Rare early American texts with rock-solid provenance lead Heritage Auctions’ $1.2+ million Rare Books Auction, as a copy of The Federalist, previously owned by New York Post founder Samuel Boyd, sold for $175,000. The auction came in at an astounding 134 percent above expectations and had a sell-through rate of 97 percent.
“Our selection of rare Americana and Modern Literature were particularly strong in this auction,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage. “We saw intense bidding that pushed many first editions well beyond our expectations.”
An influential copy of Joseph Smith’s The Book of Mormon – owned and annotated by press foreman Pomeroy Tucker sold for $100,000, against a $70,000 estimate. Ironically, Tucker would move on from his printing career to become a journalist and New York politician, and he later penned Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, a book arguing that Smith was dishonest.
Among the most valuable examples of fiction on offer, a three-volume set of the first edition, first impression of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, including The Fellowship of the Ring saw interest by six bidders who pushed the sale price to $30,000. A presentation copy of the third Tarzan adventure, The Beasts of Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, sold for $18,750, three times its pre-auction estimate. A 1923 first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems sold for $15,625.
A first edition, first printing presentation volume of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, inscribed and signed by Bill Wilson, sold for $17,500 following action by nine bidders. A 13-volume set of the Journals of Congress – spanning Sept. 5, 1774 to Nov. 3, 1788 and one of only 400 copies printed – ended at $16,250 against a $6,500 estimate.
Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:
A first edition, presentation copy of The Moon Maid, with an original drawing by Edgar Rice Burroughs: Realized: $12,500. The copy is from a private collection that will appear in Heritage’s next two rare book auctions.
An archive of the original production artwork for Carl Sagan’s Cosmos television program: Realized: $12,500.
A Further Account of the Tryals of the New England Witches, written by Increase Mather in 1693: realized $12,500.
An extraordinary and bright example of the hand-colored aquatint engraving by Robert Havel of John James Audubon’s Great Auk: Realized: $11,250, against a $3,000 estimate.