Records & Results: Printed & Manuscript Americana

Hoards of history-lovers came out to attend the preview for our auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana on September 28. The sale featured a trove of unique material, much of which had never previously been seen on the market. Department Director Rick Stattler said, “This sale emphasized quality over quantity. At 325 lots, it was one of the smallest Americana sales we’ve ever done, but the total hammer was the best of our past four Americana sales, and it finished above the top of its estimate range.”


Lot 166: Missionary archive of Samuel W. and Gideon H. Pond, Minnesota, 1833-93. Sold September 28, 2017 for $112,500.


The top lot in the sale was an archive of 245 letters that spanned nearly a century by early frontier missionaries in Minnesota, which was sold to a private collector for $112,500—triple the pre-sale estimate, and the highest price ever realized for an archive at Swann. Collectors also won a first-edition Book of Mormon for $37,500, and a New Hampshire broadside proclaiming the end of the American Revolution for $22,500.


Lot 190: E. Radford Bascome, two cyanotype albums documenting the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge, 1897-1903. Sold September 28, 2017 for $30,000.


A burgeoning section of photographic works performed exceptionally well, with a set of cyanotype albums compiled by E. Radford Bascome, chronicling the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge, 1897-1903, reaching $30,000, above a high estimate of $6,000. McClees’ Gallery of Photographic Portraits… of the Thirty-Fifth Congress, 1859, was one of the first photographically illustrated books published in the United States; it was purchased for $11,250.


Lot 311: Fernando de Cepeda & Fernando Alfonso Carrillo, Relacion universal…, Mexico, 1637. Sold September 28, 2017 for $12,500.


Latin Americana was successful in this sale, led by a pair of early manuscripts by Baja California missionaries that brought $27,500 and $11,250, respectively, and Fernando de Cepeda’s rare 1637 book on Mexican engineering, which brought $12,500. Among the earliest examples of printing in the Americas are legal power-of-attorney forms printed in sixteenth-century Mexico: a previously unknown example, printed circa 1572, brought a record $2,000. All but one of the lots in this section found buyers, earning $115,272 and exceeding the high estimate for the run.


Lot 26: Medical journal kept by surgeons aboard the Continental frigate Deane and other vessels, 1777-88. Sold September 28, 2017 for $27,500.


Institutions bid actively throughout the auction. The biggest prize was a medical journal kept aboard the frigate Deane during the American Revolution. Additional institutional purchases included the papers of naval surgeon Pierre St. Medard, an early manuscript cookbook from Mexico and a logbook of an 1804-16 seal-hunting expedition off the coast of Antarctica.

Browse the catalogue for complete results. The next sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Galleries will be held in Spring 2018. For more information or consign quality materials, contact Rick Stattler  at