20th C. classic books are page-turners at April 26 Potter & Potter sale
CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions will hold a 239-lot Fine Literature and Modern Firsts sale on Tuesday, April 26 starting at 10 am Central time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Likely top lots include a presentation copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, estimated at $30,000-$50,000. It was published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1925 and is inscribed, “With the Pleasant memories of La Paix behind me alas and alack! Souvenir of 1932–1933 for M.T. from her – at least from one who was almost made to feel like – a guest. F. Scott Fitzgerald.”
The inscription is to Margaret Turnbull, who owned La Paix, an estate with a large house near Towson, Maryland. The Fitzgeralds rented La Paix in 1932 and 1933 because of its proximity to Johns Hopkins, where Zelda Fitzgerald was being treated.
Another standout presentation copy on offer is Robert Frost’s North of Boston, published in 1914 and estimated at $10,000-$15,000. This example of Frost’s second book is a first edition, first issue, binding A (one of 350 copies), is inscribed “for Gordon Chalmers,” and includes the poem Spring Pools in its entirety. Chalmers, President of Kenyon College, and his wife were friends of the author. Nearly all of the books inscribed by Frost to Chalmers are presentation copies and are virtually unobtainable, with the last selling in 2002. This copy last traded hands at Christie’s on October 6, 1994.
A first edition, first issue copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms carries an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. This copy includes its original first issue dust jacket, and is inscribed to a Chicago News reporter who covered the Civil War in Spain: “To Edgar A. Mowrer / with sincere admiration / Ernest Hemingway.” Mowrer helped Hemingway raise money for emergency medical care in Marseilles. The two maintained correspondence for more than a decade.
Lot #221, a copy of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol, is estimated at $7,000-$10,000. This limited edition copy, number 16 of 99, is signed by Wilde. The book was published anonymously in 1898, using the name “C.3.3.,” Wilde’s number at Reading prison, where he was jailed after being convicted of homosexual offenses in 1895. Wilde was fearful of the negative associations with his name, but word leaked about the identity of the author. The book immediately became a commercial success and one of Wilde’s most recognized publications.
Inscribed first edition books from the postwar era in the April 26 auction include a copy of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, estimated at $3,000-$5,000. It was published in 1950 by Gnome Press in New York. This first edition presentation copy of Asimov’s second book is inscribed, “For Edith Ogutsch / The name will be changed / for the better after marriage. / For the worse, it couldn’t be. / But I love you. / 12/3/1950 / Isaac Asimov”. Ogutsch was a poet and science fiction and fantasy author.
A second science fiction classic in the sale lineup is a first edition of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, estimated at $3,000-$5,000. This copy is from the library of Frederick C. Durant III, a leading figure in the pantheon of space pioneers. He was heavily involved in rocketry in the United States during the period between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s. The book is inscribed, “To Pip & Fred – / with love / Arthur / Chevy Chase / 24 Oct. ‘77”.
A first edition inscribed copy of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces has an estimate of $3,000-$5,000. Published in Baton Rouge and London by the Louisiana State University Press in 1980, it is one of 2,500 copies and includes the first edition dust jacket with a review by Walker Percy. It is inscribed by the author’s mother: “Nov. 2, 1980 / Appreciation and regards from John Kennedy Toole’s mother / Thelma Ducoing Toole / to / Caroline Frances Baker.”.Toole sent his manuscript to every publisher in America, every one of which turned it down. After the final rejection, Toole committed suicide at the age of 32. His mother gave the manuscript to author Walker Percy, who secured its publication, and it was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.
The selection of letters, documents and other literature-themed ephemera in the auction is led by a typed 1965 document signed by Truman Capote for the motion picture rights to the novel In Cold Blood. Its estimate is $4,000-$6,000. Dated November 9, 1965, it is two pages long and details the agreement between Columbia Pictures Corporation and Capote in regard to acquiring the motion picture and certain allied rights for the soon-to-be published novel. The film was released in 1967 and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay.
A letter signed by James Joyce to Madame Yasushi Tanaka (Louise Gebhard Cann) carries an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. The one-page note is dated November 29, 1920 and is Joyce’s response to a request from Cann – a prominent writer and art critic in early 20th century France – that she be sent materials for an article. He directs her to an acquaintance who will have more, adding at the end, “ … I am sure he will let you have the copy of The Egoist (15 January 1913) which I lent him some time ago. It contains the whole story of The Dubliners. Sincerely yours, James Joyce.”
First editions from legacy 20th-century authors include Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, estimated at $7,000-$9,000. This extremely rare first edition, first issue copy from 1919 has its original printed dust jacket. This publication is considered Anderson’s most desirable work, being a collection of 22 short stories set in Winesburg, Ohio.
The final highlight, a 1930 first edition copy of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, is estimated at $8,000-$12,000. It retains its original first issue dust jacket with the summary printed on the front flap and a custom cloth folding box by Dragonfly Bindery. The Maltese Falcon is considered by many as Hammett’s best work, and was voted No. 2 of The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time by the Mystery Writers of America.
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