NEW YORK CITY — Doyle’s April 23 auction of rare books, autographs and illustration art offered a wide range of material. Comprising 300 lots, the sale included Americana, items of sporting interest, travel, literature, early printing, photographic albums, color plate books, original illustrations, science and medicine, among many other subjects.
With competitive bidding from buyers in the salesroom, on the telephones and on the Internet, the sale totaled $909,406, with 90 percent sold by lot and 94 percent sold by value.
Autograph letters highlighted the auction. An important letter from Andrew Jackson written in Mobile, Ala., on October 10, 1814, achieved $37,500, more than ten times its estimate of $2/3,000. Written at the turning point of the War of 1812, the letter contains Jackson’s remarks on the burning of Washington, reports on the attack on Fort Bower, describes the folly of attempted peace with the British and appeals to Congress for a continuation of the militia. The war would end four months later in February 1815 following the Battle of New Orleans.
Also selling for $37,500 was a group of 13 autograph letters from author and journalist Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce. The lot more than doubled its estimate of $10/15,000. The letters were written by Bierce from July 1898 through September 1913 to his friend and editor, Silas Orrin Howes. In the final letter of the group — the latest Bierce letter to come to auction — he writes that he planned to travel to San Antonio, Texas, then down to the border and the Mexican Revolution. Bierce would disappear without a trace three months later.
Highlighting the travel and voyages section was a significant Titanic item: the ledger page of the insurance policy for the ship’s hull from the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company, which achieved $25,000. The insurance policy was written on behalf of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company Limited, better known as the White Star Line. The document states that the steamer Titanic is “on risk” with Atlantic Mutual from March 30, 1912, until March 30, 1913. The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, less than a month after the policy went into effect, with a tragic loss of more than 1,500 lives. Atlantic Mutual undertook $100,000 of the risk in the Titanic. The balance was covered by a syndicate of insurance companies led by the Prudential Insurance Company in London. Therefore, the risk for the full insured value of $5 million was spread among many firms.
Illustration art featured a collection of 18 original pen and ink drawings by Maurice Sendak that fetched $25,000. The drawings were executed for the very first book that he illustrated, the 1947 Atomics for the Millions by Eidinoff and Ruchlis. Included in the lot were two copies of the original contract between the authors and the 18-year-old Sendak, as well as a copy of the contract between McGraw-Hill and the authors.
A rare 22-volume set of the works of Lyof N. Tolstoy autographed by the author sold for $25,000, many times its estimate of $5/8,000. Published 1899–1900 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, the elaborately bound set is number three from an edition of 24 signed by Tolstoy.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Doyle’s next auction of rare books, autographs and illustration art is scheduled for this fall. Consignments are currently being accepted. For information, 212-427-2730 or www.DoyleNewYork.com.