Published: August 16, 2010
Collectors filled the phone banks and galleries of Bonhams in anticipation of the auctioneer’s June 23 fine book sale. Consisting of more than 500 lots, the diverse sale spanned the centuries from the 1490s to the 1990s and featured a number of fresh-to-the-market lots.
Proving to be the top lot of the sale was Robert Thornton’s magnificent and celebrated The Temple of Flora . Having been in the same family for the last six decades, this copy has its full complement of plates and remains unrestored in an elegant period binding. Neatly topping its estimate of $60/80,000, the lot brought $85,400.
Also of great interest were Frank Lloyd Wright lots. An archive relating to the Hartford, Conn., “New Theatre” project, including a number of letters between Wright and actor/director Paton Price, brought $27,450. Additionally, a group of 13 original blueprints from Wright’s “Fallingwater” project more than doubled its estimate of $4/6,000, realizing a final price of $12,200.
Greatly outperforming its $4/6,000 estimate was a first edition copy of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved Anne of Green Gables . Rarely seen at auction, frenzied bidding pushed this excellent example to $17,690.
Far exceeding expectations was a Rene Magritte manuscript. With Magritte’s small ink drawing of a bowler-hatted standing man, captioned, “Seated man,” these notes are full of Magritte’s re-encapsulations of his theories of image and word, everyday language, the secret language of authenticity, etc. Following a session of aggressive bidding, the lot drew $13,420 against an estimate of $2,5/3,500.
Other lots surpassing estimate were a 1963 letter signed by President John F. Kennedy. Typed on mint green White House stationery and sent to Senator George Smathers, presenting him with the pen used to sign the proclamation granting Winston Churchill honorary US citizenship, the extraordinary lot more than doubled its $3/5,000 estimate, with a final price of $13,420.
A collection of more than 30 rare Holy Land maps were also cause for excitement, doubling their total estimate of $30,000 with a combined price of $60,000. Among the most coveted lots of the collection was a 1482, hand colored, woodcut map showing the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East from Cyprus to Babylonia. Following a round of competitive bidding, the map brought $12,200 against an estimate of $3/5,000.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.bonhams.com/us or 212-644-9001.
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