Published: April 9, 2002
NEW YORK CITY – Swann Galleries offered a rich selection of modern literature at auction on March 21.
limited to 300, Paris, 1923, signed and inscribed by him to Nelson Crawford, a fellow journalist, in the year of publication in Paris, which brought a record $52,900.
Among other record-setting Hemingways were a first limited edition of In Our Time, one of 170 on Rives hand-made paper, Paris, 1924, $41,400; a first edition, first issue of The Sun Also Rises, New York, 1926, $46,000; The Torrents of Spring, first edition, first issue, inscribed and signed, New York, 1926, $14,950; and Death in the Afternoon, first edition, inscribed and signed, New York, 1932, $13,800. For Whom the Bell Tolls, one of only 15 advance copies, inscribed and signed by Hemingway to Charles Scribner’s assistant, Nathalie Walbridge, New York, 1940, sold for $32,200.
Every single one of the 70 Conrad lots sold, with most bringing prices above the estimate. A first English edition, first issue of Youth, Edinburgh and London, 1902, with a philosophical inscription on the author’s youth, fetched a record $18,400.
A presentation copy of Chance, first edition, second issue, inscribed by Conrad to his literary agent, J. B. Pinker, London, 1914, realized $5,290; The Polish Question, one of only 25, inscribed and initialed by Conrad, London, 1919, $4,370; and The Black Mate: A Story, one of only 50 inscribed by Conrad, 1922, $5,290.
Christine von der Linn, modern literature specialist, said, “The combination of increasingly desirable classics of Twentieth Century literature, scarce limited editions, and an abundance of unique signed and inscribed volumes, including the reappearance of famous copies from name sales, made for unusually contentious bidding and an auction room charged with energy.
Dominated by Conrad and Hemingway, it was a testosterone-filled sale replete with tales of the sea, adventure, bullfighting, hunting and politics.”
“Female authors set several records as well, including Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party and Other Stories, first edition, London, 1922, at $1,610; Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, first edition, New York, 1927, $1,955; and Zelda Fitzgerald’s only novel, Save Me the Waltz, first edition, New York, 1932, $4,830.”
Additional first editions of note included James Joyce’s very scarce The Day of the Rabblement, one of 85 of his first separate publication, Dublin, 1901, brought $9,200, and Ulysses, one of 750 on handmade paper, Paris, 1922, $10,925; as well as many popular titles such as John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, first issue, inscribed, New York, 1937, $4,140, and The Grapes of Wrath, inscribed and signed, New York, 1939, $5,750; Rex Stout’s The League of Frightened Men: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, in scarce dust jacket, New York, 1935, a record $5,980; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, first printing, signed, New York, 1936, $5,750; J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, in first state dust jacket, Boston, 1951, $7,475; and Harper Lee’s first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, first state, Philadelphia and New York, 1960, $13,800.
Poets and playwrights were also well received. A scarce signed broadsheet printing of Robert Frost’s “An Old Man’s Winter Night,” one of 175, Northampton, 1924, reached $3,680; Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems, first edition, one of 100 signed, London, 1928, $2,070; and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, first edition, first printing, San Francisco, 1956, inscribed and signed in 1987, $4,830; while Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, first edition, signed by Williams and composer Paul Bowles, New York, 1945, brought $2,760, a well preserved copy of A Streetcar Named Desire, first edition, New York, 1947, $2,300; and a signed first edition of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, New York, 1949, $2,760.
All prices include buyer’s premium.
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