A rare copy of The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution and an extraordinary collection of more than 230 mystery fiction books from the owner of the world’s oldest and largest premiere mystery specialist bookstore, headline Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Auction March 6 in New York.
Popularly referred to as The Federalist Papers, the two-volume set is considered by American historians as the cornerstone of the new nation’s theory of government. The essays are attributed to founding fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.
“The Federalist Papers were written as part of an effort to get the New York delegation to ratify the Constitution – it made the case for Federalism and sought to convince the citizens of the states,” Heritage Auctions Rare Books Director James Gannon said. “Probably around 500 copies were printed, and this example is particularly rare because it’s still in the publisher’s boards. You just don’t find them like this.”
A Maurice Sendak “Moo-Reese” Tabletop Cow (estimate $75,000+) was drawn and painted in 2000 by Sendak, with help from Lynn Caponera. As a part of the “Cow Parade” in New York, Chicago and Zurich, Sendak was invited to decorate a full-sized cow, but chose instead to use this one, which measures 27 inches long. The molded plaster figure, decorated in pencil and water color with multiple characters from the popular children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, was sold at a 2003 fundraiser to support the Chicago Opera Theater.
Otto Penzler won an Edgar Award as co-author of the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, founded The Mysterious Press and owns The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. His collection of mystery fiction is considered among the most extensive in the world.
“Otto Penzler is among the most important book collectors anywhere, and is a fixture in the mystery books community,” Gannon said. “He has spent a lifetime assembling an incredible collection, and his decision to bring them to auction represents a rare opportunity for serious book collectors to acquire some incredible volumes.”
Among the top lots from the Penzler collection:
- A rare first edition in the original first printing dustjacket of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (estimate: $60,000+) prompted Penzler himself to call it the world’s best copy
- Raymond Chandler’s 1939 The Big Sleep (estimate: $30,000+) is a first edition signed by Chandler on the front free endpaper with the note “With kindest regards.” Donald A. Yates’ copy, in an exceptional dust jacket, features his own signature in ink.
- Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon (estimate: $30,000+) is a first edition and perhaps the highspot of the hard-boiled canon. The first book to feature Sam Spade, it was adapted for the screen four times; the third and best-known version, which was shot in 1941, starred Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor, and was directed by John Huston.
- Dashiell Hammett The Dain Curse (estimate: $25,000+) is another first edition that is difficult to locate in a nice jacket, especially one that is unrestored. The author’s second book and the final Continental Op novel, it originally was published in four parts in Black Mask from November 1928 to February 1929.
- A first edition association copy, inscribed for literature professor Donald A. Yates, Raymond Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (estimate: $20,000+) is the author’s follow-up to The Big Sleep. It is the second title featuring Philip Marlowe but the first to reach the big screen, when it was released in 1944 as “Murder, My Sweet.”
- Hammett’s $106,000 Blood Money is an original paperback first edition (estimate: $20,000+) that combines “The Big Knockover” and “$106,000 Blood Money” into a single novel. This association copy is inscribed by Hammett to Lillian Hellman: “To Lillian – on the occasion / of one of her birthdays / Dashiell (nothing is too good for the ‘ little woman) Hammett / June 20, 1943” in a note written just five days after publication.
- Edgar A[llan]. Poe. Tales (estimate: $12,000+) is a first edition, first printing. A remarkably clean copy, it includes bookplates of Edwin Marion Cox (identified in the holdings of Penn Libraries) and Michael Sadleir, an English author and noted book collector known for his 19th-century British Fiction collection at UCLA and his Gothic Romance collection at the University of Virginia.
Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
- David Roberts The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia (estimate: $30,000+)
- Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline in London: A Little Sunshine, A Little Rain (estimate: $20,000+)
- Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company,  (estimate: $15,000)
- J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, comprising: The Fellowship of the Ring (estimate: $12,000)
- Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London: Macmillan, 1874 (estimate: $7,500)
Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Auction Featuring The Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction, Part One will take place March 6 in New York.+