NEW YORK — Swann Galleries will hold their spring offering of Fine Books & Autographs on June 17. The auction will feature a strong showing of autographs by prominent American political figures, as well as bright minds from both the performing and visual arts. Literature from the 19th and 20th centuries is present alongside a selection of art, press and illustrated books. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The autographs portion of the sale includes uncommonly inspiring items in nearly every major category of collecting. Among Americana is an 1849 autograph letter signed by Abraham Lincoln to Whig activist George W. Rives, estimated at $10,000-$15,000, and an 1823 ALS (autograph letter, signed) from Declaration signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton writing more than 20 years after the death of his friend, George Washington, that the general’s “great and disinterested services will be revered by every good citizen of these States to the gates of time.” It is estimated at $2,000-$3,000. Another renowned general who helped create a nation was Giuseppe Garibaldi, who wrote in 1867 encouraging President Andrew Johnson, the members of Congress, and all Americans, to “trample underfoot every kind of individual prejudice in order to maintain intact the unity of the great Republic, the most powerful symbol of liberty in the world.” The Garibaldi letter carries an estimate of $3,500-$5,000.
Additional autograph highlights include: Thomas Edison, explaining in a 1922 typed letter signed that he and his assistants worked five days and nights without sleep so that the first phonograph would be ready to be unveiled at the Exposition Universelle in Paris; the letter is estimated at $3,500-$5,000. The master of musical theater Stephen Sondheim celebrates the successful opening weeks of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in a 1962 TLS (typed letter, signed), in which he also jokes that the title “ex-queen of television” might apply equally to Leonard Bernstein or his wife. That letter is estimated at $800-$1,200. Also included in the sale is an extraordinary three-page ALS from the expatriate Thomas Mann, writing to his two eldest children in 1938 about their recent book on the culture of exiles, acknowledging that “German freedom and the Weimar republic have been destroyed; we, you and I, are not altogether guiltless in that matter.” The Mann letter is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.
Joan Miro is on offer, with the ALS he wrote to Ballets Russes director Serge Grigoriev in 1933, in which Miro describes some changes to be made to the costumes he designed for the ballet Jeux d’enfants, illustrated with two small sketches. The Miro letter carries an estimate of $3,000-$4,000. In addition to these, excellent examples of letters, documents, photographs, and other items, signed by U.S. presidents, astronauts, suffragists, labor leaders, and more feature in the sale lineup.
Moving into the 19th- and 20th-century literature portion of the sale, James Joyce leads the offerings with a signed deluxe limited issue of Ulysses, London, 1936, estimated at $15,000-$20,000. Also by Joyce is a signed first edition, limited issue, of Finnegans Wake, London, 1939, estimated at $6,000-$9,000. Additional publications include a first edition of William Faulkner’s The Sound and Fury, New York, 1929, available with the first state dust jacket and estimated at $5,000-$7,500; a scarce first edition of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, New York, 1923, estimated at $4,000-$5,000; a first edition of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, New York, 1939, with a signed card and a letter from Steinbeck’s agents, estimated at $4,000-$6,000; and a signed first edition of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, New York, 1936, in the first issue dust jacket, estimated at $3,500-$4,500. Poetry includes an author’s presentation copy of Robert Frost’s Collected Poems, New York, 1930, signed twice by Frost, with the entirety of Stopping by Woods on A Snowy Evening accomplished by him in holograph, estimated at $8,000-$12,000; and a first edition of Pablo Neruda’s Canto General, Mexico City, 1950, with pictorial endpapers designed by Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, signed by Neruda, Rivera, and Siqueiros with an additional inscription by the poet, estimated at $2,500-$3,500.
Closing out the sale is a selection of art, press, and illustrated books. On offer is a limited edition presentation copy of Alighiero Boetti and Anne-Marie Sauzeau-Boetti’s Classifying the Thousand Longest Rivers in the World, Italy, 1977, signed by Boetti and Sauzeau-Boetti and estimated at $15,000-$20,000; and Eugene Grasset’s La Plante et Ses Applications Ornementales, Series 1 and 2, Paris, 1896, estimated at $7,000-$10,000. Notable fine artists include Joan Miro and Jacques Prevert with Adonides, Paris, 1975, portfolio with complete text and 44 entexte and one hors-texte, signed by Miro, estimated at $7,000-$10,000; Man Ray with a very scarce first issue of the first edition without the “second edition” label on the copyright page of Man Ray Photographs 1920-1934 Paris, Hartford, CT and New York, 1934, estimated at $6,000-$9,000; and Agnes Martin with Paintings and Drawings 1974-1990, Amsterdam, 1990, the complete set of 10 lithographs, estimated at $4,000-$6,000.
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