Potter & Potter’s Aug 28 book auction spans Melville to Rowling
CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions will hold a 600-plus lot Fine Books & Manuscripts on August 28, starting at 10 am Central time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Century-spanning antique books hold several of the top lot slots at this signature sales event, led by William Jardine and Prideaux J. Selby’s four volume Illustrations of Ornithology, estimated at $12,000-$15,000. This first edition was published in Edinburgh by W. H. Lizars and is rarely seen complete with the fourth volume. This work was published to compliment Selby’s Illustrations of British Ornithology and in response to the lack of works on non–European avifauna.
Another strong lot is an 1851 first American edition, first binding of Herman Melville’s Moby–Dick; or, The Whale, estimated at $50,000-$60,000. It includes its original publisher’s cloth blind stamped with the publisher’s circular device at its center, endpapers, and flyleaves.
The auction also includes remarkable selections of early and original maps and atlases, such as George H.V. Collot’s A General Map of the River Ohio, made of four engraved plates by Tardieu and estimated at $9,000-$12,000. This copy, being one of 100 printed in English, was published in Paris in 1804 but issued in 1826. This map was compiled by Collot for his Voyage dans l’Amerique Septentrionale – one of the most important and exceedingly rare American cartographic works of the 18th century – and is considered the finest period map of the upper Ohio River.
Also worthy is Samuel A. Mitchell’s A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics of the World with a special Map of each of the United States, estimated at $3,800-$4,200. This folio was published in Philadelphia by Charles De Silver in 1857 and contains several maps not found in other editions, including one which shows Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico and Indian territories.
Also on offer are museum quality selections of important documents with ties to some of the most recognizable personalities of the last two centuries, among them a one page, typed signed letter from Nikola Tesla to Hereward Carrington, estimated at $1,500-$2,500. In this note from 1980, Tesla responds to a well-known investigator of psychic phenomena agreeing that “the subject is most interesting.” During the height of this spiritualism craze of the 1900s, Tesla was experimenting with wireless power as a way to transmit worldwide communications.
A second strong Herman Melville piece on offer is an 1872 autographed signed letter from the author to Miss Coffin, estimated at $8,000-$10,000. In this one page note, with possible ties to the story behind Moby–Dick; or, The Whale, Melville writes: “So long a time has elapsed that I cannot recall where I got the facts alluded to in your note of the 9th inst. Neither – I am so sorry to say – can I direct you where to get information additional to what you may now possess.” The Coffins were a prominent Nantucket whaling family.
Fine art is also well-represented in this late summer event by a 1957 painting of the USS Bear in Neny Fjord, Antarctica, by Leland Curtis, estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Curtis was the official artist of the US Antarctic Expeditions of 1939-40 and 1955-57. Leading the sculpture selections is Blendon Campbell’s bronze standing figure of President Lincoln as a rail splitter, estimated at $4,000-$5,000.
Additional eye-catching highlights include portfolios and albums of important drawings and photos. Prominent among the choices is an album of 224 albumen silver prints of scenery along the Santa Fe Route Railways by William H. Jackson, estimated at $10,000-$15,000. Jackson was considered to be one of the most important Western American landscape photographers of any century. This example is one of a number of copies made for the director of the Santa Fe Railroad around 1875.
Equally compelling is a portfolio of prints by Rockwell Kent, estimated at $20,000-$30,000. This collection is housed in its original cloth backed portfolio and includes three leaves of text and 28 original plates on Japanese shogun paper, with each plate signed in pencil by Kent. This example is number 7 of 30 copies produced, of which 20 copies were offered for sale.
Rounding out the highlights are modern editions and other category-bridging ephemera, such as a newsstand copy of Volume 1, Number 1 of Playboy magazine, estimated at $2,000-$3,000, and a paperback copy of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, estimated at $6,000-$8,000. It was published in 1997 in London by Bloomsbury and includes its original publisher’s pictorial wrappers. This first English paperback edition of the rare first Harry Potter book was published on the same day as the hardback issue, and includes a number of well documented typos and misspellings.
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