Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2014 Issue

How History Unfolds on Paper: An April Sale at Bonhams

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On April 7th at Bonhams in New York the next disposition of important material from The Caren Archive will be sold.  This is the third and highest-valued auction in the series and the first one at Bonhams.  The Caren Archive is the passion and brainchild of Eric Caren, who has collected highly important ephemera for more than forty years, and literally invented the category at auction.  Three hundred and five lots are offered.

 

Aptly named Treasures from The Caren Archive: How History Unfolds on Paper, the sale encompasses a truly significant amount of history, covering a good proportion of the most important human events of over four centuries. Broadsides, letters, photographs, newspapers, and other items of historical paper make up the sale that ranges in dated material from 1513 to 1970. Normally, items with such a wide date range might seem fragmented, but here, they come together in a depiction of history from the perspective of the people who experienced it as it happened. It flows well, without categories based on era or subject needed to separate the lots.  The sale is decidedly American, with other items interspersed where they fit.  With the huge diversity of subjects present, there is likely to be an interesting item for virtually all collectors of printed or manuscript material, especially Americana. Keep a careful eye when browsing the catalogue.

 

One star of the show is a particularly significant $1 bill. Dollar for dollar, it might be considered one of the worst exchanges of currency as it’s estimated for $8,000 – 12,000. Dollar for history, it’s a great chance to own a piece of it. The bill in question is the first dollar earned by the Edison Electric Light Company, a forerunner of GE, for the sale of electricity. The deal for which this bill was a portion of the payment was done in 1882, but customers were not charged until Thomas Edison was confident of continued and uninterrupted service. The company began charging its customers in January 1883, and Ansonia Brass was the first to pay in the amount of $50.40. The bill is endorsed and signed by Charles L. Clarke, the Chief Engineer of the EELC, and reads in full: “This bill is one from a total amount of $50.40 which was the first bill collected for the sale of Edison Electric Light in first Central Station District, New York City. Jan. 18 / 1883. Ansonia Brass & Copper Company. 17 & 19 Cliff Street. This light was furnished through a Meter. Chas. L. Clarke.” The bill is available as lot 232 in the sale.

 

Other gems from the sale depend on your collecting focus. There really is something that will appeal to almost everyone. For items pre-dating American colonization, there is material related to the crusades, Henry VIII, Martin Luther, and Sir Francis Drake—including a very fine portrait of him. By the time the auction gets to lot 10, Americana becomes dominant beginning with the 1590 first Latin edition of the first volume of de Bry’s Great Voyages, being Thomas Hariot’s Description of Virginia. From there, the lots progress chronologically and relate to subjects like King Philip’s War, William Penn, the Salem Witch Trials, Blackbeard, the French and Indian War, Paul Revere, Bunker Hill, the Declaration of Independence, the Surrender of Cornwallis—the flow of items from one to another is superb, and all of these subjects listed come within just the first 82 lots. Another 223 lots follow and present history in a fascinating way that must be seen for yourself. You can do so at the Bonhams website. The PDF version of the catalogue is also available.

 

If you’re in New York, viewings of the auction will be taking place beginning Thursday, April 3rd and continue every day until the day of sale. Please refer back to Bonhams’ auction page for specific times.

 

Also advertised is a collection that will not be sold at auction but which is available directly from Mr. Caren.  It is a group of more than 200,000 ephemera that is intended for private sale as a single group and is probably headed for a major research institution.  Already three institutions have expressed interest.  Two, Columbia and the University of Arkansas, need an angel to make the purchase.  A significant amount of the material is believed to be unique.  As James G. Neal, the Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University puts it, the Caren Collection is “a resource that is unparalleled in content, providing historical reference material covering the American experience as well as international history as it was first reported in the newspaper.”

 

Here is a link to the Bonhams auction on April 7th.

 

Here is a link to the Caren Collection of 200,000 items to be sold by private treaty:  Caren Archive.

 

Mr. Caren’s now four-decade pursuit of original and important documents continues to bear fruit.  He was once one of the very few who understood such material would eventually be prized.  Today the world understands this very well.

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.

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