Published: April 22, 2008
On April 3, Swann Auction Galleries offered a selection of fine books spanning the centuries. The auction’s top lot, Athenaeus, Deipnosophistarum , first edition, Venice, 1514, attained a record $192,000.
This early Third Century work contains descriptions of imaginary banquets where scholarly guests discuss subjects with an emphasis on food and wine, offering insight into ancient Greek culinary practices and social customs. The price achieved for this copy is attributable to the Sixteenth Century, Greek-style binding.
The featured Seventeenth Century work, an extra-illustrated set of Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimes and Purchas His Pilgrimage , London, 1625′6, fetched $156,000.
Among diverse editions that sold for record prices were an elegantly bound, lavishly extra-illustrated set of William Milligan Sloane’s Life of Napoleon Bonaparte , four volumes in 12, New York, 1896, $50,400 †a record for an extra-illustrated set, and Rex Brasher’s Birds and Trees of North America , first limited edition signed by Brasher, Kent, Conn., 1929″2, $33,600.
Also setting records were T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land , scarce second edition with rare dust jacket, New York, 1922, $12,000; and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea , inscribed and signed presentation copy, one of only 30 prepublication copies, New York, 1952, $96,000.
Another Hemingway highlight was a first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls , inscribed and signed to artist/critic Walter Pach, New York, 1940, $10,800. Other highlights included an archive of correspondence from James Joyce and publisher/book seller Sylvia Beach, on the piracy of Ulysses in Samuel Roth’s magazine, Two Worlds Monthly , Paris, 1926, $15,600; and Aleister Crowley’s own copy of his Moonchild: A Prologue , London, 1929, with marginalia in his hand identifying the real-life counterparts of the characters, at $15,600.
The auction concluded with 60 lots on polar exploration, including about 100 leaves extracted from the 1860 edition of Sir Francis Leopold McClintock’s The Voyage of the “Fox” in the Arctic Seas; A Narrative of the Discovery of the Fate of Sir John Franklin . annotated with McClintock’s manuscript revisions for the 1869 third edition; 1860, $7,800; and Ernest Shackleton’s The Heart of the Antarctic and The Antarctic Book , first edition, London, 1909, at $31,200.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Swann Galleries, Inc is at 104 East 25th Street. For information, 212-254-4710 or www.swanngalleries.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm