rare printing from Benjamin Franklin’s official printing press in Passy, France, achieved $11,970, more than doubling its pre-sale high estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
The September 23 sale underscored the enduring market appeal of fine examples of classic literature, leading with a handsome first and limited edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which achieved $27,720. A first American edition of Herman Melville’s masterpiece Moby-Dick; or, the Whale likewise garnered significant buyer enthusiasm, selling for $16,380.
Posters performed particularly well, led by a group of 43 screenprints, Berkeley Political Poster Workshop Portfolio, a collection that sold for $13,860, far surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $6,000-$9,000. Countercultural material sparked significant interest across the board — a group of primarily music-related counterculture posters achieved $2,520 after competitive bidding.
Two posters by Alphonse Mucha from the turn of the 20th century exceeded their estimates: both Eveil du Matin, which sold for $6,300 against an estimate of $2,000-$3,000, and Flirt, Biscuits Lefèvre-Utile, which achieved $8,190 against an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.
World War II material also had a strong showing, including a group of 75 WWII posters that nearly doubled its pre-sale high estimate of $2,000-$3,000 to sell for $5,985.
A signed United States loan-office certificate from 1800 sold for $32,760 after an extensive bidding war, exceeding its pre-sale high estimate of $500-$800 by a remarkable forty times.
A signed autograph letter by Mark Twain — marking a unique moment in history, at the onset of the Civil War and before Samuel Clemens took on the nom de plume of Mark Twain — achieved $21,420.
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