CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions will present Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana, a sale of more than 600 lots, on Saturday, February 26 starting at 10 am Central time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
A likely top lot is Ethan Allen’s (American, 1738–1789) book, which bears the lengthy 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. It is estimated at $40,000-$60,000. It is bound in full red morocco and detailed with scrollwork cornerpieces; gilt borders, dentelles, and edges; a gilt–lettered spine; marbled endpapers; and a gilt stamp, signed by W. Pratt. This museum-quality second edition has the distinction of being the only copy offered at auction since 1909, when it traded hands at Henkel’s Clarence H. Clark sale on November 30, 1909 – 113 years ago.
Another impressive antique lot is Tales of a Thousand and One Nights; [or], The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, estimated at $7,000-$9,000. Translated by Edward William Lane (British, 1801–1876), the set is considered to be the standard and comprehensive English translation of this work in its original monthly parts. The work is illustrated with woodcuts by English artists after original designs by William Harvey and retains its original publisher’s printed pictorial wrappers; cloth chemise; and morocco–backed slipcases.
Equally worthy is a copy of John Milton’s (British, 1608–1674) The Poetical Works of…with a Life of the Author by William Hayley, estimated at $5,000-$7,000. Each volume is bound in red morocco and is decorated with double raised bands; gilt tooling and lettering; gilt edges and dentelles; and marbled endpapers. The trio is copiously illustrated and includes portraits of Milton by W.N. Gardner after Cornelius Jansen and after Vertue; an engraved portrait of Milton and his daughters by Benjamin Smith after George Romney; 28 copper-engraved plates after R. Westall; proofs before all letters of all of Henri Fuseli’s engravings of Paradise Lost; and 13 extremely rare engravings after Stothard by Bartolozzi.
First editions on offer include an early state copy of Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ (aka Mark Twain, American, 1835–1910) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, estimated at $10,000-$15,000. It is bound in its original publisher’s green gilt–decorated pictorial cloth and presented in a custom aniline folding box, embossed with a silhouette of Huck Finn. This example has provenance to Henry A. Hall as noted in a neat signature dated 1885 on its front free endpaper. It retains its original glossy finish and gilt and has no wear to its inner hinges. Potter & Potter experts state this is the finest well-preserved copy on the market, without the usual faults seen with this title.
Another standout is Gaius Julius Caesar’s (100–44 BCE) The Commentaries of Caesar, Translated into English. To Which is Prefixed a Discourse Concerning the Roman Art of War. It carries an estimate of $6,000-$8,000. This example was translated by William Duncan and includes a dedication to the Prince of Wales. It is illustrated with 86 engraved plates, including the famed double-page “Bull” Plate (“The Ursus or Buffalo”), which is often lacking.
Limited edition publications in the sale lineup include a presentation copy of Aleister Crowley’s (British, 1875–1947) Konx Om Pax. Essays in Light, estimated at $5,000-$7,000. It was published in London and Felling-on-Tyne in 1907 by the Walter Scott Publishing Co. in an edition size of 500. The example on offer is number 130, and it is printed on handmade paper, bound in the original publisher’s gilt-decorated cream buckram, and personally inscribed by Crowley to an unknown recipient. Crowley was a noted author, poet and magician, who founded Thelema, a religious and spiritual philosophy based on esoteric and occult beliefs.
Guaranteed to stir interest is The History of Reynard the Foxe, translated by William Caxton and estimated at $5,000-$6,000. It was edited by Henry Halliday Sparling and printed in Hammersmith by Kelmscott Press in 1892. It is one of 300 copies on Flower paper from a total edition of 310 copies published by William Morris. It features Troy type in red and black and has a woodcut title page and a facing page with a full woodcut page border, eight line and smaller initials, and numerous partial borders. It retains its original limp vellum, yapp edges, gilt-lettered spine, silk ties and slipcase.
Rounding out the highlights is Vincenzo Coronelli’s (Italian, 1650–1718) engraved map from 1695, estimated at $7,000-$9,000. It is one of the earliest and most important maps of the Great Lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi. Drawing upon the reports of the fur-traders and the Jesuit missionaries, Coronelli’s map shows the northern part of the French trans-Appalachian territory of Louisiana and a remarkably accurate outline of the Great Lakes. According to Goss, this is considered “the best separate map of the five lakes published during the seventeenth century.”
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