October 2022 Sale of Early Printed Books Brings the Highest-Grossing Auction for the Category at Swann

The fall 2022 sale of Early Printed Books at Swann Galleries was the highest-grossing auction for the category at $1.1 million and ranks among the top ten book sales in the house’s 80-year history. The sale featured the second part of bibliophile Ken Rapoport’s collection and saw top earnings for Romantic titles.

The Ken Rapoport Collection: Chaucer, Cervantes & Shakespear

Left: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed, London, 1542. Sold for $106,250.

The sale was led by a 1542 second edition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed, at $106,250. This edition was the first edited by William Thynne, and the first collected edition to contain The Plowman’s Tale.

Works by William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes were the most popular titles among collectors, with seven of the top 15 lots being written by the two heavyweights. Shakespeare included a 1685 fourth-folio printing of Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies…Unto which is added Seven Plays Never before Printed in Folio, which realized $87,500; and a 1655 third quarto edition of the playwright’s King Lear, at $57,500­—the edition had been appraised by the house’s early printed books specialist, Devon Eastland, earlier this year on the Antiques Roadshow. Several editions of Cervantes Don Quixote landed in the list of top 15 lots sold in the auction, most notably, the first complete edition in English, at $55,000, the first Brussels edition, at $42,500, and the first Valencia edition, at $32,500.

Additional Highlights

Additional highlights include a 1528 first edition of the French romance, Du Present Volume sont Contenus les Nobles Faictz d’armes du Vaillant Roy Meliadus de Leonnoys by Meliadus de Leonnoys, which brought $27,500; a 1532 second edition of Middle English poetry, De Confessione Amantis by John Gower, at $23,750; and Juliana Berners’ The Boke of Saint Albans, fragment, 1496, at $18,750.

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