Published: October 15, 2002
NEW YORK CITY — Record prices were routinely established during the second part of Christie’s auction of the Forbes Collection of Historical Documents on October 10. The auction went 92 percent sold with 232 lots offered, 213 of which found buyers and a gross sales price of $9,366,687 was realized.
Chris Coover, senior specialist in the printed books and manuscripts department stated, “The overall results are a further vindication of the taste and collecting acumen of the late Malcolm Forbes. A significant number of records were set including the record for a Washington document and for a Lincoln letter,” he said.
The top lot of the auction came as a George Washington autographed manuscript was offered. The Washington manuscript revealed his early military career and was entitled “Remarks.” The manuscript contained vivid accounts of his service in the French and Indian Wars. According to Christie’s, Washington himself had asked his biographer to burn this manuscript.
The rare manuscript carried a presale estimate of $600/800,000; it sold for a world auction record price for a document by Washington at $834,500. The buyer, Seth Kaller, purchased the lot on behalf of the War for Empire Consortium in Western Pennsylvania.
Kaller also purchased, for a world record price at auction, a rare signed letter to Mary Owens, dated May 7 1837, by Abraham Lincoln. The letter, estimated at $150/200,000 sold after brisk bidding for $779,500. Another Lincoln piece to do well was a signed letter to Andrew Jackson that contained a poem and sold well above the $300/400,000 presale estimates, bringing $504,500.
A Thomas Jefferson signed letter to Jared Sparks pertaining to a statement on slavery more than doubled the low estimate of $300,000 when it sold at $669,500.
Other George Washington highlights included a signed letter to General Spotswood concerning slavery that sold for $471,500, a Washington letter as Commander in Chief to Governor Livingston dated June 12, 1783, realized $339,500, and a signed letter to secretary of war McHenry dated May 29, 1797 brought $251,500.
A record price for a William Henry Harrison letter was established as a signed letter to R. Buchanan, Esq, written after his ill-fated inaugural ceremony, March 10, 1841, sold for $273,500. A key passage from Lincoln’s last address to Congress with signature and dated December 6, 1864, sold for $251,500, while a Thomas Jefferson first edition Notes on the State of Virginia, one of 200 copies, sold at $229,500.
A world record price paid at auction for any piece of Twentieth Century fiction was one of several records established at Christie’s on October 11, during the Masterpieces of Modern Literature: The library of Roger Rechler auction. The highlight of the auction was a rare copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published by Shakespeare and Company, 1922, a first edition, one of 100 copies on Dutch handmade paper, and inscribed to Henry Kaeser, publisher. The book carried a presale estimate of $200/300,000, and sold to Glenn Horowitz Booksellers for a record price of $460,500.
Records were also established for a book by Nabokov at $273,500, a book by Kerouak at $185,000, a book by Scott Fitzgerald at $163,500, a book by Baum at $152,500 and a book by Tolkien at $152,500.
Prices include the buyer’s premium charged
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