Private Collection Launches Heritage Auctions Rare Books Sale to $2.1+ Million

A Spellbinding $394,000 for J.K. Rowling’s Chair Sold at Heritage Auctions Historical

A private collection of rare, first editions offered in Heritage Auctions’ March 7 Rare Books Auction in New York pushed the sale total to more than $2.1 million, nearly doubling the sale’s estimate. The James C. Seacrest Collection, assembled over decades by a Nebraska publisher and philanthropist, sold for a combined $918,196 and claimed nine of the auction’s 10 most expensive lots.

The Seacrest Collection’s Signed and Inscribed Copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby sold for $162,500 – a house record for a 1925 first edition. A signed and dated First Edition, Second Issue, of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, by Charles Dickens, ended at $45,000 and a 1685 compilation of Mr. William Shakespear’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies also brought $45,000. All proceeds from the Seacrest Collection will be donated to charity, according to a family representative.

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“We attracted many new clients in the market for top-quality first editions – particularly those signed or inscribed by literature’s most respected authors,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage. “The auction price for the inscribed copy of The Great Gatsby now ranks among the highest ever paid for an inscribed first edition.”

The auction’s biggest sleeper was Seacrest’s copy of Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 First Edition of Lolita, which soared to $32,500 – more than eight times its pre-auction estimate. A scarce, Presentation Copy of The Catcher in the Rye, featuring a rare inscription by reclusive author J. D. Salinger, sold for $27,500.

An extensive offering of signed modern editions included Gone with the Wind, signed by author Margaret Mitchell, which ended at $21,250 and an 1874 first edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s [Untimely Meditations, Part II], which sold for $22,500. A rather extraordinary two-volume first edition of Count Lyof N. Tolstoi’s War and Peace, inscribed by the author and auctioned along with two autographed letters signed by Tolstoy’s secretary, one of which states he was successful in getting an inscription from Tolstoy in English, sold for $22,500.

Additional highlights include:

  • An inscribed, 1939 first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, by Bill Wilson, sold for $30,000
  • A first edition of Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming, sold for $23,750
  • An 1845 first edition first printing copy of Tales by Edgar Allan Poe, considered by critics as the first important book of detective fiction, sold for $21,250
  • Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, an 1891 first edition signed by the author, sold for $20,000

Heritage Auctions’ next auction of rare books is Sept. 13 in Dallas. The consignment deadline is July 23. Learn more about the auction at HA.com/6193.

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