PHILADELPHIA — Subject matter ranging from Revolutionary War and anti-slavery tracts to Central American ruins and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping add fascinating color to the Freeman’s Books and Manuscripts sale scheduled for Wednesday, September 27. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.
The sale’s diverse selections symbolize a walk through a wide range of Western history and literature. The lot with the highest estimate is a first edition of Frederick Catherwood’s 1844 travelog Views of the Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. One of just 300 copies printed, the book was the third in a series of first-hand accounts of ancient Mayan ruins encountered by Catherwood, a draftsman, and archaeologist John Lloyd Stephens during 1839-1842 expeditions. The book comes with 25 tinted lithographic plates engraved after Catherwood’s on-scene illustrations. So important were these works at the time that Edgar Allen Poe called the author’s 1843 Incidents of Travel in Yucatan “the most interesting book of travel ever published.” The lot carries an estimate of $30,000-$50,000.
One of the greatest minds among the American Founding Fathers belonged to Thomas Paine. Though only a recent 1774 arrival to the colonies, Paine’s Common Sense was the first widely distributed pamphlet to call for independence from the crown. Freeman’s has a rare 1776 Philadelphia copy of the document in the sale, estimated at $15,000-$25,000.
Quakers, a Protestant Christian group, have long been a part of the American fabric. Their early, 18th-century advocacy for the abolition of slavery set them apart from mainstream thinking at the time. Observations on the Inslaving, importing and purchasing of Negroes by Anthony Benezet was the first Quaker-related pamphlet to speak to the realities of the slave trade. Published in 1759, Freeman’s has a first edition of this important document with clear provenance to the original owner, James Moon, a Bucks County Quaker abolitionist. The pamphlet has an estimate of $15,000-$25,000.
New Jersey Detective Ellis H. Parker was one of the investigators of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and murder. Notably, it was Parker who felt Bruno Hauptmann, convicted of the crime, to be innocent. A trove of his contemporaneous notes and other documents related to the investigation is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.
A signed presentation first edition copy of Ray Bradbury’s seminal The Martian Chronicles leads a large group of more contemporary American literature. Inscribed by Bradbury hoping he could “continue to entertain you,” the book is estimated at $1,200-$1,800.