Our auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana on April 12 was the department’s highest-grossing sale in four years, continuing an upward trajectory as each offering of Americana and African Americana becomes more specialized. Highlights of the sale included historic bibles and a selection of unique and manuscript material.
Lot 149A: The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. Sold April 12, 2018 for $77,500.
Religious texts constituted many highlights of the sale, including an unusually well-preserved first-edition Book of Mormon, which topped the auction at $77,500, going to a collector. Additional religious highlights included a first edition of the Aitken Bible, the first bible printed in English in the United States, which brought $47,500 despite missing 6 text leaves, and a rare Pony Express Bible that was purchased by a collector for $20,000. All five bibles offered exceeded their high estimates.
Lot 149: Nauvoo Neighbor Extra, first edition, first official account of the death of Joseph Smith, 1844. Sold April 12, 2018 for $37,500.
Swann is known for offering paragons of Mormon material. In addition to the top lot of the sale, highlights included an 1844 edition of the Nauvoo Neighbor Extra, containing the first official report of the murder of Mormon leaders Joseph and Hyrum Smith. It was purchased for $37,500 in its first auction appearance since 1966.
Many of the other highlights were unique or making their first appearances at auction in many decades. The first edition, first state of Thomas Paine’s American Crisis brought $50,000 in its first auction appearance since 1955. An ornately framed cypress sprig cut by Lafayette from Washington’s tomb—the only known example of this tender keepsake—brought $13,750. Cecil Stoughton’s 16 albums of John F. Kennedy photographs brought $15,000, and his shot of Kennedy with Marilyn Monroe (the only known photograph of the two together) brought $10,625.
Lot 111: Cecil W. Stoughton, the only known photograph of JFK and Marilyn Monroe together, 1962, printed 1970s. Sold April 12, 2018 for $10,625.
A volume of sixteenth-century records from the silver mine at Taxco, Mexico, acquired at a London auction in 1992, brought $30,000, leading an unusually rich selection of Latin Americana. Many items far exceeded their high estimates, most notably manuscript material in the Chinantec and Nahuatl languages. Printed highlights included a 1620 decree by the Mexican Inquisition prohibiting the use of peyote, which sold for $25,000, above a high estimate of $9,000.
The next auction of Americana at Swann Galleries will be Revolutionary & Presidential Americana from the Collection of William Wheeler III on June 21, 2018. The house is currently accepting quality consignments for autumn auctions.