Published: March 1, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers. Photos Courtesy Swann Galleries
NEW YORK CITY – Books and autographs came to Swann Galleries on February 17, featuring autographs from inspirational figures across technology, politics, literature and beyond, alongside scarce first editions from the Twentieth Century and noteworthy artist books. The sale total was $651,918, with 369 bidders registered across phones, online platforms and absentee bids.
Robert Indiana’s (1928-2018) “The Book of Love,”a portfolio of 12 original poems and 12 original prints, led the day, selling for $100,000 to the trade. Exceedingly scarce, according to ABPC and Rare Book Hub, it was only the second artist’s proof copy to appear at auction, was impeccably preserved, with little to no evidence of handling. With poems by Robert Creeley (1926-2005) and title/limitation on parchment signed by the publisher Michael McKenzie, complete set of 12 color screenprints (24-by-20-inch sheets), each signed, numbered and dated “96” in pencil, the artist’s proof set was numbered “AP 9/15” (the edition was 200), and each poem was initialed by Creeley and each print signed by Indiana.
In economics, Security Analysis, New York: Whittlesey House, (1934) by Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd brought $35,000. This rare first edition, the first printing of this Wall Street high spot, was a signed presentation copy from Dodd to James Bonbright in which he wrote “To James C. Bonbright / with the admiration, affection / and gratitude / of / David L. Dodd.” Bonbright was a professor of finance at Columbia University from 1919 to 1960, and the second chairman of the New York State Power Authority, serving in that capacity from 1937 to 1946.
Edited by Sam Francis and with text by Walasse Ting, One Cent Life was a Pop art category highlight. Comprising 62 lithographs by 28 artists mostly printed in colors, each signed or initialed in pencil (except the Rauschenberg and Indiana bearing artist’s stamps only per usual), it was bid to $32,500. The portfolio contained work by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Joan Mitchell, Sam Francis, James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana (artist’s blind stamp), Jim Dine, Karel Appel, Robert Rauschenberg (stamped initials), Pierre Alechinsky and others. This copy stamp numbered 85 from the special edition of 100, was one of 40 copies reserved for the artists and the collaborators.
Autographs included the cover of a 1982 issue of Time magazine featuring Apple’s Steve Jobs, signed by Jobs without capitalization in vertical at lower left. The cover, from the February 15, 1982, issue featuring the headline, “Striking it Rich,” showed a bust portrait of Jobs and his Apple II computer. It sold for $27,500.
A Time magazine cover signed and inscribed, “Best Wishes” at lower right by Martin Luther King Jr in 1959 was the February 18, 1957, issue featuring a bust portrait of him positioned above a city bus representing the bus boycott he helped organize the previous year. The Latin American edition accompanied by a typed letter from King’s secretary Maude L.W. Ballou sending the signed cover found a buyer at $20,000, five times its high estimate.
An autograph album containing more than 30 autographs by mostly early Twentieth Century notables, including Tesla, Edison and Roosevelt, with many signatures on small cards, most mounted or written three to a page on recto and verso, settled at $7,375. It had been kept by Jessica Bruce of Syracuse, N.Y., sister-in-law of Andrew Dickson White’s son, Frederick Davies White (1859-1901).
Twentieth Century literary high spots included a first edition of T.S. Eliot’s first book, Prufrock and Other Observations, London, 1917, in the original buff wrappers, and a first edition copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Boston, 1951, in the first issue dust jacket, which each earned $16,250.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The next sale of books and autographs at Swann is June 16. For information, www.swanngalleries.com or 212-254-4710.
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