Published: November 8, 2011
Swann Galleries’ September 15 auction of the Eric C. Caren collection contained printed, manuscript and photographic documentation of great events from American history and beyond, including posters, pamphlets, books, maps, newspapers and broadsides from the Sixteenth through Twentieth Centuries. There was much interest from collectors, dealers and institutions, and as a result, the sale grossed $657,888, comfortably within the estimate range.
The top lot was King Charles II’s 1674 authorization for Edmund Andros to take possession of New York from the Dutch, sometimes called “The Birth Certificate of New York.” It sold to Seth Kaller of White Plains, N.Y., an Americana dealer, for $120,000. Kaller also won several other lots, including a Thomas Edison archive for $14,400 and a rare official printing of James Madison’s Virginia Resolution for $11,400.
At least two significant auction records were set. An illustrated Philadelphia broadside titled “Remarks on the Slave Trade,” brought $14,400 †a record for any of the many engravings of the famous slave ship Brooks ; and a well-preserved copy of the Arraignment, Tryal and Condemnation of Captain William Kidd, for Murther and Piracy , 1701, which brought a record $7,200.
Among the books in the auction, a 1677 Boston first edition of Hubbard’s Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians brought $24,000, and a first English edition of Exquemelin’s Bucaniers of America brought $11,400 †both going to collectors.
The first printed baseball scorecard †from a game played in Philadelphia in 1866 †sold to a collector for $36,000, against an estimate of $5/7,500. It was helped by an article in the sports section of the Philadelphia Inquirer that ran the day before the auction.
The University of Virginia purchased a runaway slave poster by John W. Tyler offering a $200 reward for the apprehension of Ludwell, Warrenton, Va., 1854, for $7,800.
Newspapers were another strength of the sale, which will not be a surprise to anyone who has followed Caren’s career. Nine single issues of newspapers brought at least $3,000 each, led by a 1765 issue of the Boston Post-Boy regarding protests against the Stamp Act, which sold to a dealer for $19,200.
Other ephemera highlights included an original mechanical plan of the Lusitania ‘s steam piping by its builders, which may shed some light on the ship’s rapid sinking, ink drawing on tracing vellum, Clydebank, Nov 25, 1907, $15,600.
Among the many photographs in the sale, the top lot was a group of five cabinet card photographs of the Dalton Gang (four of them in their coffins), which sold to a dealer for $8,400. A collector took the top poster in the sale, an early Buffalo Bill piece that brought $6,720.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 212-254-4710 or www.swanngalleries.com .
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