Fall 2016 has been a successful season at Swann. In 13 sales, we set more than 50 auction records and offered 4,497 lots, including a rediscovered illustration by Dr. Seuss, a sensational autograph album signed by 18 presidents, and the first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s treatise on light. Here’s a look back on some highlights.
Gustav Klimt, Das Werk, with 50 collotype plates with ten heightened in gold and silver, Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold December 1, 2016 for $60,000.
The top lot of our December 1 sale of Art, Press & Illustrated Books was Das Werk, 1918, the only monograph published during the artist’s lifetime. The stunning tome features 50 collotype plates of iconic paintings by the Austrian master, with ten printed in color and heightened in gold and silver. A collector purchased the work for $60,000.
Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, New York, 1830. Sold November 17, 2016 for $67,500.
We always have a selection of historic Mormon memorabilia in our Printed & Manuscript Americana auctions. The highlight of our sale on November 17, 2016 was a first edition of The Book of Mormon, 1830. This rare version is the only one to list Mormon founder Joseph Smith as the “author and proprietor” rather than the translator. It was bought by a collector for $67,500. Materials from the American Revolution also did well, selling 34 of the 37 lots offered. The highlight of these was a 1777 printing of Thomas Paine’s American Crisis, which sold for $37,500.
Ellsworth Kelly, Milkweed, pencil, 1969. Sold November 15, 2016 for $125,000.
In our biannual auction of Contemporary Art on November 15, 2016, we offered a spectacular selection of works from the last 50 years. Of the many highlights in this $1M+ sale, the stand-out lot was Milkweed, a 1969 pencil drawing by Ellsworth Kelly that went to a collector for $125,000. This tied the previous auction record for a single plant study by the artist.
L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first edition, first issue, Chicago & New York, 1900. Sold November 10, 2016 for $23,750.
A first edition of L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1900, was the top lot in our November 10 auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature. It sold for $23,750, over three times its high estimate of $7,500. There was also strong interest in a run of signed first editions of works by H.G Wells, 100% of which found buyers.
Album with more than 130 Civil War-era signatures, including Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet, and signed by 18 Presidents, 1864-2010. Sold November 1, 2016 for $60,000.
Presidential materials performed especially well at our November 1 Autographs sale. As anticipated, the top lot was an album signed by 18 presidents, 14 of whom autographed a single page. The first president to sign the album was Abraham Lincoln, along with most of his cabinet and many key players of the Civil War. Every president since Theodore Roosevelt has signed the album as well, right up to Barack Obama in 2010. The album was discovered in the 1950s in a Boston bookshop by Herbert Klingelhofer, collector and president of the Manuscript Society, whose family added to the album until his death.
Our annual auction of Rare & Important Travel Posters on October 27 set at least ten auction records. The carefully curated sale reflected the rapid developments in transportation technology and style in the first half of the twentieth century. The top lot was a rare example of Paul George Lawler’s iconic Fly to South Sea Isles / Via Pan American, circa 1938, which set an auction record for the artist at $20,000. The image, a variant with text rarely found at auction, features a massive “flying boat.”
Sir Isaac Newton, Opticks(detail), first edition, first issue, London, 1704. Sold October 18, 2016 for $87,500.
Our October 18 sale of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books finished with a spectacular 98% sell-through rate, led by a first edition, first issue of Sir Isaac Newton’s seminal Opticks, 1704, a treatise on light and color. This excellent copy of the groundbreaking work sold well above its estimate at $87,500.
Norman Lewis, Block Island, oil on canvas, 1975. Sold October 6, 2016 for $245,000.
The top lot of the fall season was a 1975 oil painting by Norman Lewis, titled Block Island. This was the first from the artist’s important Seachange series to come to auction. It was purchased by a collector for $245,000 in our October 6 sale of African-American Fine Art. In fact, ten of the top 20 lots for the season were in this sale, and each of the top three. Multiple auction records were set, including for Wadsworth Jarrell, whose Untitled (African Rhythm, Our Heritage), a 1973 collage, was purchased by an institution for $97,500.
Georges Lepape, Le Miroir, watercolor and ink, 1927. Sold September 29, 2016 for $52,500, an auction record for the artist.
On September 29 we held our first fall sale of Illustration Art, which broke five artist records. One of these was $52,500 for a 1927 Vogue cover by Georges Lepape titled Le Miroir. The image was featured in Bronwen Meredith’s 1977 book Vogue: Body and Beauty Book. Other highlights included a 1922 cover for Harper’s Bazaar by Erté titled La Cage Improvisée, which was purchased for $45,000, as well as a recently rediscovered drawing by Theodore Geisel (more commonly known as Dr. Seuss) for the 1950 story Tadd and Todd, which reached $23,750.
Fernand Léger, La Lecture, pencil, 1924. Sold September 22, 2016 for $125,000.
The season began with a 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings sale on September 22. The highlight was a pencil drawing by Fernand Léger titled La Lecture, 1924. The work, which was once in the collection of the artist’s wife, sold for $125,000. Early twentieth-century American cityscapes also saw competitive interest, led by a 1928 drypoint by Martin Lewis titled Relics (Speakeasy Corner), for $52,500.
We look forward to building on these successes for a strong 2017 as well.