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BOSTON, Mass. – May 22, 2013 – Skinner, Inc. will host an auction of Fine Books & Manuscripts on June 1st in its Boston gallery. The sale will feature a large group of Audubon imperial folio prints of North American quadrupeds, literary firsts, modern first editions, theological works, presidential documents, and a group of fine maps.
The auction opens with three documents signed by John Quincy Adams, including a letter written to the American consul in Russia in 1815 (lot 2, estimated between $3,000 and $5,000) that contains a large section on Robert Fulton’s steamship agreement with the Russians; a legal brief drafted early in Adams’s career (lot 1, $400 to $600); and a signed ship’s passport from 1825 (lot 3, $600 to $800).
The large photographic portrait of Abraham Lincoln taken by Alexander Gardner (lot 35, $20,000 to $30,000) descended through his personal secretary John Hay, who was present when the picture was taken in August of 1863. The large image is especially striking in its oval gilt and mahogany frame.
An unassuming receipt (lot 46, $2,000 to $3,000) signed by Thomas Jefferson’s grandson in 1829 draws attention to a disturbing chapter in American history. Thomas Jefferson Randolph attempted to settle his grandfather’s estate, which was greatly in debt at the time of the former President’s passing. In this instance, he has sold Moses Gillette, an enslaved man owned by Jefferson’s estate at Monticello, for $545. Gillette, a skilled cooper who sold his wares back to Monticello, eventually did secure freedom, and moved to Ohio to be closer to his brother, Israel Gillette Jefferson.
An engaging letter (lot 5, $3,000 to $4,000) in the hand of Louisa May Alcott sorts out the last publication details regarding Little Women on the way to the first publication. Alcott writes to her editor, Samuel Niles, concerning the illustrations, subtitle, and illustration credit for the book. She also shows her own enthusiasm and verve as she notes that she is writing while holding her small nephew on her lap, “recovering from a tumble. […] [H] is gambols are not conducive to elegance of handwriting.” The first edition of both parts of Little Women is also offered in the sale (lot 62 $2,000 to $3,000).
Mark Twain holds a book on his lap and wears a dark suit and bow tie in the signed photograph offered in the June 1st sale (lot 54, $6,000 to $8,000). The large-format portrait in period oak frame evokes the unmistakable author as he appeared in 1905.
The cover lot is an image from Catherwood’s Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan (lot 94, $15,000 to $20,000), a first edition from 1844, illustrated with two dozen hand-colored lithographic plates of Pre-Columbian ruins recently discovered in the rain forests of Central America. On a similar topic, McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America (lot 249, $5,000 to $7,000) is offered in the second octavo edition, illustrated with 120 hand-colored plates, in three volumes handsomely bound in full gilt-tooled red morocco.
A group of Middle Eastern manuscripts, including prayer books, manuscripts, Qur’ans, poetry, and other works in Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Coptic, Turkish, and other languages are also drawing favorable attention from potential bidders.