CHICAGO – Potter and Potter‘s 620-lot Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana sale, held on February 26, was a best seller in all regards, with classics by Mark Twain and Arthur Conan Doyle performing markedly well.
Earning top lot status was Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allan’s memoir, which boasts the long-winded title A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen’s Captivity from the Time of his Being Taken by the British, near Montreal, on the 25th day of September, in the Year 1775, to the Time of his Exchange, on the 6th day of May 1778: Containing his Voyages and Travels Interspersed with Some Practical Observations. Written by Himself, and now Published for the Information of the Curious in all Nations. Estimated at $40,000-$60,000, it achieved $78,000. This second edition from 1779 has the distinction of being the only copy offered at auction since 1909.
Richard Hakluyt’s The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, made by Sea or over-land, to the remote and farthest distant quarters of the Earth, at any time within the compasse of these 1500 yeeres almost doubled its low estimate to sell for $48,000. This three-volume, second (first enlarged) edition was printed in London in 1599 and counted Charles Maynard, the 1st Viscount Maynard, in its provenance.
Alexis de Tocqueville’s De la Democratie en Amerique realized $33,600 on its $30,000-$40,000 estimate. This four-volume set was printed in Paris by Bourgogne and Martinet between 1835-1840 for Charles Gosselin.
Thomas Gamaliel Bradford’s An Illustrated Atlas, Geographical, Statistical and Historical of the United States and the Adjacent Countries was estimated at $8,000-$12,000 and made $21,600. This first large edition from 1838 included 39 copper engraved maps, among them several city plans and a double-page map of the USA by G.W. Boynton.
Tales of a Thousand and One Nights; [or], The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments was estimated at $7,000-$9,000 and made $26,400. This set was translated by Edward William Lane and considered to be the standard and comprehensive English translation of this work in its original monthly parts. The set included the Part X supplement that is missing in the only other known set, held at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City.
Several editions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles caught the eyes of bibliophiles worldwide. All were published in New York by Grosset & Dunlap and retained their original dust jackets. Lot #495, a copy published around 1912 or earlier, was estimated at $400-$600 and made $6,600; lot #494, a copy from around 1902 or 1903, was estimated at $600-$800 and sold for $3,840; and lot #496, a copy published in 1915, beat its low estimate by a multiple of six to realize $3,600.
Items with ties to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commanded attention and high bids. These were led by a May 1965 edition of Ebony magazine signed by King, which was estimated at $3,000-$4,000 and sold for $13,200. It was inscribed “My Friend / Claude Wyatt / With Warm Personal Regards / Martin Luther King Jr.” and came from the estate of Addie and Claude Wyatt, Jr.
Also of note was a first edition inscribed copy of King’s Strength to Love. Estimated at $2,000-$3,000, it realized $12,000. Published in New York by Harper & Row in 1963, this book contained a collection of sermons delivered by Dr. King ahead of the Birmingham Campaign, and was composed and edited mainly during the two weeks King spent in an Albany jail for holding a prayer vigil outside of Albany City Hall.
A third King-related lot was a first edition inscribed copy of Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, which was estimated at $2,000-$3,000 and sold for $13,200. King wrote this book in isolation in the Caribbean during the early months of 1967. It was the final book published in his lifetime and the first in which he addressed the issues of income inequality and equity in education.
Maps, ephemera, catalogs and other collectible first editions also inspired bidders. A folio containing materials related to the Treaty of Ghent, estimated at $4,000-$6,000, delivered $38,400. This first edition set of maps denoted the boundaries between the United States and Great Britain in the Great Lakes region after the War of 1812 according to the 6th and 7th articles of the Treaty of Ghent.
A first American edition, early state copy of Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ (aka Mark Twain’s) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn realized $21,600 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. This near-pristine example was printed in 1885 in New York by the Charles L. Webster and Company.
Another notably strong performer was an illustrated Louis Vuitton catalog from 1887. Estimated at $400-$600, it sold for $7,200. Its opposing pages were in French and English. Potter & Potter experts were not able to identify any other institutionally held copies of the catalog.
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