Books & Manuscripts
Swann was founded as a book auction house and continues to hold general and single-owner book sales in a variety of fields.
Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books: These auctions offer unusual material from the eighteenth century and earlier, and often include medical, scientific and travel books extending into the modern period.
Art, Press & Illustrated Books: Christine von der Linn handles rare and unique livres d'artiste; fine press, printing and book arts; architecture and design; and rare early through modern art and illustrated books. She is also the head of the Illustration Art department.
19th & 20th Century Literature: John D. Larson specializes in modern first editions and fine bindings, handling such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck and Mark Twain, along with science fiction by Ray Bradbury and H.G. Wells, genre fiction of the mystery, detective and pulp variety and children’s literature.
NewsSee all news
2020: Year in ReviewDecember 23, 2020
John Woodhouse Audubon: The California Gray SquirrelDecember 14, 2020
Autographs by Washington, Hamilton & Hancock Bring Top Prices in November 2020 Sale of Fine Books & ManuscriptsNovember 23, 2020
Department ScheduleSee Past Auctions
Early Printed Books
In addition to specialized and highly curated auctions, the department offers single-owner collections including Astronomy & Science Books from The Library of Martin C. Gutzwiller, Aldine Imprints & Early Printed Books from the Library of Kenneth Rapoport and The Nostradamus Library of Daniel Ruzo. Notable results include Aegidius Romanus's Lo libre del regiment dels princeps, 1480, for $50,000 in October 2017; a first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s seminal Opticks (pictured) for $87,500 in October 2016; a sixteenth-century sammelband containing the Opera of Archimedes and Apollonius of Perga for $93,750 in April 2014; the 1495 first edition in the original Greek of Aristotle’s Organon for $36,000 in October 2012; and a fifteenth-century Parisian illuminated manuscript Book of Hours for $52,800 in November 2010.
Art, Press & Illustrated Books
Special collections offered by the department include the Esther Salinas Collection of Fine Illustrated & Plate Books, the Norman J. Sondheim Collection of Fine Press Books and the Edward Gorey Collection of Samuel Spiegel. Notable sales include the Kelmscott Press edition of the complete works of Geoffrey Chaucer (pictured) for $62,500 in November 2015; one of 12 copies on vellum of the Golden Cockerel Press’s The Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ for $132,000 in April 2011; a nearly-complete set of the Mexican Stridentist magazine Horizonte, for $22,500 in December 2016; in the same sale, the record price for Yoko Ono's Grapefruit at $13,750; the limited first edition of Arthur Syzk’s The Szyk Haggadah for $48,000 in April 2009; and Das Werk von Gustav Klimt for $144,000 in October, 2012.
19th & 20th Century Literature
Important single-owner sales such as the Lawrence M. Solomon Collection of 19th & 20th Century Literature and the Otto Penzler Collection of British Espionage & Thriller Fiction—with a run of Ian Fleming’s tales of James Bond—bring rare and unusual material to the market. Highlights include the first edition of Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett which sold for $65,000 in November 2015; the first edition in English of Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo for $47,500 in November 2015; an inscribed first edition of Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd for $23,750 in June 2015; the first edition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for $15,600 in June 2015; and the first American edition of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for $74,750 in April 2006.