Swann was founded in 1941 as an auction house specializing in Rare and Antiquarian Books and is now the largest specialist auctioneer of Works on Paper in the world. Swann conducts approximately 40 sales a year, with departments devoted to Books, Autographs, Maps & Atlases, Photographs & Photobooks, Prints & Drawings, Vintage Posters, African-American Fine Art and Illustration Art.
Swann Galleries is a third-generation family business. George S. Lowry—now chairman of the company—became President and Principal Auctioneer in 1970 upon the retirement of founder Benjamin Swann. Nicholas D. Lowry, the current President, joined Swann in 1995 as head of the Vintage Posters department. He was named Principal Auctioneer in 1998, and President in January 2001.
For nearly 40 years, Swann has been located on East 25th Street, just one block east of Madison Square Park, at the borders of the historic Murray Hill and Flatiron districts. The premises doubled in size in 1999 with the addition of a second gallery and salesroom.
International Auctioneers (IA) is a consortium of eight of the world's leading independent auction houses. Swann has been a member since the IA was formed in 1993. IA members participate in joint advertising and promotions, shared catalogue mailings and international previews of auction highlights.