Rick Stattler’s Auction Selections for Spring 2023

Spring has just about sprung, and Rick Statler—Swann Galleries’ resident Americana specialist, and director of the house’s books and manuscripts department—is sharing a selection of lots from the 2023 auction schedule that will put you in the spirit for the season.

Springtime is exciting, even in Manhattan. Flowers are showing up in the parks, winter jackets are being left at home, and we have a flurry of auctions coming up at Swann. In the spirit of renewal, we even have a beautiful new 7th-floor gallery nearly ready for the public. Thank you for your patience if you have visited during our current renovations, but we expect it will be worth the trouble. 

Printed & Manuscript African Americana | March 30

Right: Lot 223: Handbill for an early Texas Juneteenth commemoration, 1903. At auction March 30. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.

In our March 30 Printed & Manuscript African Americana auction, lot 223 is a flier for a June 19 celebration at a park in Texas, circa 1903. This is an extremely early formal commemoration of Juneteenth, the Texas emancipation day, in the state where it originated. The first Juneteenth was in living memory for some of these speakers. 

On a much less serious note, lot 203 is a concert poster announcing a 1988 “Big Spring Rap Fest” in Baltimore featuring Whodini and other acts. Or perhaps you would rather visit the zoo with jazz great Dizzy Gillespie, who can be seen taking an analog selfie with a golden eagle circa 1980, part of a large archive of his personal photographs (lot 210).  

African American Art | April 6

Our April 6 African American Art auction has some works with a springy vibe, including lot 77, Bernie Casey’s Spectral Singing of the Moon, and lot 191, Richard Mayhew’s sunny abstract lithograph Serenade.  

Printed & Manuscript Americana | April 13

Left: Lot 26: Archive of the renowned animal sculptor F.G.R. Roth, 1915-27. At auction April 13. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.

On April 13, the Printed & Manuscript Americana auction has two nice Central Park lots for the New Yorkers among us. Frederick G.R. Roth was a renowned early twentieth-century sculptor of the animal form. Lot 26 is an archive of his design photographs, sketches, and other papers. He created three works for Central Park, including the much-beloved Balto the Sled Dog, whose original clay model is photographed here. 

Lot 137: Photograph of the southeastern corner of Central Park under construction, with the accompanying lithograph, 1858. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.

Later in the sale is a June 1858 photograph of the southeastern corner of Central Park (lot 137) during its construction. Two large buildings loom in the background, both of them long gone since the nineteenth century: Luke’s Hospital and (in the far distance) the dome of the doomed Crystal Palace, which burned a few months later. Not yet on the scene: the Central Park Zoo, the Plaza Hotel, Trump Tower, MoMA, Grand Army Plaza, and any other building you might spot from that vantage point today. Frankly, it doesn’t look like much of a park yet, but still calls out for a leisurely stroll.  

Hungry for more?