John Larson’s Specialist Picks: 5 Books to Watch in the June 16 Auction

John Larson, Swann’s nineteenth and twentieth century literature specialist, shares five lots that are sure to draw interest in the June 16 sale of Fine Books & Autographs.

First Edition of Peter Benchley’s Jaws

Lot 285: Peter Benchley, Jaws, first edition, inscribed by Richard Dreyfuss with additional signed related ephemera, New York, 1974. Estimate $1,200 to $1,800.

An evocative association copy of Peter Benchley’s Jaws with a poignant inscription by Richard Dreyfuss, one of the three lead actors in the film version, tersely expressing Benchley’s regret at the tragic depopulation of Great Whites as an unintended consequence of celluloid success: “He was ashamed in the end.” Laid-in is an autograph by composer John Williams, an original shark’s head drawing by Benchley, and the signature of actress Susan Backlinie (“Chrissie!”).

First Edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

Lot 289: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, first edition, three volumes, London, 1847. Estimate $12,000 to $18,000.

It’s not going to get any easier, a first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Do yourself a favor and get it while you can. This copy is ready for its close-up, sharp as a Gothic spire.

The First American Edition of Tove Jansson’s The Happy Moomins

Lot 305: Tove Jansson, The Happy Moomins, first American edition, illustrated by the author, Indianapolis, 1952. Estimate $350 to $500.

The first American edition of this children’s book The Happy Moomins by the Swedish-speaking Finnish writer and artist and one of several to feature the titular creatures. She also illustrated the Swedish version of The Hobbit and her frontispiece map here has an agreeable Tolkien-esque flavor. Surprisingly scarce in the dust jacket; none traced at auction.

T.S. Eliot’s Ara Vos Prec

264 numbered copies of this early Eliot title were published in 1920. 220 copies of the regular edition are not difficult to obtain (however, all these copies were rather poorly made and the condition is often problematic). The bibliographer sets out the remaining 44 copies thus: 10 unnumbered review copies, the first 4 copies designated out-of-commerce, and 30 signed copies, as here, with the last copy found at auction sold in 1977.

A Rare Presentation Copy of Raymond Roussel’s Locus Solus

“I shall reach the heights; I was born for dazzling glory. It may be long in coming, but I shall have a greater glory than that of Victor Hugo or Napoleon” Roussel said to his mental health professional. Usually these kinds of proclamations portend all kinds of unpleasantness but this turned out fine. An enigma wrapped in a riddle in a burning sensation at your brow.

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